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Southampton 0 v 0 Burnley
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 12th August 2018 Kick-off 13:30
Saints V Burnley The Verdict
Monday, 13th Aug 2018 09:42

It was a 0-0 draw but no one was bored in this one with Saints getting stronger as the game went on leaving most present hopeful for the season ahead.

Mark Hughes surprised a few people with his team selection, Jack Stephens coming in ahead of Jan Bedarek and Yoshida as the right sided player in a back three with Yoshida not even making the bench.

Also a surprise start for Cedric who had not registered any pre season minutes due to his World Cup duties.

But if Mark Hughes thought Burnley might be a bit jaded he would be wrong, at least in the opening 20 minutes, Burnley seemed to have benefited from already having played 3 competitive games and had an edge and sharpness that Saints lacked, we also seemed to struggle with the formation and finding our positions.

Sean Dyche seemed to have targeted our right flank in the first half and Stephens and Cedric struggled, neither seeming to knpw where they should be or whom they were marking, luckily enough although Burnley had a lot of the ball and got in plenty of crosses, Vestergaard and Hoedt seemed to deal with them all comfortably, in those opening exchanges the visitors had more shots on target that they had in total in both games last season and Saints had Alex McCarthy to thank for a smart save to make sure the game reached half time scoreless although we had held our own after that initial dodgy period.

Burnley came out of the traps at speed again in the second half, but we held firm again and ten minutes after the break a double substitution of Elyounoussi for Cedric and Danny Ings for the injured Armstrong seemed to give Saints a lot better balance and both seemed to be able to get the ball down run with it and create.

No one could accuse Mark Hughes of being cautious or not trying to win the game with Manolo Gabbiadini coming on for Charlie Austin, but although Saints pinned Burnley back they hung on with Joe Hart looking more like the keeper he used to be with several smart saves and some dangerous crosses dealt with.

But it was scoreless at the final whistle, however the mood amongst Saints fans was one of optimism, this was not the bore draws of Puel of the ultra cautioness of Pellegrino, it had been a decent game of football and you felt that now Hughes seems to have a little more idea of his team and how he wants it to play, we can start to get some consistency.

It was hard to pick a Saints man of the match, but several deserve a mention, Jannik Vestergaard looked like the missing link we have needed for two years, strong and dominant, he looked like he will form a strong partnership with Wesley Hoedt.

Nathan Redmond looked to be playing without fear and was a constant threat running with the ball and Danny Ings looked like he could well be the man to get the side scoring again, he looked strong and mobile and his arrival saw us play some quite intricate football.

So overall a lot of plus points that were there for everyone to see, last season you really ad to work to find anything in our game as a cause for optimism, this season there are a lot of good things to see, when you look at how strong the bench now is and the options on it Mark Hughes must feel he can surprise a few people this season, but also those that couldn't even get on the bench, Steven Davis, Shane Long, Yoshida and Fraser Forster all considered first choices for much of the last two seasons, not to mention the likes of Josh Sims and Matt Targett who you would be looking at to make a breakthrough.

This will hopefully give us that sharpness and edge and competitiveness that has been lacking, we won't have to indulge players nor will there be any excuse for anyone to be left in the side when he is playing badly.

So not the win we hoped for on the opening day, but a good point all the same.


Photo: Action Images

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highfield49 added 10:22 - Aug 13
I can't see any point in continuing the experiment with three central defenders, it isn't working because it stops us competing for the the ball in midfield and effectively counterattacking. We could have lost the game without the changes made on the hour, for the first time put Burnley seriously on the back foot, and equally won the game because Ings can do what Charlie can't by bringing other players into the game. I'm optimistic and all of the new players proved that Reed and co really can spot decent players off the radar of the big spenders. On yesterday's showing I'd be looking to make Vestergaard captain and phoning Liverpool to tell them he's not for sale at any price.

halftimeorange added 10:24 - Aug 13
Let's keep our feet on the ground. This will be a really tough season for all EPL teams other than the top few. The way both Arsenal and WHU were literally brushed aside shows that. Many clubs have a lot of new players to integrate into their squads and how quickly that happens will have a definite effect on the outcome of early matches. Up until the last third of the Burnley game Saints looked very disjointed, as was the case against Celta Vigo for one half and Borussia M all game in the final friendly. Whether the introduction of two "better" players in Ings and Elyounoussi turned our performance or the change of formation or both, coupled with Burnley tiring is too early to tell. It seems to me that we have improved the choices available to Mark Hughes and if he can generate the right spirit and we do pick up some early points, then all will be well and a dogfight will be avoided. From my own point of view, I don't believe that Saints have quite reached peak fitness levels - that might sound odd but Ings certainly looked far sharper than any other player in Red and White which makes one wonder about the Liverpool training regime in comparison to ours. It could have been better yesterday but it was not without promise.

ExiledSupporter added 10:49 - Aug 13
Well a dreadful first 20 mins and a just about holding on next 25 mins and only one shot on target (from Lemina's header) made me think like Highfield that it was blatantly obvious that we lacked numbers and organisation in midfield and Burnley ran most of the half.

But quite a few players looked off the pace eg Romeu, Bertrand, Redmond, Austin (isolated and lonely). Thank goodness for Lemina, Armstrong, Westergaard and McCarthy in the first 45mins.

It wasn't until 60th minute that we became competitive with and threatening to Burnley. As a result of adding Ings who seemed better able to 'join up' play than most and sharper too.

So MH has to sort out his formation and aim for more midfield control, but I still can't see many goals this season

DorsetIan added 11:37 - Aug 13
Many more positives than negatives yesterday. Westergaard was clearing everything, Ings particularly and Elyounoussi and Armstrong to a lesser extent all looked more creative than what we witnessed last season. Lemina was positive (although he could work on his first touch) and Redmond too seemed much more confident and thoughtful on the ball.

Lots of teams favour a back three with wing backs these days. I wonder wether it is Romeu who is the tactical misfit when we play like that because then we have really got 6 defenders, so not enough players to properly attack. I was watching him yesterday and his instructions seemed to be 'pass to Lemina' which is fine if Lemina is a few yards further up the pitch, but often he was standing right next to him.

With 4 at the back we could afford to have (maybe needed) a purely defensive midfielder and with Lemina, Redmond, Ings, Elyounoussi and Gabi all free to attack, the balance was better and we had them on the back foot much more. Great to watch.

Sanguin added 11:38 - Aug 13
This has echoes of the first game of last season against Swansea. We huffed and puffed and managed a draw against a team we should’ve beaten. Burnley were there for the taking after their trip to Istanbul on Thursday, I hope those two points won’t be as valuable this season as the two we dropped against Swansea last season.

We can criticise 5 at the back, but I felt the tactic was to keep it tight, then push players forward for the final part of the game to take advantage of a tired Burnley side. Tactically I think we were spot on, Burnley have been playing competitive games for longer than us and were always likely to start more brightly. That’s why the changes came on 55 minutes.

It’s worrying how much we needed to rely on McCarthy. But the two really bright spots for me were Ings and Elyounoussi (we already know what Armstrong can do) who look like they’ll settle well and make us much more dangerous going forward.

dirk_doone added 11:43 - Aug 13
A home game against a Burnley team which had just flown back from another away game in Turkey before making the journey down here was one we certainly should have targetted for 3 points. Three years ago this is the sort of game we'd have won easily, by 2 goals or more.

Most of our games this season will be tougher than that. Yet, surprisingly for most of the game, Burnley looked fitter, sharper and better organised than us and we were pinned back in our own half, looking more like the away team. As most the newspaper reports state, it was only a man of the match performance from McCarthy which saved us from defeat. It was only with the introduction of Ings that we started to pose any threat to Burnley's goal and at the end perhaps all the travel began to catch up with Burnley and in the last few minutes I thought we might even win it.

There were certainly promising performances from some Saints players, especially Ings, who looked a real livewire. But, ultimately it was very similar to the opening game of last season, a 0-0 home draw with Swansea, in which we also looked 'promising'.

If we follow this up with a defeat at Everton, we'll already be at the beginning of another relegation struggle, drawing our home games and losing away. However, if we show some genuine improvement on last season and get a point there, there will be some grounds for optimism.

I enjoyed our performance after Ings came on but left the ground frustrated that we hadn't taken advantage of one of our rare opportunities to get 3 points. I'm still hoping that Ings willl score the goals to keep us out of trouble. He certainly has the quick feet and the ability to control the ball at pace which we've missed having up front since we sold Mane.

saintmark1976 added 12:06 - Aug 13
Strange initial team selection, bizarre tactics until Armstrong became injured and a complete and utter inability to put the ball in the net all game long. What's changed? Very little I would suggest.

saintjf added 12:09 - Aug 13
A very good summary. Burnley are not an easy side to play against and looked good in the first half. They also have a very good goalkeeper with a point to prove. Yes we should be cautious but the second half was the most entertaining at St Marys in a long time. The fist half was not. Charlie on his own up front is not going to work. All the new signings on show seem to be talented and look good buys. It is not going to be easy but we are so much more competitive.

helpineedsomebody added 12:13 - Aug 13
i listen on the radio & to be truthful burnley are a good side played with confirdence & energy, i think we underestimated them a little bit not the team but us as fans.
the 1st 55 mins you would have thought have we changed managers in the last 2 seasons or were they still having input for this game , it seemed that nothing had changed was it MH system or has he been told by the WOPPING WONDER BOY that this is the way southampton play or were we all watching / having a night mare.
by all means play 8 at the back when we play away but when we are home MAN UP MAN & ATTACK.

bstokesaint added 12:17 - Aug 13
I certainly feared the worst after the first 15-20 minutes. We looked off the pace and a bit of a shambles in comparison to a well-organised Burnley team. We definitely stepped it up after Armstrong went off injured and Hughes was forced into a tactical change. It was kind of ironic really given that Armstrong looked about our best outfield player when he went off. Ings and Eloyounossi looked a much bigger threat when they came on and I thought we’d nick it. On reflection a draw was a fair result because McCarthy was definitely man of the match for me. I saw some negative match reports on our prospects for the season following this, but I think all of our new signings on this showing looked like upgrades, which suggests we do have a stronger squad. I think it may take a little time for the team to gel, but I feel more confident than last year. A little more positivity when attacking wouldn’t go amiss mind.

schatfield added 12:51 - Aug 13
It was a tough match and lets not forget that Burnley are a good side. There is a reason they are playing in Europe this year.

I do agree change in formation helped wonders. The new signings all look great so far, very pleased with that. And for all the boo boys who wanted Redmond sold or given away in the summer, take note! Joe Hart was in splendid form which helped them grab a draw, but so was our keeper. A draw was fair in the end.

On a side note, nice use of photos in your reviews now Nick. But the annoying pop up saying 'Ads help us run this site' can no longer be bypassed by clicking on agree, and the only way I can access the site is via google not through saved in my favourites......maybe this is just me accessing the site on my work laptop

DPeps added 13:16 - Aug 13
I don't buy the idea that Burnley were there for the taking because they played on Thursday. If anything that's an advantage at this early stage of the season because most teams are lacking in competitive fitness and experience. Plus Burnley are very well-managed and never phone it in.

As for us, we were ok. I'm more concerned about our defence this season, and that was alright yesterday for the most part. I do think Hughes needs to be cleverer with his tactics. As with last season we are too predictable. Agree with others about Romeu: we effectively have 6 in defence when we play with 5 at the back, which means we are very slow and limited moving forward. Not a bad start to build on

dirk_doone added 14:24 - Aug 13
It's interesting to compare this match verdict with the one after the 0-0 draw with Swansea at the beginning of last season, which ended with the words:

"Many things to be positive about from this game and indeed the rest of the season."

To be fair, Nick would have still said the same if we'd lost 0-3 and ideed did after the 0-3 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach.

Jesus_02 added 17:34 - Aug 13
I know every game is tough in the premier league but I’m a little bit embarrassed that I’m so relieved to draw against Burnley.

Best I can say is that its early days.

Ali_Diarea added 19:43 - Aug 13
On a couple of occasions in the second half we just needed a decent cross from the right and we would have scored. It was great to see so many players attacking the box! Dare I say it but I felt that JWP could have been the answer?!

aceofthebase added 21:12 - Aug 13
It's back to the Koeman days. He regularly picked the wrong team, played the wrong strategy and made changes at halftime that altered the outcome of the match. He always received tons of praise for the positive changes but rarely criticism for the first half mistakes.

If MH can get wins by making mistakes then he will get my backing.

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