Southampton v Fulham - Premier League

Southampton 2-0 Fulham: Dominant display sends Saints third (video)

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SOUTHAMPTON — It was utter domination from start to finish from Southampton against Fulham on Saturday, as the home side won 2-0 thanks to a rampant display at St. Mary’s Stadium.

Rickie Lambert headed Saints in front after 20 minutes, before Jay Rodriguez doubled their lead in the 42nd minute. The home side created numerous chances in the second half after out-shooting Fulham 20-2 in an extremely one-sided affair, but the two first half strikes did the damage.

Fulham simply couldn’t handle the home sides high-pressure approach as Southampton continued their best start to a top-flight season since 1983-84, with a fifth win from their opening nine games. Saints’ also kept their superb defensive record going with a sixth clean sheet in nine games. They have conceded just three times this season, the best record in the Premier League.

The Saints now sit third and are just four points behind league-leaders Arsenal, while Fulham stay in 15th.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men made a bright start as Adam Lallana picked up the ball in the box following a lapse pass from Philippe Senderos and drilled a ball across goal that Marteen Stekelenburg pushed out and Morgan Schneiderlin’s follow up shot was cleared off the line.

Predictably Saints pressed high, as they aimed to force the issue early on at St. Mary’s and the relentless juggernaut of red shirts just keep coming as the Cottagers.

source: AP
Rickie Lambert heads home Saints’ opener, the England internationals third PL goal this season.

In the 17th minute Kenyan international Victor Wanyama smashed a low drive past the far post, as Saints continued to push forward. And soon Southampton were rewarded for their bright start as Lambert grabbed the opener on the 20 minute mark.

(MORE: Mauricio Pochettino hails Southampton, believes “the sky is the limit”)

18-year-old James Ward-Prowse whipped in a great corner that was flicked on at the near post by Jay Rodriguez and Lambert lost his man at the back post to nod home his third Premier League goal of the season.

The Saints were rampant after the opening goal, as Jay Rodriguez took on three Fulham players before forcing Stekelenburg into a good low stop for another Saints corner.

As for Fulham, they hardly threatened as Darren Bent and Dimitar Berbatov cut frustrated figures up top. Before half time there was a brief lull in the game.

In the 35th minute Rickie Lambert cut in from the left after Schneiderlin won the ball well, and smashed a low shot off the post as he he almost grabbed his and Southampton’s second.

Lambert again went close with a back post header in the 38th minute, as Luke Shaw’s follow up shot was deflected into the side-netting for a corner. The relentless pressure continued.

(MORE: Martin Jol – We could have gone away with a hammering today)

And in the 42nd minute the Saints went 2-0 up as captain Lallana curled in a perfect ball to the back post and found Lambert who nodded across goal for Rodriguez to head home his second PL goal of the year. It was Southampton’s 13th effort of the first half, as they went in ahead at the break.

After the interval Saints continued to carve out chances as Wanyama rose highest following Ward-Prowse’s cross, but headed his effort wide.

source: AP
Saints’ domination sees them continue their rise up the Premier League.

After 59 minutes intricate play from Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne and Lambert saw the latter’s cross cleared away by Steve Sidwell as the Saints pressed for a third. Fulham were bamboozled by Saints’ movement and the Saints kept the ball for large swathes of the second period as ‘ole’s’ rung around St. Mary’s. Fulham should have broken through but Dimitar Berbatov couldn’t control a clever reserve pass, and as the Bulgarian striker looked to the heavens it summed up Fulham’s nightmare evening on the South Coast.

And the entire stadium rose to it’s feet to applaud Rodriguez in the 67th minute, as the Englishman sent a spectacular scissor-kick just wide of the near post after Ward-Prowse’s cross found him on the edge of the box. Fulham’s midfield were chasing shadows as Sidwell and Scott Parker couldn’t get close to the impressive Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Ward-Prowse and Rodriguez.

A flurry of late substitutions saw Saints close things out, with yet another three points and another impressive display under their belt.

LINEUPS

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Ward-Prowse (Cork, 90), Lallana, Rodriguez (Do Prado, 78), Lambert.

Fulham: Stekelenburg; Riether (Hughes, 46), Senderos, Amorebieta, Richardson; Ruiz (Kacaniklic, 80), Sidwell, Parker, Kasami; Berbatov; Bent (Rodallega, 74)

Allardyce on Palace’s “great victory” over Boro

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 25:  Sam Allardyce manager of Crystal Palace signals during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough at Selhurst Park on February 25, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images
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Big Sam got a big win, and he knows it.

Two days after tearing into his players for not adapting to his system, the Crystal Palace boss was glowing with praise after the Eagles knocked off visiting Middlesbrough in a relegation six-pointer on Saturday.

[ MORE: Palace 1-0 Middlesbrough ]

The win lifts Palace out of the drop zone, a point ahead of Leicester City who plays Monday. Allardyce is shaping his own Premier League table and he’ll try to lift a sort of Bottom Seven trophy after the season

From the BBC:

“It’s a great victory. I think the two-week break helped us refocus and that showed – today they made a lot of very good decisions.

“The three points are important as it puts us in amongst the pack, out of the bottom three and a bit closer to Bournemouth.

“I see the bottom seven as the Premier League table we need to try and win. If we can achieve more then that would be great but we need to make next week’s game against West Brom a game to win.”

Crystal Palace have too much talent to be in this spot, and Allardyce’s acumen as a “never relegated” manager has not been questioned much despite the Eagles falling into a worse spot than they were when Alan Pardew was fired. Is this finally their move out of trouble, or just a clean sheet against a Boro team that can’t score?

Conte delighted with his ruthless Chelsea machine

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Chelsea are a machine.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The Blues beat Swansea City 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to 11 points as the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal are all on a weekend off due to the EFL Cup final.

Facing a stubborn Swansea side, Chelsea went ahead through the excellent Cesc Fabregas and even when they were pegged back right on half time through Fernando Llorente’s header you expected them to kick on win the game.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

They did just that as Antonio Conte‘s men were relentless throughout and goals from Pedro and Diego Costa late on made it 20 wins from 26 games this season as their title procession continues.

Speaking after the game, Conte was asked if this win was simply another step on their way to winning the title.

“Yeah, I think it is another step,” Conte said. “For sure a good game, a good win and it wasn’t easy to play against them because I watched Swansea’s games against Liverpool and City and they played very well. I think today we deserved, a lot, to win the game. We created many chances in the game, we dominated the game in the first half.

“It is a pity for the goal we conceded at the end of half time. In the second half we started again and created chances with Hazard and then Cesc hitting the crossbar. I am pleased because now, to play the ball is not easy because the season is going to end. In this moment it is very important to have the performance of my players.”

The Italian manager also admitted that a pivotal moment in the game went Chelsea’s way. With the score still locked at 1-1 with 20 minutes to Gylfi Sigurdsson‘s trickery saw Cesar Azpilicueta handle in the box. Referee Neil Swarbrick waved away the penalty calls but Conte admitted the ball hit Azpilicueta’s hand despite it being very close to Sigurdsson and perhaps unintentional.

Moments later Pedro scored to put Chelsea ahead as they powered to yet another victory, their 10th straight at home in the Premier League.

Nobody looks like catching this Chelsea side as Eden Hazard and Fabregas dazzled in the drizzle at Stamford Bridge and Costa was at his clinical best.

A brief defensive lapse aside, this was a dominant and well-deserved win against a dogged Swansea outfit.

In the words of Jay Z – “On to the next one.”

That’s a trip across London to West Ham on Mar. 6, as games against Stoke City and Crystal Palace follow. The way Conte’s side are playing and finishing teams off, they could have this thing all but sewn by April 1 when they face Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.

Men In Blazers podcast: Pochettino, Lloris discuss “To Dare Is To Do”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 13: Hugo Lloris of Tottenham Hotspur and Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur after the goalkeeper was substitued during the Premier League match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park on August 13, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
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Rog speaks with Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, and head of coaching and development John McDermott in a preview of his film, “Premier League Download: Tottenham Hotspur: To Dare is to Do” which airs Sunday at 11 a.m. ET after Spurs vs. Stoke City on NBCSN.

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Watch Live: Watford vs. West Ham (Lineups, Stream)

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Troy Deeney of Watford (L) struggles to hold off Michail Antonio of West Ham United (R) during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Watford at Olympic Stadium on September 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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Vicarage Road is the scene for a Saturday afternoon clash between top half hopefuls West Ham United and Watford (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. EDT on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The Irons have 32 points and the hopes of continuing an upward climb to the position they wanted back when this season began in August.

The Hornets are two points below West Ham, having dealt with a woeful stretch in form to climb back to within sight of 10th.

LINEUPS

Watford: Gomes; Janmaat, Kaboul, Britos, Holebas; Cleverley, Behrami, Capoue; Zárate, Deeney, Niang. Subs: Arlauskis, Prödl, Cathcart, Zúñiga, Doucouré, Success, Okaka.

West Ham United: Randolph, Cresswell, Fonte, Reid, Antonio, Obiang, Kouyate, Noble, Snodgrass, Lanzini, Feghouli. Subs: Adrian, Byram, Masuaku, Collins, Fernandes, Ayew, Calleri.