Che Adams

Southampton outclass Aston Villa

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Southampton outclassed Aston Villa to win 2-0 at St Mary’s on Saturday.

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In-form Shane Long struck early and Stuart Armstrong sealed the win in the 94th minute as Villa never looked likely to draw level.

With the win Southampton move on to 34 points for the season and are in the race for European qualification. Villa are just one point above the drop zone.


3 things we learned

1. Saints almost safe: Ralph Hasenhuttl said he will start sorting out a new contract for himself and his players when they reach 36 points. They are now on 34 as they showed just enough class to get past Aston Villa. A clean sheet will delight Hasenhuttl as his team never really looked like conceding against a poor Villa outfit. Saints have played well in recent weeks without getting the points they deserved but on Saturday they dug deep to grab all three points. With a favorable run of games coming up, Saints are finally looking up the table.

2. Sky is the limit for Djenepo: He is one of the most exciting players to watch as the Mali international dribbles and wriggles his way towards goal. He could have scored a couple but set up Long’s goal and his potential is limitless. He is still just 21 years old and has a huge future in the game.

3. Reina, Grealish are Villa’s big hopes: Jack Grealish did his best to get Villa going, as he has done all season, but he had no real hope from his teammates as Villa were pretty wretched. Late on they chucked everything at Saints but even then they couldn’t break through. Pepe Reina made several fine stops from Southampton’s players at one end, even though his loose passing at the back put them under severe pressure. Villa head to Wembley next weekend to play in the League Cup final against Man City and that is a free-hit. Their main aim is to stay in the Premier League and they are now just one point off the bottom three.

Man of the Match: Stuart Armstrong – He finished off his lung-bursting run in the 94th minute to slot home Saints’ second and the Scotsman was tireless in linking together midfield and attack. Long and Ings set the tempo and Armstrong and Djenepo back them up so well.


Southampton almost took the lead early on as Will Smallbone, making his Premier League debut, saw his shot deflect onto the post and out.

The hosts did take the lead soon after as great work from Moussa Djenepo down the left saw him cross for Long who bundled home the ball. VAR checked the goal for handball but it stood.

Saints continued to dominate as Ryan Bertrand‘s header set up Ings who bundled his way through on goal but Pepe Reina produced a top save to deny him, then Djenepo fired over from Long’s cross.

Villa did improve a little as half time approached with Mbwana Samatta scoring from an offside position and Grealish trying to get on the ball as much as he could.

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Jack Stephens flicked just over from a superb Ryan Bertrand free kick and then Stuart Armstrong rounded Reina but sent his shot into the side-netting.

Reina denied Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg‘s volley at one end while at the other Samatta’s deflected shot looped just over.

Substitute Che Adams fired just wide late on as Southampton were a threat on the break as Villa poured forward in search of an equalizer.

A frantic finish saw Adams have a shot cleared off the line at one end then Villa flashed a shot wide at the other. Reina then came up for a late corner kick and Saints cleared, leading to a wonderful ball for Adams who set up Armstrong to slot home and send St Mary’s wild.

Redemption: Saints stun Leicester

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Southampton beat Leicester City 2-1 in a wild clash at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

The victory tasted even sweeter for Saints after their 9-0 humiliation at home against Leicester earlier this season.

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Dennis Praet gave Leicester the lead but Stuart Armstrong made it 1-1 and Danny Ings went close on several occasions before he sealed the win late on.

Saints had a penalty kick chalked off by VAR and Kelechi Iheanacho and Johnny Evans were both denied goals by the technology as Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s warm embrace with Brendan Rodgers at the final whistle showed a man who has come back from the brink.

With the win, their sixth in their last nine games, Saints remain in 12th but are on 28 points and just three points off seventh. Leicester sit in second but could slip down to third by the end of the weekend.


3 things we learned

1. Redemption for Southampton: This victory will be sweet for every single person connected with Saints. They were humiliated 9-0 by Leicester earlier this season and Hasenhuttl’s side dominated this game throughout. They should have won easily but dug in and showed amazing character, just like they have done since that mauling, to keep their amazing recent run going.

2. Leicester running out of steam: The Foxes have now lost three of their last five games and the wheels are starting to come off a little. They missed the injured Wilfried Ndidi badly and Vardy and Maddison only showed flashes of their quality. The Foxes would have to have a dramatic collapse to finish outside the top four, but it looks like a top two finish could be out of the question.

3 Unlucky Ings strikes again: He hit the bar twice in the first half within 30 seconds and was denied brilliantly twice by Kasper Schmeichel and it looked like it wouldn’t be his day. But he delivered late on to take his amazing run to 10 goals in his last 11 games. Ings is on fire and so are Southampton and he will be called up by England in March. A gutsy display by Ings who could barely run in the final moments.

Man of the Match: Danny Ings – Scotsman Stuart Armstrong put in an amazing shift in midfield and probably deserved this award, but the work Ings put in and the way he kept going summed up his, and Southampton’s, superb return to form in recent months. What a story.


Saints should have taken the lead early on as Harvey Barnes gave the ball away and Ings was clean through on goal but Kasper Schmeichel denied him twice.

Leicester made the most of that reprieve as Ayoze Perez’s quick free kick found Jamie Vardy who crossed for Praet to finish at the back post.

But Southampton, much to their credit, kept plugging away and hit back in the first half as Armstrong’s shot took a big deflection off James Maddison and snuck in to make it 1-1.

Ings then came so close to scoring twice for Saints as he first hit the crossbar with a flicked effort at the near post, then moments later smashed the bar from distance as Leicester were pinned back.

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Caglar Soyuncu then cleared off the line from Jack Stephens as Saints continued to look the more dangerous side.

Armstrong smashed over the bar and then a big movement of controversy arrived. Long was played in and was clean through but Caglar Soyuncu brought him down.

However, VAR intervened as Long was slightly offside when he was played in so the penalty was not given.

Che Adams came on and set up Ings to make it 2-1 as he nutmegged Kasper Schmeichel amid wild celebrations from the away fans.

The in-form striker should have wrapped it up again as Nathan Redmond played him in but Ings had a good effort which was brilliantly tipped wide by Schmeichel.

Demarai Gray was then denied by Alex McCarthy and Leicester thought they had grabbed a point when Johnny Evans nodded home in the 90th minute but VAR was used, again, and the goal was chalked not given as he was offside.

Southampton held by Crystal Palace

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Southampton and Crystal Palace drew 1-1 at St Mary’s on Saturday in an even, tight battle on the South Coast.

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James Tomkins gave Palace the lead at the start of the second half but Danny Ings equalized late on as the Eagles held on to grab a point against the surging Saints.

With the point Southampton have 22 for the season, while Palace have 27 points.


3 things we learned

1. Peak away day Palace: This was a vintage away day display from Palace, who scored from a set piece, looked dangerous on the counter and solid in defense. Until Martin Kelly’s poor back pass they didn’t look likely to concede and in the end they held on for a point. Palace’s away form has always ben superb and that was no different at St Mary’s.

2. VAR debate rumbles on: Wilfried Zaha and Palace were livid at a goal being disallowed in the first half as his armpit was offside as he crosses for Max Meyer to slot home. There have been so many marginal offside calls in the PL over the festive period and although the debate over whether the offside rule should be tweaked rumbles on, you can’t argue with the technology proving players are offside.

3. Ings leads Saints’ charge: He now has 11 goals in his last 13 appearances and 12 for the season, as only Jamie Vardy has more Premier League goals than Ings this season. Rested against Chelsea on Boxing Day, he came back into the team and went close on several occasions before slotting home to grab a point for his hometown club. Ings is on fire and he is the difference between Saints staying up or going down this season.

Man of the Match: Vicente Guaita – Palace’s goalkeeper made a string of saves in the second half to deny Saints and grab a point for his side.


VAR chalked off a goal for Palace early on as Zaha dazzled down the left and crossed for Max Meyer to finish but the replays showed that Zaha’s armpit was offside and the goal didn’t stand.

Southampton grew into the game as James Tomkins cleared brilliantly with Che Adams lurking, then Jan Bednarek couldn’t convert at the back post.

Jordan Ayew had a half chance which Alex McCarthy saved easily, as the visitors continued to look dangerous on the break.

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At the start of the second half Palace took the lead as Luka Milivojevic‘s free kick was on the money and Tomkins sent home a header off the bar and in.

Southampton had plenty of the ball in the second half but struggled to break Palace down as Cedric‘s header was close but then Martin Kelly gave Saints a gift. His back pass was latched onto by Ings who slotted home to make it 1-1, as Southampton’s first shot on target was successful.

Substitute Moussa Djenepo then went on a mazy run into the box which ended in him curling a shot on goal but it was too close to Vicente Guaita who tipped it over.

Ings then flicked a header on goal at the near post which Guaita saved and he flicked another over as Saints laid siege to the Palace goal late on.

Guaita then saved James Ward-Prowse‘s free kick and Milivojevic then slid in to deny Ings late on as the points were shared.

Southampton shock Chelsea

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Southampton shocked Chelsea by winning 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day as Frank Lampard‘s Blues continued their Jekyll and Hyde form.

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After winning at top four rivals Tottenham last time out, Chelsea were sluggish against Saints and were punished as Michael Obafemi and Nathan Redmond scored in each half to lead Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side to a big victory.

With the win Southampton move on to 21 points, while Chelsea stay on 32 points.

The defeat marked the first time Chelsea have lost back-to-back home games in the Premier League since 2011.


3 things we learned

1. 3-4-3 not the way forward for Chelsea: Frank Lampard stuck with the 3-4-3 formation which worked so well at Spurs on Sunday, but it was a surprise he went with it at home against Southampton. Chelsea have now lost 2-0 to Saints and 1-0 against West Ham and Bournemouth in their last four home games at Stamford Bridge and their young team has been a little naive. Lampard’s admission that they will be in the transfer market in January seems to have unsettled some of his players as their transfer ban is now over.

2. Saints alive and kicking: Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have now won four of their last six games but this was the most impressive victory of the lot. Away from home against Chelsea, Saints took the game to the Blues and their high-pressing style unnerved Chelsea. Danny Ings, their leading goalscorer, was left out and the young forward duo of Che Adams and Michael Obafemi delivered with grit and the latter with a fine goal. This was Southampton’s first clean sheet in 14 games and back-to-back wins have taken them from the relegation zone to eyeing a top 10 finish. There is still a long season ahead but Saints have finally got going.

3. Pulisic’s lack of game time concerning: When USMNT winger Pulisic didn’t start against Spurs on Sunday we assumed he was being rested to play against Southampton. He came on for the final 25 minutes and did well, winning free kicks and firing just wide, and you have to imagine he will start against Arsenal on Sunday. If he doesn’t that will be even more concerning.

Man of the Match: Jack Stephens – Won the battle against Tammy Abraham and he led the Southampton defense calmly. What a turnaround in his career over the last few months.


Early on Southampton were comfortable enough without having a clear chance on goal and the first big chance of the game came to Chelsea.

Callum Hudson-Odoi‘s shot was deflected wide by Jack Stephens and from the resulting corner Fikayo Tomori headed straight at Alex McCarthy.

Saints frustrated Chelsea in the first half and then took the lead as 19-year-old Obafemi turned, settled himself and curled home a stunner into the top corner.

Cesar Azpilicueta’s flick at the near post from a corner almost snuck in as McCarthy tipped the ball away.

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Mason Mount came on at half time for Kurt Zouma as Chelsea switched their formation to a 4-2-3-1 and Tammy Abraham slammed a shot into the side-netting from close range.

At the other end Nathan Redmond broke free and crossed for Che Adams but Tomori cleared superbly at the back post.

Redmond then spurned a great chance as he was clean through but Kepa saved down low.

USMNT’s Christian Pulisic came on for the final 25 minutes to try and salvage something for Chelsea but then Southampton killed the game off.

A break found Redmond and he calmly dinked over Kepa and in to seal a shock win for Southampton at Stamford Bridge.

Zaha reportedly suing agency of summer transfer failure

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Crystal Palace is in the mix for a Top Six place in this wild Premier League season, but controversy is right around the corner when it comes to their top attacker.

Wilfried Zaha wanted to leave Palace this summer, but no move materialized for the Ivorian.

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He thinks that wasn’t down to interest from other sides, as Everton and Arsenal were both reportedly in for the foul-drawing dribbler.

Zaha is reportedly suing his agent, Will Salthouse of Unique Sports Management, for failing to get him a move away from Selhurst Park.

His claim is quite intense:

Zaha is understood to have informed Salthouse in writing of his desire to leave USM last month, triggering the start of a potentially explosive legal wrangle, with the player alleging his agent is compromised by his relationship with Palace chairman Steve Parish.

He wants to leave the agency now, while USM wants to retain him through the year and keep a piece of his transfer fee. We imagine a move might’ve happened if they knew he’d leave the agency.

USM also represents former Crystal Palace star Aaron Wan-Bissaka and current Eagles players Andros Townsend, Jeffrey Schlupp, Cheikhou Kouyate, and Jordan Ayew.

AWB moved to Manchester United from Palace this summer, and the Eagles were said to have no interest in selling both players. Other USM clients to move this summer were Ryan Sessegnon and Che Adams.