Saints and Baggies battled it out in the sun at St. Mary's.

Southampton 0-0 West Bromwich Albion: Stalemate at St. Mary’s (video)

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Southampton and West Brom played out a dour 0-0 at a sunny St. Mary’s on Saturday.

The closest either team came to a goal was a bending free kick from James Ward-Prowse as the Saints midfielder clipped the post in the second half. West Brom’s new signing Brown Ideye headed into the side-netting and was thwarted by Fraser Forster following a lovely bit of skill, as both teams struggled to carve out clear cut opportunities.

[MORE: Watch the full match replay ]

With the draw Saints picked up their first point of the Ronald Koeman era, while the Baggies drew their second-straight match as both teams flattered to deceive on the South Coast in a closely fought encounter.

[RELATED: Latest Premier League standings]

Saints were lively early on as Tadic ran at the Baggies defense and clipped a perfect cross that Graziano Pelle headed tamely wide. West Brom sat back and tried to soak up the pressure, then hit the home side on the break.

The Baggies went in the 14th minute as Graham Dorrans shot was well blocked by Saints defense but the away side began to rack up the chances. Pelle then put in a late challenge on Sebastien Pocognoli but referee Roger East waved away the incident despite a lengthy spell of treatment for the West Brom left back.

source: Getty Images
Saints and Baggies battled it out in the sun at St. Mary’s.

A nifty move down the left flank saw Tadic and Ryan Bertrand link up nicely and the latter found Pelle in the box but the big Italian striker saw his effort blocked by Jonas Olsson. Moments later Baggies ‘keeper Ben Foster was let off the hook as he came rushing off his line and Tadic beat him to the ball. The Serbian then whipped in a cross which just evaded Pelle as an empty net beckoned. Saints continued to build the pressure and a blocked clearance fell to Steven Davis who headed the ball towards Tadic but his left-footed shot was saved well by Foster.

[RELATED: Premier League stats]

At half time Shane Long replaced Steven Davis as the Irish international came on to face his former club. Less than 10 minutes into the second half the Baggies brought on club record signing Ideye for his debut as the Nigerian striker replaced Victor Anichebe. The forward was soon picked out at the back post after a looping cross from Pocognoli but he headed the ball into the side-netting with Saints under pressure. That turned out to be Pocognoli’s last action of the match as he was injured in the act and was replaced by Australian international Jason Davidson.

Southampton continued to push as the game closed out and in the 70th minute James Ward-Prowse rattled a superb free kick off the post as he curled the ball beautifully open and over the wall but saw his effort hit the woodwork. West Brom then almost went ahead as Ideye tricked his way past Saints’ defender but Fraser Forster came up with a superb save with his leg to keep the game scoreless.

Late on Saints tried to push for the winner but West Brom held firm to thwart the home side as the game ended goalless.


Southampton: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Bertrand, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Ward-Prowse (Cork, 78′), S. Davis (Long, 45′), Tadić, Pellè.

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Wisdom, Dawson, Olsson, Pocognoli (Davidson, 60′), Mulumbu, Gardner, Berahino (Sessegnon, 89′), Dorrans, Brunt, Anichebe (Ideye, 52′)

Klinsmann side-steps blame, calls USA-Mexico one of world’s best rivalries

Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT
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The rivalry between the national soccer teams of the United States and Mexico is one of the fiercest and most unique of its kind in the world of sports. Anyone who’s participated in, or simply attended, a competitive fixture between the two sides will immediately attest to that.

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Speaking to ahead of Saturday’s clash against Mexico at the Rose Bowl, it’s quite interesting to hear current USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann describe the rivalry from his point of view, both before and after having coached in it on a number of occasions.

Before we get to that, though, Klinsmann had a bit more blame side step regarding his side’s fourth-place finish at the 2015 Gold Cup, the USMNT’s worst-ever showing at the tournament for CONCACAF nations.

Q: What did you learn from this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, where you lost to Jamaica in the semi-finals?

A: There were so many things that happened in the tournament and decisions that were made that affected the outcome. It was difficult for the players to know what to expect. For Mexico and for Panama it was the same thing. The lesson is that you just have to roll with it and try to control the things you can.

What’s the no. 1 thing players can’t control? Who gets called into the team/plays in the games.

What was the no. 1 problem for the USMNT at this summer’s Gold Cup? Who got called up/played game after game despite performing very poorly. Ultimately, it’s what undid them in the semifinals and third-place game.

Just once — once — would it hurt Klinsmann to answer a question with an “I,” or “me,” or even “we?” The question was “What did you learn,” yet the answer always come back to “the players,” or “they,” or “them.” At this point, Klinsmann either believes he’s infallible, or he’s simply trying to see how many ridiculous statements he can get away with.

Q: You’ve been in the top US job for almost five years now and you’ve met Mexico many times. How would you define the rivalry between these countries on the pitch? Can you compare it with others you’ve experienced?

A: The USA-Mexico rivalry is one of the greats in world football. For me, it compares to Germany-Holland in terms of the intensity and emotion it brings out in the fans. As USA coach, it was a learning curve to understand how much this rivalry means to our fans. We had won some games against big nations, but the reaction from everyone to when we went down to [Estadio] Azteca and beat Mexico there for the first time was just amazing.

Q: What makes the rivalry unique?

A: What is unique is that there are so many Mexican-Americans living in the United States, so the rivalry crosses borders. We have seen many times in these last years that younger Mexican-Americans will wear a Mexico jersey to our game, and when we start doing well they take it off and have a U.S. jersey underneath! More and more they’re supporting us, and we hope to continue to win them over.

Klinsmann gets this one absolutely right. With the two countries situated right next to each other, the aforementioned immigration of so many Mexican soccer fans into the U.S., and the classic battles between the two sides over the years, USA-Mexico not only feels amazing to get one over on your rivals, but perhaps more than anything it’s avoiding that feeling of defeat, of embarrassment, of being taunted and haunted for days, weeks, months and sometimes years, that makes beating the old foe so satisfying.

Ozil, Coquelin: Arsenal can win the title this season

Mesut Ozil, Arsenal FC
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I suppose, in theory, that any Premier League club that fields a team could win the league title for a given season, so the above headline could have been written in reference to any one of 20 teams a few short weeks ago.

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Fast forward eight rounds of fixtures to the present day, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer with every passing week that it’s a three-horse race — Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, who currently sit 1-2-3 atop the league — for the 2015-16 Premier League title.

So — and stick with me for just a second — why not Arsenal? [The crowd gasps loudly] Arsenal midfielders Mesut Ozil and Francis Coquelin believe the Gunners have what it takes to win the title this year, so why doesn’t anyone else?

Ozil and Coquelin, on Arsenal’s progression to title contenders — quotes from the Guardian:

Ozil: “We have a great team with many world-class players. Our goal is to win the Premier League and I think that this season it’s possible to do it, if we all stay healthy. But the season is long.”

Ozil: “I didn’t expect [Bayern Munich] to beat Dortmund 5-1. Their recent results show they are simply in great shape … But our victory against Manchester United was a sign: when we play and want it 100 percent, then we can beat Bayern.

“We are playing at home. Although we have respect for them, we don’t have any fear. We know how to score goals against Bayern and we can be successful. It will be difficult – but we have the potential to beat any team.”

Coquelin: “We proved a lot of people wrong. Inside the dressing room we knew we could do good things this season. We knew we could be contenders, but obviously we have to be consistent.

“We are getting stronger against the big teams. We beat City last season, now United. It’s all about consistency. The league is getting tougher, so we need to be getting results every week … We knew we had to put it right after Olympiakos and that’s what we’ve done.”

Coquelin is absolutely right — no one expected Arsenal to throttle Man United the way they did on Sunday. The Gunners acquitted themselves quite well, though it should be mentioned that Louis Van Gaal set up United to fail miserably with the immobile midfield duo of Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger against a quick, dynamic Arsenal unit.

[ MORE: “Super computer” predicts final Premier League standings ]

That’s not meant to take anything away from Arsenal’s scintillating performance, because they did exactly what they should be doing against a poorly planned side — that’s not always been the case for Arsenal against top teams. The Gunners will play hosts to Man City on Dec. 19; perhaps we’ll better be able to dub them contenders or pretenders based their showing that day.