Southampton furious after ‘joke’ offside decision

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Southampton striker Charlie Austin was not a happy man after their 1-1 draw with Watford on Saturday at St Mary’s.

When 1-0 up in the second half Saints had a goal chalked out for offside by the officials, led by referee Simon Hooper, as Austin’s shot was deflected and found the back of the net.

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However, after a minute or so of confusion the goal was disallowed as Saints’ Maya Yoshida, in an offside position, was adjudged to have interfered with play. Yoshida didn’t attempt to go towards the ball and none of Watford’s players remonstrated with the officials as Yoshida wasn’t close to the ball. The Japanese defender said afterwards that “the referee realized they got it wrong. I heard that he said that.”

Speaking to the TV cameras after the game about the decision, a furious Austin didn’t mince his words.

“It’s ridiculous, they shouldn’t be in the game. We scored a perfectly good goal that was ruled out for offside. The officials cost us two points,” Austin said. “They said it was offside, that is a joke. People go on about VAR, they clearly need help. If this is the best, most-watched league in the world then give them all the help they need. It is a joke. Sure there are many positives, we worked hard, we deserved three points and we would have got that had we not been let down by the official. We feel like we have been let down. We started well, worked hard to be up 1-0 at half-time and we stuck to the plan. We didn’t get beat but we should have gotten away with three points going into the international break. The performance was there, we can take that away and we should manage the game. I’m angry is what it is, we should have won 2-0.”

It is safe to say that Austin could potentially be banned and fined for airing his strong views about the officials. But was he incorrect to call out the incorrect decisions? You can hardly disagree with his facts but the manner of his complaints may see him in trouble.

His manager, Mark Hughes, agreed totally with Austin and had a few more minutes to compose himself before hammering the officials further.

“It is not good enough, the performance of the referee,” Hughes told BBC Sports. “All we want in a game is the key match-defining moments to be correct. It is a skill, a talent and a referee has to have that or they won’t be at this level. The ref today is a little inexperienced. At 2-0 the game is over. It is unfortunate and a bad mistake. He admitted it on the pitch. I mean for goodness sake, he needed a bit of help. These decisions affect what we are trying to do here. People will say they should have had a penalty, it doesn’t matter. Our keeper could’ve saved it. Our goal went in and was ruled out. At 2-0 we could manage the game out, the momentum when the goal was chalked off went to them.”

Hooper was officiating his fourth game in the PL all-time and just his second this season and it appears his assistant referee was the one who called him over after Austin’s goal.

Saints are struggling just outside of the relegation zone with one win in their 12 games so far this season as they’ve now gone eight matches without victory and they’ve won just once in the last 12 months at home.

In truth, they should have conceded a penalty kick when Ryan Bertrand took down Nathaniel Chalobah moments before the Austin no-goal, so you could say these things even themselves out.

But they were two poor decisions and Southampton can rightly feel that if they had gone 2-0 up with 25 minutes to go, the game would be done and dusted.

The frustration from Austin and Hughes caps a tough week for Southampton as a whole, as Vice Chairman Les Reed was fired and so too was Technical Director Martin Hunter as Saints continue to struggle after near relegation last season.

Hughes and his players put in a solid display against Watford but they’ve now drawn five (the most draws of any club in the PL) of their 12 games this season and look destined for another relegation scrap.

WATCH: David Silva’s thunderous volley part of 4-goal Man City half

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If there was such a thing as a Premier League white flag, Southampton boss Mark Hughes might be tempted to wave it.

Saints trail Manchester City 4-1 at the break, a Danny Ings won and converted penalty its only highlight at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

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Man City will take a two-point lead on Liverpool atop the Premier League barring an unprecedented comeback from Southampton.

The match began with a Wesley Hoedt own goal, and Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Leroy Sane, and Raheem Sterling have been the stars of the show.

All but Sane have goals already, and we’re picking Silva’s volley (above) as the best of the bunch.

Watch Live: Man City-Southampton, Chelsea-Palace

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Manchester City and Chelsea are both at home on Sunday morning, looking to take advantage of Liverpool’s draw with Arsenal a day ago.

It starts on NBCSN, where City can take a two-point lead on the Reds by taking care of struggling Southampton (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET and online via NBCSports.com).

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Saints kept it tight with City last season, but lost both matches by a goal. Mark Hughes‘ men have gone 476 minutes without a league goal, the last marker a Danny Ings penalty on Sept. 17 versus Brighton.

City’s won eight of 10 to start the league season, drawing twice.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy, Fernandinho, D. Silva, Sane, Sterling, B. Silva, Aguero. Subs: Muric, Danilo, Kompany, Delph, Mahrez, Jesus, Foden.

Southampton: McCarthy, Cedric, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand, Lemina, Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Ings, Long. Subs: Gunn, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Elyounoussi, Armstrong, Austin, Obafemi.


An hour later, it’ll be Chelsea and Crystal Palace mixing it up at Stamford Bridge (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, online at NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Blues can pass Liverpool with a win on goal differential, going level on points with 27.

Palace sits 14th with eight points.

PL Sunday preview: Man City, Chelsea go for 11 unbeaten

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Two of the Premier League’s three remaining unbeaten sides will be in action on Sunday, when Manchester City and Chelsea attempt to match Liverpool’s 11-game unbeaten run to start the season.

[ MORE: Arsenal come back to snatch a point vs. Liverpool | Three things ]

Manchester City vs. Southampton — 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Pep Guardiola‘s side has already won twice this week — knocking off fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur on Monday, followed by a League Cup round of 16 triumph over Fulham on Thursday — and now they turn their attention to a drastically less tricky challenge in relegation-threatened Southampton, who entered the weekend stuck in 16th place. Yet again, Man City will be without world-class midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who suffered another knee injury against Fulham in just his second game back from his last knee injury. Alas, City have been incomprehensibly dominant without De Bruyne, who is yet to start a PL game this season, to the tune of a +24 goal differential after 10 games. Despite such a strong start, City are yet to put any distance between themselves and the chasing pack. Liverpool went top of the table with their draw away to Arsenal on Saturday, and the two title contenders appear destined to battle one another for the next seven months.

On the other side, it’s been more than two months since Saints last won a league game (Sept. 1), their only victory in PL play this season. What’s worse, it’s been nearly as long (more than five full games) since they last scored a goal. On the bright side, a pair of 0-0 draws have seen Saints pick up a point in back-to-back games. Manager Mark Hughes is hoping that defensive solidity will be a foundation to build upon on Sunday.

“It’s back to back clean sheets, which reinforces our feeling that defensively we’re in better shape than we have been,” he said this week. “That will help us and give us confidence at the top-end of the pitch to really go for teams because we should know that we have got good defensive capabilities.”

INJURIES: Man City — OUT: Kevin De Bruyne (knee), Claudio Bravo (achilles), Eliaquim Mangala (knee) | Southampton — OUT: None

Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace — 11 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Maurizio Sarri is yet to taste PL defeat as Chelsea manager, and he’ll look to continue his fine start to life in England when 14th-place Palace visits Stamford Bridge. While his side performed well on one end of its League Cup victory over Derby County this week, he wasn’t all too pleased with how they defended against the Championship side.

“In the last match I have to say Derby played a very good match,” he said. “We played well in the offensive phase, but a lot of mistakes in the defensive phase. It’s clear we need to improve. I am used to having problems like this in the first months. In Burnley I saw a very good performance in the defensive phase. Three days after I saw a lot of mistakes. It means we are a not a continuously solid team at the moment. It’s dangerous.”

Palace are yet another side starving for goals ahead of the weekend, as they’ve played 395 minutes (Oct. 1 – all competitions) without finding the back of the net, and are winless (two draws) in their last five league games. Sunday will see Ruben Loftus-Cheek up against his former loan home, for whom he excelled and earned himself a place in the regular rotation at Chelsea.

INJURIES: Chelsea — OUT: None | Crystal Palace — OUT: Christian Benteke (knee), Scott Dann (knee)

Best Premier League signings so far

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As we enter the fourth month of the 2018-19 Premier League season, plenty of new signings from the summer months have settled in well and are ripping it up with their new teams.

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Below is a look at the best signings of the season so far, as we assess which newcomers have made the best starts.


David Brooks (Sheffield United to Bournemouth, $14.8 million)
The Welsh youngster has been a revelation in the Premier League, scoring in three of his last four games and adding pace and a direct nature to Bournemouth’s front line. In his first-ever PL season, Brooks’ form is a big reason why Bournemouth sit in sixth place. Still just 21 years old, Brooks compliments Fraser, Wilson and King very well with his clever runs inside and beyond the last defender causing all kinds of problems for opponents.


Jorginho (Napoli to Chelsea, $73.6 million)
Turned down Manchester City to sign for Chelsea and it seems like an inspired decision. The Italian international has been handed the keys to the Blues’ midfield by new manager Maurizio Sarri, the man who joined him in switching Napoli for Chelsea, and he’s transformed the entire team. Leading the PL in passes attempted and completed most weeks, Jorginho’s ability to select the correct pass and get Chelsea going is a joy to watch.


Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City to Manchester City, $77.4 million)
Struggled initially after his huge summer move but the Algerian winger has found his feet in recent weeks with goals against Burnley and Tottenham. Yes, he skied a penalty kick in the big game at Liverpool, but that happens. Aside from that he’s keeping Leroy Sane out of the team right now. That in itself is a huge achievement and Mahrez is thriving under Pep Guardiola. He adds something a little different to City’s attack and as their only signing of the summer at a club-record fee, Mahrez is coping well with the pressure on his shoulders.


James Maddison (Norwich City to Leicester City, $25.8 million)
The 21-year-old arrived as Mahrez’s replacement and his form early in the season was superb, with goals, trickery and a real understanding with Leicester’s other attackers. That resulted in an England call-up and Maddison will be keen to continue to kick on under Claude Puel in a central or wide role.


Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria to Arsenal, $34 million)
The diminutive Uruguayan has flown under the radar a little with Matteo Geundouzi getting a lot of the plaudits in midfield, but his tidy passing and ability to snap away at tackles in front of the back four has helped Unai Emery turn things around for the Gunners. Arsenal’s defense looks more solid in having Torreira and Geundouzi rampaging around, shutting down attacks in front of them. While the 22-year-old is adept at starting attacks and getting the ball up to the likes of Lacazette and Aubameyang quickly.


Richarlison (Watford to Everton, $51.6 million)
The Brazilian got off to a rapid start to the campaign after Marco Silva returned to his former club Watford to sign the 21-year-old forward. Four goals in his first six Premier League games for the Toffees got everyone excited and he’s been playing up top on his own in recent weeks, stretching opposition defenses whenever he can. A call-up to the full Brazil squad has since arrived and he scored twice in September for the Selecao.


Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United to Fulham, $22.7 million)
Not a totally new signing for Fulham seeing as the bullish Serbian striker spent the second half of last season on loan with the Cottagers as they won promotion to the PL, but his impact this season has been obvious. Mitrovic, 24, scored five goals in his first six PL games of the season but has struggled in recent weeks as Fulham’s defensive frailties have been woefully exposed. Still, it makes you wonder why Newcastle let him go given their goalscoring woes, with Mitrovic a real handful for opposition defenders.


Joao Moutinho (AS Monaco to Wolverhampton Wanderers, $6.4 million)
A contender for bargain of the season, the Portuguese midfielder arrived at Wolves thanks to his agent Jorge Mendes and his close links to the club. Moutinho, 32, scored a stunner at Manchester United to grab Wolves a deserved point and has been superb alongside Ruben Neves in midfield. His veteran leadership, alongside many of his compatriots under Nuno Espirito Santo, has seen Wolves in the discussion as the best-ever newly-promoted team in the PL era. His class on the ball is unquestionable.


Matteo Geundouzi (Lorient to Arsenal, $9 million)
Still just 19 years old, nobody expected this from Guendouzi. Perhaps his manager Emery did, having seen him at PSG’s academy and at Lorient in the second-tier in France, but the teenager has been a revelation early in the campaign. Some would say he is the combative defensive midfielder Arsenal have been missing for decades, and it would be hard to argue with that. He is still very raw but he has all of the tools to succeed in the Premier League. A very promising start.


Danny Ings (Liverpool to Southampton, loan then $23.2 million buy)
Four goals in his first nine PL games for his hometown club represents a decent start for Ings after his move from Liverpool, but the Englishman will be thinking he should have scored more. That’s a good thing. Still a little rusty after several seasons of injury struggles, Ings is showing his best form in spurts and Southampton will hope he is back to his best very shortly. He has scored 50 percent of their goals so far this season which tells us just how important he is for Mark Hughes‘ team.


Honorable mentions: Rui Patricio (Wolves), Felipe Anderson (West Ham), Fred (Manchester United), Alisson (Liverpool), Jefferson Lerma (Bournemouth), Andre Schurrle (Fulham), Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool).