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Chelsea 3 v 1 Southampton
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 2nd October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton At Chelsea The Verdict
Monday, 4th Oct 2021 11:34

Saints almost got over the line and a well earned point at Stamford Bridge, but in the end the 10 men couldn't stem the late Chelsea tide. But now this game is out of the way we can start to move forward.

Before I start on this verdict I have to state that i only saw the first 20 minutes of this game, as some may know I slipped on the wet steps of the stand and spent most of the game in the medical treatment room after cracking a rib.

So I can't really say too much about the game, but I will say this, all I heard on the train home was criticism of the manager and the team, but what were people expecting from the first 8 games of this season ?

We end the 7th game of the spell from hell 8 games, 4th from bottom and still out of the relegation zone and now we can start to move forward, out of those 7 games we have played 4 of the top 5 teams, indeed 5 of the top 7, and in truth the only real disappointing game was the defeat against Wolves.

Those up in arms about a defeat at Stamford Bridge should just step back a moment and look at our start and consider that we have just lost against a Chelsea side that are top of the Premier League going into the International break, as a side we appeared to have spirit and battled hard to get back into the game and looked like we could get a good point until the sending off of James Ward Prowse with 13 minutes remaining.

From then on it would always be difficult and sadly we couldn't hang on and conceded twice in the last 6 minutes.

This defeat was no shame and we have tightened up at the back.

Now I am not going to say it is all great at the moment, there are issues with creating and scoring chances, the fault doesn't just lie with the forwards, it lies with the build up and playing down the wing and crossing the ball doesn't suit either Che Adams or Adam Armstrong who are more channel runners.

But we can adapt !

So to be blunt when I looked at the starting 8 fixtures, games in which we only got 3 points out of in the corresponding fixtures last season, back in August I didn't expect too much more than we have now.

Having got difficult fixtures out of the way we are not rooted at the bottom and we are now in a position to move forward.

The time to judge the manager is not after a defeat to the league leaders, but in another 6 or 7 games time when we have started to play more of those in or around us, not a knee jerk reaction to a hard fought defeat to a side that could well be Premier League champions come the end of the season.

We also have to ask what could be achieved by a change of manager ? the team still has a lot of spirit about it as has been shown in other games, it just needs to start to gel in going forward.

So although I haven't been able to give an opinion on the game as a whole, I was on Saturday able to view it from a detached perspective and the Chelsea fans I was speaking to near the end of the game were talking of how we never gave up and almost got over the line.

As I said i'm not glossing over anything, there are things that have to improve, but changing the manager will change little and ruin a lot of hard work that has gone on over the past three years to stabilise the team and the club.

A year ago Saints were top of the Premier League and Brighton were languishing near the bottom with their fans calling for Graham Potter to be sacked, now the positions are reversed and Potter has turned Brighton around and they sit 5th.

This is a lesson to be learned, these days football fans demand a quick fix, everything has to be instant and that includes forgetting how good or bad results were in the near past and only considering the last couple.

If Saints had beaten Wolves then they would be comfortably mid table and that would have been a great achievement given the teams we have played, if we beat Leeds United in our next game then the situation will look a lot different.

So let's just see what the next game holds, things can change a lot in football, as i found out myself on Saturday, one minute I'm walking down the stairs the next i'm falling down them and carted off to the medical room.

Photo: Action Images



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lemmsy added 12:05 - Oct 4
We’ll put nick
I actually wrote exactly the same comment on line yesterday,the most disappointing result & performance was against wolves..Could of /should of got more against Utd, city & Newcastle.I realise good displays count for nothing if you don’t get results but it really is to early to get excited either way.You make a great point about Brighton & fit those clamouring for Ralph to be sacked I welcome genuine suggestions of who is available?
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davidargyll added 12:16 - Oct 4
Sorry to hear about your accident, but despite you missing most of the game I do think you sum up our present situation and your views on the “change the manager “ brigade - they’re completely bonkers to think that someone else is preferable.
The conclusions I came to by the end of the game were:
1. Alex McCarthy has improved immeasurably and kept us in the game (until the red card that is).
2. Nathan Redmond had an excellent game, much better than his reputation and some commentators on here would suggest.
3. Adam Armstrong should have passed when we were three on two; but he chose to shoot, a sign of the pressure on him to score? I hope that both he and Che are not starting to prove the dictum that you really have to be an exceptional Championship player, eg Patrick Bamford (who of course had been a PL player prior to joining Leeds), to cut in in the PL. Breaking fast in one thing, not getting all muddled when you get into the oppo’s box is quite another.
4. For the first Chelsea goal, criminally no one was on the back post, a basic defensive howler.
5. Chelsea, for a lot of the time, were dominant in the penalty area but generally we were successful at keeping them out (until the second goal).
6. We do break fast but, as was seen time and time again on Saturday, nothing like as quickly as Chelsea do. A bit of a wake-up call in that department…?
7. The red card was in my view just about fair but for the fact that a bit of leniency given the conditions could have been justified.
8. Our next three games - vs Leeds, Burnley and Watford - without JWP (but with Stuart Armstrong?) are, on paper at least, relatively easy, so will give everyone the opportunity to see that RH’s view, that he has all over strength in depth, is justified…or not…
In summary we showed we can play really well and are showing that decent teams are built on solid defences. OK we are still very in and out in that area but nevertheless I do think that we are slowly improving, and going forward we do look a threat, a big threat but… threatening and scoring and miles apart and once again our inability to put the ball in the net continues to hold us back.
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Block8 added 12:24 - Oct 4
We had to queue at Chelsea ticket office because my tickets didn't turn up and nearly not getting them due to no photo ID, thanks twice there SFC ticket office! Then couldnt get to my seat due to someone splayed out on the floor, glad you are OK Nick :) I watched what I considered a fairly good display by most of our players. I think our reliance on the full backs to provide attacking options, our best it seems, is disadvantaging us and our wingers don't have anywhere to go but inside or backwards? We would achieve far more in attack with a genuine number 10 in a 433 formation? I still think the sending off was a bit harsh and would have had it been a Chelsea player! I suppose my main criticism would be why didn't we go defensive when JWP left the pitch. Surely had we bolstered the midfield, their strongest area, we may just have held on. Armstrong could have come on in central midfield or Perraud and rearrange the defence to allow Tino to move into CM.
And if I have a problem with Ralph's management it is his decision making when things are not going right, which worries me considerably.
Away fans great as always but Chelsea make even Arsenal look loud!!!
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underweststand added 12:41 - Oct 4
david argyll makes several good /relevant points (above) and as you noted (Nick) we have played 5 of the top 7 teams already and took points against City AND United.
The Wolves game was a real disappointment, but the next 5 matches should be "winnable " if we are to get clear of the drop zone. Those critics who want Ralph put need a reality check in comparing us to Chelsea and the two Manc .clubs who have bottomless pockets when it comes to top signings and world class managers.

Prowsey's penalty really lifted Saints and shocked Chelsea team AND their fans, until the red card incident. Looking at the highlights - it was a foul (even if the game was played in constant rain) and a yellow card was justified, but Referee Dean sank us again - even from the VAR studio and Atkinson was forced to agree with him, or show him up for the ******he is. Hope he retires soon.
Without JWP we had no creative moves and a 10 man defence that couldn't last out.

Alex McCarthy made a number of good saves and Tino continues to impress.
Adam Armstrong is beginning to discover what top tier football is about, (and like Che Adams' first season) is getting a tough baptism in the Prem.


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SaintPaulVW added 12:42 - Oct 4
Sorry to hear about your accident. I hope you make a fast recovery.

We played fairly well and had the outside shot of a draw. Unfortunately JWP going off, for a studs up late challenge - red card any day - caused us to fall apart. I still wonder why Eli came on when Djenepo and KWP were succesfully targeted as being a weak link.

However I agree, after playing 3 of the big 4 plus West Ham, it's been a tough start to the season. Add in the fact that we never start well and we are about where I thought we would be.

Over the next 5 games, better results should start to follow.

I would like to see a bit more use made of our speed advantage. Plus Diallo looked good at filling the gap and proving a link between defence and attack. The return of Stu A should give us a further direct threat.

So for me: Ralph In; Goals In!

COYR
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WestSussexSaint added 13:23 - Oct 4
I’m so relieved to read this article and the subsequent comments. I wasn’t at the game but saw the highlights on MOTD but the various comments on social media had me thinking this was the worst performance of the season and the manager and players had lost the plot.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but what I have seen in the last couple of days looks like some form of mass hysteria towards Ralph in particular.

I agree with the other comments on here that the only really disappointing result and performance was against Wolves. The rest were actually not too bad considering the opposition. The next set of fixtures are key. My view was that Ralph probably had until Christmas to demonstrate that he remained the right manager for Saints and a slow start won’t have done him many favours. I would expect and hope that the board take considered view of these things and act at the right time if action is needed and not knee jerk each time something goes wrong.

Fans have to ask themselves if we would rather be like Watford who sack their manager every 5 mins.
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schatfield added 13:41 - Oct 4
unlike Nick (get well soon) i did watch the full 90 mins. Interesting game, and we very nearly pinched a draw; Chelsea are so strong though. Still a bit worried about our strike force though but they will have easier games than that. I don't mind JWP missing a few games now - dont get me wrong, great player but he was starting to look a bit jaded and even his free kicks were not looking great. I think he needs some time out and it will be good for someone else to step up
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Bawdrip added 13:46 - Oct 4
Sorry to hear about your fall Hope you recover quickly. I thought we played well on Saturday and without the sending off (harsh given the conditions) we could have got a memorable draw. Mike Dean was wrong with both interventions for the disallowed Chelsea goal and the sending off. The referee had a good view of both and neither could be said to be clear and obvious errors. Dean can't resist taking centre stage and spoilt what was a very good committed game from both sides.


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saintmark1976 added 14:00 - Oct 4
Firstly, sorry to learn of your problem Nick and I wish you a speedy recovery.

Saturday was yet another game where under Ralph’s management we came away with nothing, when with a little tactical nouse we could have obtained a point. When J W P was sent off Perraud should have been introduced, K W P moved to right back and Tino to the midfield. Another example amongst many others, of Ralph making unfathomable substitutions. As for picking Walcott to start, words fail me other than to say that he should be nowhere near the first team.

I’m not a member of the give Ralph another chance brigade. He’s had ample opportunities and the record simply proves that he’s not up to the job of winning Premiership football matches. There is nothing to be gained in him being given more time, it’s just prolonging the inevitable. He stays and the Championship beckons. He goes and a new manager has a fighting chance of keeping us up.

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Number_58 added 14:04 - Oct 4
I heard it was only light bruising until Mike Dean got involved and upgraded it to a broken rib.
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SalisburySaint added 14:37 - Oct 4
sorry about your injury, wondered why you seemed so down on station afterwards, and understand now why you had so many pain killers (bottles of beer) in your bag, get well soon

after surviving the first half, thought Ralph's move to three at the back and pushing full backs forward worked well until sending off (not that his detractors will give him any credit for it), but we need to sort out the delivery of final ball into the area, which has been poor all season and a major reason for Armstrong and Adams struggling to score

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JGH added 15:06 - Oct 4
Overall I thought it was a pretty decent effort, as did the Chelsea fans judging by the comments overheard around me in the home section. Simply do not understand the 'Ralph Out' nonsense.

Completely agree that the next 5 league games (all of which are winnable) are now key. Really need to start scoring and winning to avoid being dragged into a relegation scrap.
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UgandaSaint added 15:32 - Oct 4
Will Saints miss JWP? Like Schatfield I think he looks like he needs a break, maybe we rushed him back too soon after his pre-season injury. His free kicks and corners have not created a goal, he doesn't seem to be covering the ground he normally does, and his tackling is a little late. He is a great player for us, and I'm glad he decided to stay, but current form is poor. His absence will allow someone else to try the dead ball situations and make us less predictable. Hopefully Stuart Armstrong will be back against Leeds. Luckily JWP will only miss 2 league games because of the cup game, but because of the (boring) international break he will have time to get back to full fitness.
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SonicBoom added 15:33 - Oct 4
I get your POV Nick and it's true.
What concerns me is the trend. Since the turn of the year I think we are rock bottom.
We've won 5 league games this year.

That must be a concern. On a more intuitive level I think Ralph is losing the fans. Usually the fans broadly agree with the team each week, if not the tactics. At the moment not a week goes by where the fans are onside.
Whether it's refusing to play Livramento in front of KWP , or playing players out of position, or his comments about Armstrong, or playing McCarthy or bringing Walcott back in immediately.
The list is almost endless.
For me when a manager starts doing different things every week it smacks of just hoping to find a winning combination. As for Walcott I'm totally lost. Apart from an initial few games he seems to contribute very little and is often the first (and early) substitution.
I guess I'd just like to see Ralph stop tinkering and trying to be clever and putting out a relatively settled side where players are all playing in their natural position.
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JoeEgg added 16:07 - Oct 4
As you will well know by now I am no longer convinced that Ralph is the right man for the job. Interestingly the all first comments here are supporting Ralph, whereas the majority of fans that I listened to at the week-end after the match wanted him out!
I think Ralph's position at the moment looks better than it is because we really do have some very promising players with Thierry Small another outstanding prospect for the future yet to get a game. Second half we really frightened a good Chelsea side - something, by the way, we did EVERY week under Ronald Koeman! However, we still ended up with zero points, no win, and a scoreline that could have been worse but for some great work by McCarthy.
I feel sorry for Walcott - a really likeable lad but he looked totally lost on Saturday. Surely we should be playing Walker-Peters at right back and Livramento in front of him giving Perraud and Small a chance at left back? Diallo must start and there are signs that, played in the right position , Redmond can still make a very positive contribution. So some of Ralph's choices just baffle me and I agree, that after the sending off of JWP, he got it all wrong.
Once again I fail to see where the goals are going to come from until we get the extra impetus going forward from players like Livramento and Diallo. Why does Ralph continue to favour Elyounoussi and Dejnepo ? The last impression I want to give is that I have no confidence in our players - I really like this squad and 4 points from 7 games is quite frankly unacceptable.
Now we come to Leeds United - not exactly a team we enjoy playing! Like Wolves (and like us) they have made a poor start and desparately need a win. So this is almost an identical challenge for Ralph and the team as when we faced Wolves a week ago. The big question for me is has anything been learnt and can Ralph get his choice of players (or more accurately, his choice of positions) right and produce the balance needed to get us a long overdue win? So Nick and several commentators above , chose to just write off the Wolves debacle - will they be equally content to forgive a defeat at home to Leeds Unitedshould it happen?

And finally - can we all agree - NOT ANOTHER UNNECESSARY AND UNWANTED INTERNATIONAL BREAK!!!!
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halftimeorange added 16:49 - Oct 4
I think we need consistency, from our manager who rotates the players as though it's a lucky dip as to whether your name comes out and, if it does, which position you'll play. Also, consistency from our players, several who seem to have one good game and then a poor outing - possibly because the tactical instruction is bemusing. For us supporters, it's difficult to reconcile having played reasonably well and lost against the need to have the comfort of a decent points tally. Maybe Saints will move up the table in the next few fixtures but, if they don't then the muttering on the terraces will turn into wholesale animosity. Ralph could usefully start by instructing whoever takes free kicks in JWP's absence to put the ball in at a height which gives Armstrong and Adams a chance of getting on the end of it.
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KilkennySaint added 17:00 - Oct 4
Sorry to hear about your accident. Hope your feeling better.

Yes it was a disappointing result after been level right up to the 80th minute. Holding out with the champions of Europe for that long is no easy feat, yes they were all over us in the first half and we got a couple of VAR decisions go our way.

At the start of the season 4 points after the first 7 games would be a realistic and a acceptable return considering the opposition, the real challenge for Ralph will be the next 7 games, with some winnable fixtures coming up anything less than 9 points and serious question will be getting asked, i like Ralph but this period will be crucial. i hope he get its right and turn things around.

The big concern is the attacking, creating chances and scoring goals, we just don't have the creativity in the current squad, i really question why we bought Theo, Redmond doesn't create enough (evident in the past 5 seasons), jury is still out on Djenepo, Elyounoussi needs more consistency. This should change when Stuy comes back. I would like to see Tella get more time and see Tino tested on the wing.

A Armstrong and Adams will work all day but without proper service its going to be hard for them to score goals.







6

landsdownsaint added 17:03 - Oct 4
It will come good we won’t go down & Ralph will attract some big clubs next season & we will be begging Ralph to stay as I see it he needs a better quality players & we’d see what a good manager he is but unfortunately each new player he gets isn’t as good as what’s just gone & allways half the price
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Ali_Diarea added 18:09 - Oct 4
I think our current squad is just not good enough and blaming Ralph is just scapegoating. I can’t see any other manager doing much better. I don’t always agree with his decisions but I think he still has the dressing room playing for him.

Since last season we have grown the squad but our starting 11 has gone backwards overall. Livramento was a great buy, Ings was a massive loss. Everyone else is pretty much the same as last year. The net effect is no goals and relying on four average wingers to create chances for our average strikers.

Hopefully Stuart Armstrong will be a missing link in terms of creativity but I think we’ll need to create lots of clear cut chances to score this season
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cynicalsaint added 19:23 - Oct 4
We have scored three goals from open play in seven games. It's like Puel re-visited, only not so defensively secure.
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cynicalsaint added 19:25 - Oct 4
... and none in the last four.
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kingolaf added 19:32 - Oct 4
He keeps picking the wrong players in the wrong positions.

I have no confidence in us beating the teams around us. Would be happy if Eddie Howe replaced Ralph ASAP.
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Colburn added 21:53 - Oct 4
I think accusing the Ralph detractors of knee jerk reactions and suggesting they need a reality check is way off the mark. The run this year speaks for itself and the reality check is the fact we have won 4 in the last 28 league games and it doesn't take a genius to work out that this is disastrous, not just a concern..
However this was not necessarily the game to give too much of a further judgement as nobody truly expected us to win it. I am concerned by the team selections though and in game management at crucial moments.
I think there is probably some middle ground here.. If we don't pick up a win in the next two games then for me Ralph must go, irrespective of this assumed start from hell, which I also think is an exaggeration. Wolves, West ham, Everton and poor Newcastle are not unwinnable games.. Difficult start yes, start from hell, no..
Lampard and his style for me will inspire our attacking players and we would be more of a threat going forward. He certainly didn't leave his teams any more open at the back than Ralph does..

More importantly though, I hope you have a speedy recovery Nick. All the best
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SanMarco added 22:41 - Oct 4
Get well soon Nick.

Given Ralph's result record this calendar year it is not surprising that people are wondering about his future. After the next three games the 'tough start' excuses (valid as they may be now) will have gone. We need a very bare minimum of 4 pts from the next three. I am not saying Ralph should go but he's not going to be given forever is he? I have seen comments about him not having money to spend - nor did Branfoot - Saints managers are rarely able to splash the cash.

This performance wasn't bad but we need more creativity and more goal scoring threat. If we are sacrificing those for being tighter at the back then games like the Wolves one are a warning. One cock-up at the back loses when you are scoring NIL. It is great to get high profile draws against the big boys but it will be scoring goals against the Norwiches, Burnleys and Watfords that decide our season.
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TeamCortese added 07:55 - Oct 5
Get well soon Nick.

For me, the jury's still out with Ralph. When he joined Southampton as head coach I was initially a massive fan. In particular, from the energy he brought to the club. I think he needs to work with what he has and make it work but at the same time we really need to sort out this ownership situation. I can't for the life of me understand why there has not been any serious interest to take over the club (aside from the Joseph DaGrosa).
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