Saints At Brighton The Verdict Sunday, 31st Mar 2019 11:02
Saints secured their second 1-0 win at Brighton this season with a gutsy performance although they had to dig in at the end.
For an hour or so of this game Saints were in total control and more than deserved their one goal lead given to them after a sublime run by Nathan Redmond and a slide rule pass put through Pierre Emile Hojbjerg on goal to slot home in front of the delighted Saints supporters.
Up to the last 25 minutes we had been in total control and the Seagulls hadn't mustered a singe effort that had troubled us, we looked set to push on and make the game safe.
The first substitution seemed to upset the balance of the side, on the face of it bringing on Sam Gallagher for Danny Ings looked a reasonable change, Ings had worked hard and made the runs off the ball that had created space for others, it was sensible to bring him off.
But suddenly we seemed to lose focus and shape, this wasn't Sam Gallagher's fault, but we did seem to lose the composure we had had for the previous hour or so.
So what had looked being a comfortable win suddenly did not look so sure, but after a funny five minutes where the home side hit the woodwork and pushed forward with an edge that they had lacked for the earlier parts of the game, Saints dug in and kept a clean sheet.
So the good news for Saints supporters is that although we have our frailties and these can't be addressed till the summer transfer window, we have a team spirit that has carried us through games like these in recent weeks and hopefully will continue to do so and raise us up and away from the relegation zone.
This was again a team performance built on sterling work from the likes of Nathan Redmond and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg who drove the team forward and linked attack with defence, some tight defending where Jan Bednarek and Yoshida anchored a defence that had to be reshaped due to an injury to Jannik Vestergaard.
A few games ago we would not have dreamed that we would be on 33 points at this stage but two good wins in a row have put us back on the coat tails of the mid table sides and we are looking upwards rather than over our shoulders now.
This is all down to Ralph Hasenhuttl, back in November few had heard of him, now we have ! He has transformed the side, I have always maintained that the core of the side is strong and that we were badly led, a year ago Mark Hughes took over and lookng back seemed to be doing little other than pick the team, their was no motivation whatsoever, now Ralph has come in and motivated, focused and organised the side, he manages without fear and now the Saints team plays without fear.
There is still some way to go, but this performance along with some recent ones have renewed the faith of many and although the top 10 is going to be out of reach, I would not be surprised to see us up in 12th spot come the final table.
So another good win from Saints it was a game of contrasting periods, but we did what we had to do in both of them and that means that two more wins should now see us safe, but Ralph will want more than that and I think we just might get it.
Thankfully no "holiday hangover" after such a long break. A scrappy game and "nasty" at times, but we shaded it for skill and technique despite the fact they had 60% possession and had 16 shots ...and still only managed to hit the bar once.
A good team effort all round, with good input from Hojbjerg and Redmond. Seems like Armstrong is finding his feet now but still needs to speed up a tad to find Prem. level.
Back 4 all DAJFU on the day, not always pretty but very effective, and another clean sheet will boost Angus Gunn's confidence even more.
Not pretty and the last 30 minutes was nail biting painful to watch as we invited wave after wave of Brighton attacks on but all players (including jack Stephen's for all you haters out there) dug deep and saw it out. If Cardiff lose to Chelsea today I think we should be good for staying up now.
I was not there and neither have I seen the highlights, so I cannot really comment on how we played etc, so I say this with little or no knowledge of the game, but during the long period that we were in control and where this has happened in other games, I do wish as a side, we would capitalize more in those periods so we don't place that pressure upon ourselves to have to dig in and protect a vulnerable 1-0 lead.
But, a tremendous and very important result and there is now more steel to the side and RH instilling some belief in players that not that long ago looked like that they were only going one way and that was down.
I don't agree we are looking up the table, it is all about staying ahead of Cardiff. Until they are out of sight and we are mathematically safe, we will always be looking over our shoulder. It is not beyond the realms that Cardiff could win today (Chelsea are inconsistent these days) and if we were to lose our next 2 or 3 say and Cardiff win a couple then the picture could change again. However, I do agree that RH and the team have made things possible and put in us a position where we can dictate the outcome and not rely on others (at the moment).
A decent performance by saints I thought on the whole and just about deserved the PTS. Ralph H has done an incredible job building broken confidence in a short time without much change in personnel. I'm cautiously optimistic about the rest of the season but like others here won't relax until the maths cannot be overturned. With the wages which were off loaded in January the board need to look at how regularly our strikers play and beyond that score. As we know saints cannot afford to pay £20 million for a flop so the background staff need to do earn their money and work overtime to get around two very effective forward/strikers in. If we stick with Gallagher, Austin, ings and Long we will be in a very similar position next season. I'm not knocking their efforts, particularly Long and ings, but they are not up to fitness or skill levels required to succeed in top flight football. Of equal importance is keeping hold of all players saints wish to keep.
Well we may have frailties Nick, and I presume you're talking in the main about central defenders, but Brighton were fortunate not to be 3-0 down before their late injection of enthusiasm to try and actually compete for the points. In all honesty I think their defence looked equally frail if not worse for most of the match. That said I would have accepted a point as a good result before the game because both sets of players were bound to be aware of the implications of defeat and we certainly overcame our fears far better than they did. If Cardiff lose today and Brighton fail to win midweek then we can certainly go into the Liverpool game with heads up and go for another three points. Now that would be a cause for much celebration, should be a cracking game.
That game proved we need to spend some money in the summer on two new strikers and a centre half. Sam Gallagher does not seem to have improved over the last few years out on loan. Jack Stephens is always an accident waiting to happen.
So first, a win is a win, no matter who it is against. It was a game of two halves. In the first, we dominated and if not for 2 great blocks by the Albion players, we would have been up 2-0 at halftime. The second half started the same and then PEH scored it changed the tempo of the game. Couple of observations: (1) Betrand looked tired and uninterested in parts of the game. (2) This is a perfect example of why Sims or Long should have come in for Austin. Gallagher looked off the pace and we need someone with speed to provide a counter-attack that might get the second goal. I know everyone hates Long because he doesn't score, but the last 20 minutes were made for someone who runs and chases everything. Redman and Gallagher got to the keeper during his clearance and maybe long with his speed would have been able to nick it. (3) I think Armstrong is playing well and did great link-up play between the midfield and attack. (4) For all the Stephans haters (and there are many), this sub was smart by the gaffer as Stephans won two critical aerial duels, which stopped the Albion attacks. (5) Winning ugly (last 20 minutes) is better than losing pretty.
Now we are in control of our own survival. Let's keep playing well and if we are able to get the wins on the road, then we should be in good shape before the last 3 games. COYR.
Agree, it was a gutsy win and for an hour we looked the far superior side. The substitution of Ings with Gallagher changed everything. It's an uncomfortable fact that Gallagher does not meet the required level - he was slow and at times clumsy and with the subsequent replacement of Armstrong we lost all our speed and counter attacking threat which allowed Brighton to push forward knowing they weren't under threat of conceding a second. At times in the last 20 minutes we looked more like a Hughes or Pellegrino side; if not fearful, very nervy and forced deeper and deeper.
I thought Sims should have been the one to replace Ings for two reasons - his performance v Spurs which changed the game, should have been rewarded on merit with more playing time, and his presence would have given us the movement and space to keep the counter attacking outlet.
A word about JWP - he has rightly deserved praise for his improved form in the past 6 or 7 games but he was poor on Saturday - in part this was the 4-4-2 system which saw him playing wide right and he's just not the player for that position he and Valery were consistently beaten for speed and offered little in attack meaning we were narrow and compressed for most of the second half. Again on merit and performance both JWP or Valery could have been subbed....Sims for JWP and Stephens for Valery. Great result though and well done to Hojbjerg, Romeu, Yoshida, Armstrong and Redmond - all very good on the day.
24 pts from 16 games. Any manager who can get that out of a squad as unbalanced and frail as ours is something of a genius. He is getting as many pts per game as MoPo did during his successful full season. MoPo had a decent defence and attack - Ralph has a strong midfield and little else. As long as the midfield keep scoring I think we are just about safe now. I hope that the board support Ralph's strengthening plans in the summer - if they do I could see a decent season next time, with, of course, all the 'links' to big six managerial appointments whether vacant or not. Ralph has turmed it round for us and for all our moaning about decision making at the club the person who brought him in deserves a lot of praise.
I believe that Gallagher came on in large part to help combat Brighton's set piece goal threat. Brighton dont tend to score many from open play and with Vestergard missing some additional height was wanted for set piece. Stephens then brought on later to go completely defensive.