Three bottom-half sides are lamenting their positions after disappointing 10am ET Premier League kickoffs.
Newcastle feels like it’s seen this film a few times after blowing a late lead at home to Watford, Southampton feels they it just didn’t get the bounces in a deceptive 3-1 loss to Wolves, and Everton just can’t win after allowing two goals to a Norwich team that hadn’t scored in over a month.
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Yes, it’s a bad time to be near the bottom of the Premier League table, especially if you’re a team that hasn’t pulled away from the relegation zone as Newcastle and Watford are among the sides strengthening in January.
Southampton’s Ralph Hasenhuttl – Wolves 3-1 Saints
James Ward-Prowse’s terrific free kick could’ve been the start of a memorable result for Southampton.
But it wasn’t and Adama Traore’s late goal means the score line says Wolves were superior in a way most viewers wouldn’t have noted.
“We tried everything today,” said Saints boss Hasenhuttl. “I don’t know if the better team has won, but for sure, the luckier team. We had the very decisive moments in the game against us. We never stopped believing in what we were doing. From 2-0 down against this team it is difficult to come back but it’s an unbelievable free-kick by Prowsey.”
Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin and Eddie Howe – Newcastle 1-1 Watford
Whether that leads to wins, however, is another story. Kieran Trippier was good and new forward Chris Wood fine if unfamiliar, but Allan Saint-Maximin scored a brilliant goal to lift the anxious Newcastle crowd early in the second half.
But St. James’ Park instead saw Eddie Howe stick with a side that was quickly on the receiving end of Watford pressure, and Joao Pedro’s 88th-minute equalizer was a deserved outcome.
“I think you can see my face I am really disappointed,” Saint-Maximin said after the draw. “We tried to do everything to win this game. To concede a goal with only three minutes left, it’s really difficult. … We cannot just feel like it’s finished. We know we have really good quality and what we can do. It’s time to stop talking and to show. We really have to do some things against it because if this keeps going we will not stay in the league. At the moment it is not enough.”
Howe’s comments were odd, seemingly aimed at deflecting away from tactics to performances. What’s strange about that is that Newcastle could’ve led by a couple of goals at halftime but did not play well once going ahead of the Hornets and did not make changes until late.
That, of course, is when the Hornets got their equalizer from Kiko Femenia to Pedro. And perhaps, Howe says, this is about confidence and habits.
“We should have seen the game out and were so close to doing so,” Howe said. “I think it is mindset and confidence, not the tactical side or the players’ ability. When you are used to winning, it breeds confidence. Had we got over the line we would be saying what a great defensive performance. There is a lot more work to do.”
Everton’s Rafa Benitez – Norwich 2-1 Everton
Surely a trip to Carrow Road would be a test for wallowing Everton, as Norwich City is desperate for results to save its Premier League life.
But conceding two goals to that Norwich City in a loss? The same Norwich that hasn’t scored in more than a month?
Rafa Benitez has some explaining to do.
“I have enough experience and I came here to fix issues that, maybe, are coming from five years ago,” Benitez said. “I have to make sure I analyze these kinds of mistakes we are making and avoid that for the future. Other things are not in my hands. I have to do my job.”
The Toffees have spent in the transfer market this January but have just 19 points despite a sterling start to the season.
And Benitez sounds like a man who hopes he’ll be able to reap the rewards of his spending but knows it might not happen at Goodison Park, where his name remains tied to cross-city rivals Liverpool.
“It is really disappointing because they are working so hard,” Benitez said. “We are doing lots of things that are good for the future, bringing in new players, but we need to be winning on the pitch.”
Villa, Leeds, Newcastle, and Southampton are next. If the wins don’t come there, who knows when they will?