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Southampton 2 v 0 Cardiff City
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 2nd December 2023 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton V Cardiff City The Verdict
Sunday, 3rd Dec 2023 12:50

This was just about the best Saints performance of the season, it was an all round team effort with the only disappointment for the St Mary's faithful that we didn't finish our chances and make this the comprehensive victory the scoreline should have been.

Before we start we should consider that Cardiff City harbour their own ambitions of reaching the play offs, they started the game with hopes of being in the top six should they win and indeed if that had, then they would sit in 6th place today on goal difference.

They are no push overs and this was a real test of Saints ability to show their promotion credentials.

The team news was simple, Che Adams was in for the injured Sulemana.

Saints were up for it from the kick off, you could see with their fluid passing that they were full of confidence after 10 games without defeat and it reaped it's reward after 11 minutes when Charley Alcatraz slipped the ball to Adam Armstrong on the edge of the box and the striker curled in a sublime shot to the top right hand corner to give the home side the lead.

That was doubled 4 minutes later when Stuart Armstrong went on a nice little run and got to the byeline and crossed, his attempt took a deflection and looped up and there was his namesake to head home from close range for his second of the game.

Now Saints had something of a rarity this season, a 2 goal lead and this gave them the confidence to start to play the possession game without fear, Cardiff did have their moments just before half time, but in the ,main Saints looked full of confidence and more likely to get a third than concede.

The second half looked to have started well as Adam Armstrong crossed for Che Adams who smashed the ball home from the edge of the area, but he was just off side.

From then on it was all Southampton FC, perhaps not by far the greatest team the World will ever see, but it was still a great team performance as we swept forward time after time.

We really should have hit a third and we certainly had the chances, Ryan Fraser after coming on just after the hour mark seemed to have the lions share, but just couldn't get one in the net, Joe Aribo also hit a post.

This would have been a great opportunity to sort out our goal difference a bit, but it was not to be.

Adam Armstrong got the man of the match and there weren't many in the ground who would have disagreed with that, the two goals aside he was at the heart of everything and also had at least two good chances to notch his hat trick saved by the keeper.

But running him a close second was Ryan Manning, he had his best game for the club, indeed perhaps the best performance in that position by anyone so far, his contribution in the build up to the opening goal gave him the confidence, but he looked good going forward and perhaps more pleasingly his defensive work was good.

But of these two deserve a special mention, the rest of the team more than played their part, as mentioned the possession game was fluid and we moved the ball accurately and quickly, it was a joy to watch.

When fresh legs were needed we had proven quality to bring on in Ryan Fraser, but Russell Martin left the youth on the bench, he had Edozie, Amo - Ameyaw, and Tyler Dibling on the bench, but opted for Sekou Mara and Joe Aribo as his only other subs,

Again they slotted into the side well, Aribo was big and strong replacing Stuart Armstrong and Mara worked hard in the last 10 minutes to make sure that Cardiff couldn't build from the back.

It was a true team effort from the goalkeeper who on a cold day had little to do, but when called upon stood strong and when passing out of the box always made himself available to get the ball back if needed, through to the front line and all of the subs, it would be churlish for anyone to suggest that any of the 14 who played had an off day.

Sadly though we did not make up any ground on the 3 teams above us, we were seconds away from Leicester dropping another two points, but that did have a silver lining in that it meant that we are now 5 points clear of West Brom in 5th place and 9 points clear of Blackburn who are in 7th place.

Our unbeaten run has slowly but surely put us in a strong position in terms of qualifying for the play offs, now the job is to hunt down the 3 clubs above us.

The games will now come thick and fast up to 1st January when we start 2024 away at Norwich City, those leaving St Mary's at 5pm on Saturday were a lot more confident than they would have been a month ago, slowly but surely we have been getting stronger both physically and mentally and Russell Martin has built a good squad that can cope with injuries and suspensions and perhaps just as importantly playing games in quick succession.

This last week started with the disappointment of dropping two points at Huddersfield, but a week later we have come back stronger and not only achieved the first objective of putting daylight between us and 7th place, but in making Leicester, Ipswich & Leeds realise that we are coming up fast.

Photo: Action Images

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Boris1977 added 13:12 - Dec 3
Very pleased for Adam Armstrong, he's kept focussed after what must have been a confidence sapping few years but has shown incredible mental resilience and both and saints fans are now being rewarded.

RM is winning games so it would be churlish for anyone to complain after the last few months.


underweststand added 13:53 - Dec 3
Best entertainment value in quite a while. We looked good throughout the game and Cardiff must have forgotten what the ball looked like for long periods.
Good performances from everyone and superb captain's role from Adam. A. in both attack and defence. For once we were convincing at both ends for the whole game.
Subs. looked good for once and both Aribo and Fraser might have got on the scoresheet with more luck.

Bowlercow added 13:59 - Dec 3
Unbeaten in 11 and counting
He promised us a team we could be proud of and that was certainly true yesterday Although AA rightly had MotM no one had a below par game and even the subs added to the overall performance lt has me longing for the next game like I haven't done since the RoKo era
I have always wanted more game time for Joe Aribo and he staked a solid claim for himself yesterday

JoeEgg added 14:54 - Dec 3
As Nick says this was probably just about our most impressive home performance of the season against a team that had their confidence shattered within the first 15 minutes.
Ryan Fraser to his credit was always in dangerous goalscoring positions, but he isn't a 'Danny Ings' and Russell Martin must be left wondering just how we could only hit the back of the net twice despite creating so many promising goal opportunities.
Clearly the loss of Stewart is going to be felt so maybe we can pick up a goal poacher in the January window. I thought Jo Aribo looked more dangerous than earlier in the season, and with Stuart Armstrong having two very average home games, could perhaps be given a start next time out.
What is obvious is that Leicester, Leeds and Ipswich are not going to concede ground easily, so although we need to see more of the same from the team, we still need to find that elusive goal scorer!

davidargyll added 14:54 - Dec 3
Cannot add anything to comments about how well everyone played and what a great result. The most enjoyable game at SMS for at least a year and I reckon every fan left the stadium with an enormous smile on their face.

I was reminded of a game at home last season against Chelsea who were all over us and whopped us 6 nil. What was most impressive about the oppo that day was the way all their players played for each other, were forever helping each other out, and it seemed like whenever we had the ball there were at least two of their players trying to get it back.

And that was what it was like with us yesterday: all for one and one for all, as a result of which, we made Cardiff look…ordinary, which must be the biggest insult to throw at any team. Tackling brilliantly, and tackling back especially and passing mostly out of the top drawer. In fact I can only recall one potentially expensive dodgy pass - by Charley A (by which time I reckon he was getting a bit tired) - but otherwise a very satisfying day.

As a PS, I wonder how fast Adam Armstrong is over 100 metres; I honestly think, on yesterday’s performance, he’s actually got faster - on at least three occasions I was stunned by his burst of speed - and can anyone in the league, let alone in the squad, get anywhere near him…?

DellBoyWally added 15:08 - Dec 3
The same possession football but each game there is less tippy-tappy at the back. Remember back to Sheffield Wednesday? 80% possession but barely got over the halfway line.
The football is starting to be fun. Even the drive back to N Yorks through the snow was eased by a warmer contentment from the game.
But the goals! Or lack thereof. Once the chances start going in, which they surely will, and we maintain defensive stability, we can start pressuring the 3 teams above us. Ipswich is possibly the weakest and could suffer from a smaller and weaker squad when injuries and heavy programme kick in. Our squad is starting to look strong and we have decent cover in most positions.
Away games against the top 3 could be crucial.
But let's enjoy the feeling from yesterday. 2 players, AdamA and RyanF, should have had hat-tricks. Our GD should have improved by 4 or 5 goals ay least. But it all seems to be coming together. Long may it last (Unlike the snow!)

A1079 added 17:33 - Dec 3
A really good result and by all accounts a good game and performance. I was not able to make it but other members of my family said I missed a good game and a convincing win. May be I should stay away as I went to Huddersfield last week and that was quite disappointing. It has been a good week for Saints with 2 wins against teams that are no mugs.

felly1 added 20:37 - Dec 3
Most enjoyable game I've been to this season.
We were so confident and you could sense the players were in total control.
Always good to see our more vilified players beginning to play well and silence the critics...i include myself.
Manning, Aribo and to a lesser extent Mara all did well yesterday.

SanMarco added 23:14 - Dec 3
At the risk of having to change my name to San Pedantico: That Chelsea game was the season before last David. We beat them last season.

It is looking pretty good at the moment. I am not over-bothered about us 'only' scoring 2 when we concede nothing. I reckon we are pretty hot favourites for the play-offs. Leicester will be champions but Ipswich may start getting nervous if they sense us coming up on the rails - and we are not even once round the circuit yet. Watford away will be a decent test.

landsdownsaint added 23:43 - Dec 3
KWP I was by far the best player on that pitch yesterday as he is most weeks but agree that Manning had a great game , we’ve so much talent at this level & those coming off the bench highlight that , Mara needs too work harder coz that lad has unbelievable talent

Block8 added 09:20 - Dec 4
Very good performance from everyone and yes AA got the goals and MoM. However lets not overlook the two guys that held the midfield area and started almost every move going forward. Downes was exceptional with Charles only slightly less creative and look like the foundation for us to work with & with Manning finally putting in a performance, we are evolving very well. Keep it going please, COYR!

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