|Everton 3 v 1 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 14th August 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton At Everton The Verdict
Monday, 16th Aug 2021 10:19
It was very much a game of two halves at Goodison Park after some strange team selections by Ralph Hasenhuttl, but ultimately like many defeats last season we were architects of our own downfall.
Much of the talk ahead of kick off was the fact that Ralph Hasenhuttl had left three of last season's best performers on the bench, out went Kyle Walker Peters, Jan Bednarek & Stuart Armstrong and in came Valentino Livramento, Jack Stephens & Theo Walcott in their place.
The first half though was a good one for Saints, they won the ball when needed and looked good and were good money for the opening goal when Che Adams nicked the ball off a dithering defender and laid it into the path of debutant Adam Armstrong who finished with aplomb with a shot into the top corner which left the onrushing Jordan Pickford with no chance.
For those who believe in good omens, Armstrong's predecessor Danny Ings scored his first goal for Saints past the same keeper on the same ground almost three years ago to the exact day.
For much of the rest of the first half Saints dominated, they had chances of their own and in the main prevented the home side getting much of a look in in front of goal.
When the half time whistle went it was a very satisfactory first half and the travelling Saints fans headed down to the concourse in a happy mood.
Many were still in a happy mood on the concourse when there was a roar and Everton had scored before they could get back into the stand.
Everton came out like a train and Saints needed to weather the storm and didn't, the goal was sloppy and avoidable, a needless corner conceded and from the move Everton went ahead.
A little chip over Salisu's head left the defender in two minds, he opted not to try and head perhaps feeling he was so close in the ball would go back to the keeper, but McCarthy remained rooted to his line and Richarlison stuck out a foot, perhaps I am being harsh on the keeper, but the ball flew inches past his head with his arms by his side, you need a keeper with reactions and they were not on show here.
It looked tough from now on and Saints had to dig in which they did and they had a lot of the ball still, Mossa Djenepo was lively on the left and on several occasions skipped past defenders, but too often he failed to get an end product either a decent attempt on goal or a pull back to a team mate.
But with 15 minutes to go Saints had weathered the storm, the home crowd were starting to rumble and you felt that a subtle change or two might swing the game our way, but it changed against us before we could make the swap.
Iwobi had barely been on the pitch 5 minutes and with his back to the goal he turned one way and the next, but didn't seem to have anywhere to go, but we were too far backed off him and he swivelled and hit a shot that gave McCarthy no chance in the top corner, some at the time said that the keeper should have stopped it, but I wouldn't agree with that, it was a goal out of nowhere and too often we concede those, it could have gone anywhere.
We threw the dice, on came Diallo & Tella , but it was too little too late and before we could get a head of steam up Everton had a third and it was the Richarlison/McCarthy show again, the Everton man threw himself in where you get hurt, the Saints keeper was rooted to the spot, OK it was harsh to suggest he should have got the ball ahead of Richarlison, but it was again his lack of reaction and reflexes, he didn't make himself big he didn't throw his arms out, I'm sorry I can forgive a keeper for letting a goal in, but he has to make an effort, too often last season the ball flew past McCarthy before he reacted and it seems that is still the case.
In fairness too him for most of the game he looked the part, came out and got crosses and dominated his box, but he has a lack of concentration that comes from having spend most of his career as a back up keeper, you have to concentrate for the entire game and he hasn't got that ability.
But there were plenty of good points to take, Tino Livramento looked the part at right back, a good tackler and reader of the game he also surged forward, most at the game said that it would have been good to see him and KWP on that right side complementing each other .
Romain Perraud on the left looked strong and an acquisition.
Moussa Djenepo took on the Everton defence down the left wing and with a little better final ball could have done some damage, the home fans in the pub after the game were raving about him.
Adam Armstrong and Che Adams appeared to strike up a good understanding, the newcomer looked nippy and fast and was a constant threat and Adams did some great work to win the ball and find his new strike partner for our goal.
But there are still a few areas we lacked, we need an organiser in the centre of defence, I truly do not know what the manager was doing leaving Jan Bednarek on the bench and playing Jack Stephens, no disrespect to Stephens who had an ok game, but we were playing Everton whose game basically consists of finding Richarlison and Calvert Lewin in the box, Bednarek is one of the best blockers in the Premier League, we missed him.
A disappointing ending to a game that for a long time looked like we would get something out of it, but there are two times when we rarely win, the first is on the opening day of the season and the second when we go to Goodison Park, when they both coincide we have no hope.
Photo: Action Images
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