Saints At Chelsea The Verdict Wednesday, 2nd Jan 2019 23:03
A point gained and a place dropped, but it was still a good nights work for a resolute Saints team at Stamford Bridge.
I said in the preview that if Saints were to get a point or more in a game against the Big Six then they would need to start defending with strength, Ralph Hasenhuttl revamped his defence including as I had predicted in the preview giving a Premier League debut to Angus Gunn and all put in a steadfast performance that meant that we deserved a point although perhaps not all three.
Vestergaard Bednarek and Yoshida dug in and Valery on the right had a great game as did Cedric in an unfamiliar role on the Left, but it was Gunn who stole the show.
The keeper on his Premier League debut looked confident and assured, he looked happy to be out there and not nervous and everything he did belayed his age and experience at this level.
But we needed a little bit more than just solid defending and it also meant the midfield had to track back and stay as a unit with Romeu, JWP Redmond and Armstrong biting at the Chelsea midfield and then trying to go on the break, Ings was replaced by Long at half time, not a reflection on his game just that we needed more work rate and Long provided that, we defended from the back to the front and after a month the fitness work is starting to pay off and we looked as fresh at the end as at any time during the game.
All in all a great team effort and a performance that gives us confidence that the team can start to pull away from relegation, but this was not to be the night for that, Burnley's win at Huddersfield leaping them above us.
But for us this was incidental, this was an unexpected point and one that makes our rivals sit up and take notice, ironically it was a draw at Stamford Bridge 7 years ago that in Nigel Adkins last game that started our rise up the Premier League, perhaps this will also be a catalyst.
Our future is in our own hands, three teams are only two points above us and we go into the second half of the season with more confidence than any of them and overall a stronger squad.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has taken 7 points from his 6 games in charge and has had a solid start given the chaos he inherited from Mark Hughes, but things have changed and will continue to improve, we have seen the worst and have still come out the other end in better shape than we were in a month ago.
Picking a man of the match is hard, this was a team effort, but for me Angus Gunn stood out, you could see why we paid £12 million for him and it wasn't to sit on the bench,.
At last a good all-round performance,now if only we would stop passing the ball to the other team we would be really doing well and wouldn't make me so nervous.All in all a great effort and a great result.
Wow, seven years have flown by but so much water has passed under the bridge since. The initial anger hearing of Atkins demise after the battling away draw at Chelsea still seems like a recent memory. Nice to repeat and another nice verdict from you. Happy for Gunn to have made the most of his chance. This confidence boost is a relief after the loss to West Ham. Hoedt and Gabbi not even on the bench... JWP getting a game, Romeo carded as per, PEH having a break, Long doing his stuff, shane we didn't nick it at the last. Cheers and Happy New Year to Saints everywhere !
A richly deserved point with a toss up between Yoshi & Gunn for MOTM.
Admirable mention for Valery as well who was fantastic considering he was playing up against 2 opponents in Hazard & Alonso (& sometimes Barkley as well) without any help from Redmond in particular-still has a lot to improve going forward but is getting better game by game defensively.
Very solid performance by the whole team. Our defense was well organized and particularly Yoshida stood out. We didn´t give them many free kicks outside the box - something RH has worked on, I´m sure. :-)
Remember how elated everyone was after Arsenal and Huddersfield ? Then came West Ham! I will start to believe when a string of results are put together, not just a defensive performance which a decent Championship side could do in the fa cup (Derby in fact actually scored two). Sorry but so scarred by last couple of years refuse to get carried away by a 0-0 result! Happy New year 😇!
A very good performance and result away to Chelsea which at any time would be valued. Good all round team performance and defensive display (for a change).
Similar to Saintsnil, I am not going to get carried away by this. Though I have faith in RH that in the broader picture he is doing the right things, I am still, a little annoyed at our approach at home to Man City. I am of the view that you play your strongest team when you can and I cannot help but still feel that had we done that at home to Man City we may have got some reward. The bottom 6 are now slightly cut adrift and the likes of Palace, Brighton, etc all seem to be able to accumulate enough points regular enough to be dragged into the fray. I cannot at the moment see the current bottom 6 changing, we just have to be the best of that bottom 6. It makes the upcoming Leicester and Everton games crucial.
I've just read the comments section on the match in the Grauniad and in particular the comments of those who attended, and interesting reading it makes too. Grudging admiration from most of the Chelsea fans but nearly every Saints comment is to the effect that Gunn was excellent and Yoshida played with his usual gritty determination and deserved MOTM. That was one of those games we just had to grind out and it gives me hope that we will survive in the league notwithstanding the other results going against us. If we can do that then we may be able to build for next year.
SaintBrock, Yoshida was very good last night, if you watched the game you will know that perhaps he gave the ball away a bit too often but defensively he played well, I really pleased that he did as it meant that he played his part in getting us a point, but its one game yes he is a wholehearted player but that is not enough to give us 30 good performances a season.
Dont argue with me about whether he is a Premier league player, argue with Pochettino, Koeman, Puel, Pellegrino, Hughes & now Hasenhuttl none of whom have seen him as their first choice, 121 starts in 6 1/2 seasons a quarter of which came in his first season tell the story.
This is fact not my opinion, good club servant yes, 38 game a season stalwart of the defence no !
I love it when he plays well, same goes for any player in the team, but I am realistic to know what the limitations are
Yoshida WAS our best central defender last night, just ahead of Bednarek, who has been the better performer overall. Vestergard still has work to do, and there's no room for anyone to rest on their laurels, though I don't think Ralph the Incisive will allow that. Bet he's hoping that Ralph the Prevaricator gets his finger out. Happy New Year to All Saints Who are not Simply Red but are Red Stripes from The Beautiful South.
What a great character building point. Felt like we deserved more than a point for it. Without wanting to sound negative this is meaningless though if we can’t put in similar defensively tight performances against Leicester and Everton. We need 4 points minimum from those games.
Nick, on the subject of Yoshi your analysis doesn’t tell the full story. The other side of the story is that that Yoshida has played for a number of successive managers, in more than one position and is still at the club. In that time he has also won an award for defensive player of the season and that was after he was forced to fight for his place behind three world class defenders in Lovren, Toby and VVD, the latter in my opinion, being the best defender in the world right now. I have far less concerns about Yoshi than I do Stephens, Bednarak and Vestegaard. I’d bring in two central defenders in the window if it was down to me so you’d have three players fighting it out for two positions with Bednarak being a fourth central defender and growing into the position.
Yes Gunn was good , so too Romeu and Vestergaard yet you persistwith your negative opinion of Yoshida (?). Since he came last winter he has had to content with different CB partners nearly every game, as well as a"fostering " a young Jack Stephens (who has improved a lot in that time). The issue about every manager's insistance on playing Hoedt week after week may resolve itself soon, but it is a tad unfair to consistantly blame Yoshi for the inability/ inconsistancy of those around him.
As bstokestaint reminded us, Yoshida was second choice to Lovren, Alderweireld and VvD in successive seasons when they were all performing to a very high level. Yoshi's "absence" was not so much a condemnation of him, as a credit to those who played at such a high level for so long. Let's hope we don't miss him too much whilst he's away playing for Japan later this month.
Very good performance to get a draw against good opposition.
Yoshida was excellent -that tackle on Kante was superb. Nick clearly still has his Christmas Scrooge hat on.
Gunn was great but a rare solid defensive performance in front of him helped him a lot.
Still worried that with so much resources committed to defence we struggle to make any effective attacks. We got clean sheets against Newcastle and Bournemouth by stacking up defenders and similarly created next to nothing so with the step up in opposition this is a good point but I'm not getting too carried away yet.
I'm not expecting us to charge up the table out of trouble but anticipating a tense battle until the end of the season as the squad adapts and RH works with what he has available.
Hopefully next season we will see some real progress.