Nathan Redmond

Aston Villa fuming after Saints defeat

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SOUTHAMPTON — Saints battered Aston Villa on Saturday and to make sure you have every angle covered for the marquee Premier League games, our new feature “In the Mixed Zone” will take you behind-the-scenes and into the tunnel areas to hear from the star players moments after their magic has decided games or drama has ensued.

[ MORE: In the Mixed Zone ] 

The idea is to set the scene of being inside the tunnel area in Old Trafford, by the dugouts at Stamford Bridge and in the swanky new players area in Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium as Premier League stars walk out of the dressing room and break down the game with media members around the world. We will tell you what they are saying and the kind of antics going on amid the hubbub of the mixed zone as players from both teams have their say on the 90-plus minutes of action we’ve just witnessed.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Here’s the scene from St Mary’s Stadium as Saints were relieved that they finally sealed the win in stoppage time, while Aston Villa were downbeat after another defeat and this time their manager Dean Smith was far from happy.


WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Southampton midfielder Will Smallbone, who turned 20 on Friday, made his Premier League debut and excelled in midfield with plenty of composed passes and he almost scored with a deflected shot which hit the post.

“Good celebration for my 20th birthday and then to get a start and a win today in the Premier League, yeah, it was good,” Smallbone said. “It was different. To play in the Premier League, it was a lot harder. I thought I handled it okay and did alright.”

Smallbone joins the likes of Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Luke Shaw in coming through their academy and being graduated to the first team.

“We’ve had quite a lot of players come through the ranks and you look up to them when you’re younger. To come through myself and hopefully do the best I can, it is very special.”

Smallbone is a special player and slotted in seamlessly to Saints’ midfield on his debut and sprayed the ball around nicely.

Dean Smith, Aston Villa’s manager, was absolutely fuming..


MIXEDZONEOLOGY

Jack Grealish was downbeat as he got onto the Aston Villa team bus and his mood reflected that of every Villa player.

What was most surprising was that Grealish got off the team bus and went away in a private taxi after the game instead of going back with the rest of the players and coaching staff. John Terry appeared to do the same.

For most away games that happens and players make their own way home or visit other places for promotional events etc.

But given Smith’s strong words about Villa’s display, it was surprising to see Grealish leave his teammates for the trip home. Grealish and Pepe Reina looked very downbeat and those two are Villa’s only hopes of staying in the Premier League.


IN AND AROUND

Michal Obafemi and Nathan Redmond were hanging around the mixed zone and the likes of Conor Hourihane and Alex McCarthy were on their cell phones loitering around.

Southampton’s players were all very happy as this win all but secures their Premier League status for another season. Villa’s team bus was a pretty miserable place as Dean Smith got on with a look of despair. Next stop: League Cup final against Man City.

Watch Live: Southampton v. Burnley

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Southampton host Burnley on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at St Mary’s as two teams in good form aim to push for a top 10 finish.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Ralph Hasenhuttl and Sean Dyche have turned things around for their teams in recent weeks and this is a great chance for them to pull further away from the relegation zone.

In team news Saints make four changes as Sofiane Boufal, Stuart Armstrong, Kyle Walker-Peters and Jannik Vestergaard come into the team with KWP making his debut and Nathan Redmond missing out due to injury.

Burnley make one change with Phil Bardsley coming in for the injured Matt Lowton.

LINEUPS

FA Cup: Spurs blow lead, erase deficit to top Saints

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For the second time in 11 days’ time, Tottenham Hotspur coughed up a lead to Southampton in the fourth round of the FA Cup, only this time Jose Mourinho’s side was fortunate enough to escape with victory on the back of their own comeback capped off by an 87th-minute penalty kick.

[ MORE: Christian Eriksen blasts Spurs for treatment, trophies ]

From 1-0 up inside the opening quarter-hour, to a 2-1 down with under minutes to go, to 3-2 in a span of nine minutes, Tottenham are through to the fifth round where they’ll host Norwich City.

Spurs went ahead in the 12th minute and appeared to be off to the races. Ryan Sessegnon raced into the penalty area one-on-one with Jack Stephens before losing out and having the ball tackled away, but it fell directly to Tanguy Ndombele just outside the box. Ndombele hit it hard and low, first-time, and straight at Stephens as he returned to his feet. The ball ricocheted off the Saints defender and left goalkeeper Angus Gunn anchored in place.

The lead didn’t even last until halftime, though, as Shane Long put home a rebound after Hugo Lloris made a diving save in the 34th minute. It was Nathan Redmond‘s initial shot which came in from the edge of the area, only to be saved by the outstretch Lloris. He couldn’t hold the ball and no one in a white shirt arrived to clear the ball away before Long reached the top of the six-yard box and slotted it near post.

[ MORE: USMNT MF Duane Holmes scores again for Derby County ]

Saints took their lead on a devastating counter-attack in the 72nd minute. It began with a Spurs corner kick at one end of the field and Danny Ings tucking the ball in the far corner at the other end.

That lead lasted almost no time at all, though, as Lucas Moura had Spurs level within five minutes. Lucas and Dele Alli played a quick one-two outside the penalty area and the Brazilian tucked his left-footed finish home just as well as Ings had done minutes earlier.

Son Heung-min won, and converted, the penalty kick that proved the difference on the day, but it was once again Alli who pulled the strings and set up one of the game’s crucial moments. His through ball came cut Saints’ defense in half and left Gunn with no choice but to rush off his line, though it must be said the contact he made with Son was minimal, if any at all.

Spurs’ fifth-round clash with Norwich will take place back at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium midweek on the week starting March 2.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Our latest Premier League player Power Rankings are here and there are some familiar faces sticking around the upper echelons.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Stars from Liverpool, Man City, Wolves and Southampton dominate our power rankings once again as those teams continue to impress in 2020.

[ MORE: Club Power Rankings

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]  

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


1. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – New entry
2. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – Up 2
3. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Even
4. Sergio Aguero (Man City) – Down 3
5. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – New entry
6. Riyad Mahrez (Man City) – Even
7. Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal) – New entry
8. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) – New entry
9. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) – Up 1
10. Danny Ings (Southampton) – Down 8
11. Adama Traore (Wolves) – New entry
12. Gabriel Jesus (Man City) – Even
13. Troy Deeney (Watford) – Down 8
14. Jack Stephens (Southampton) – Even
15. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Even
16. Ayoze Perez (Leicester) – New entry
17. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Down 10
18. Nathan Redmond (Southampton) – New entry
19. Jay Rodriguez (Burnley) – New entry
20. Nick Pope (Burnley) – New entry

Southampton cruise past Palace

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Southampton continued their incredible run of form as they cruised past Crystal Palace and won 2-0 at Selhurst Park.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

The scoreline didn’t reflect the dominance of Ralph Hasenhutt’s side as Nathan Redmond and Stuart Armstrong scored stunners in each half to grab all three points.

With the win Saints move up to ninth on 31 points as they jump ahead of Palace who have 30 points.


3 things we learned

1. Away day specialists do it again: Southampton have now won five Premier League games in a row away from home. They’ve beat Aston Villa, Chelsea, Leicester City and now Palace on the road as Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side are so lethal on the counter and seem to catch teams out. Their intense pressure pins their opponents back and the pace of Obafemi and Redmond was too much for Palace to handle. Six of their nine PL wins have come away from home and if they could somehow replicate this form at home, they will be battling for a top four finish. Southampton have won 65 percent of their points in away games this season (20/31), the highest such ratio in the PL.

2. Palace’s lackluster attack needs an upgrade: Zaha had an off day out wide but Ayew and Tosun ahead of him missed chances and didn’t look sharp at all. Palace brought in Tosun on loan and he blazed a great chance over at 0-0 and he probably isn’t the answer to their goalscoring woes. Only Watford have scored fewer than Palace’s 22 goals from 24 games and Roy Hodgson was a disgruntled figure at the final whistle. His squad have been stretched to its limits and hit by injuries and their exploits away at Man City on Saturday hit them hard.

3. Saints’ squad stronger than they think: With Cedric going down injured during the game, Jan Bednarek out injured and Danny Ings rested, perhaps Saints don’t need to do business this month. Maybe a new right back would be good, but aside from that Obafemi played well and Vestergaard was solid enough aside from one scary moment.

Man of the Match: Stuart Armstrong – The Scotsman was everywhere and had so many shots and he finally curled home a beauty. He has been a big part of Saints’ resurgence since they switched to a 4-2-2-2 formation. A special mention to James Ward-Prowse, who had to slot over to right back to replace the injured Cedric and shut down Wilfried Zaha.


Southampton started really well and had plenty of possession as Palace sat back and soaked up the pressure.

The first big chance of the game came via a counter attack as Jannik Vestergaard intercepted the ball but was caught in possession as Cenk Tosun went through on goal but blazed over.

Cedric and Shane Long both went down with injuries early on and Southampton’s Portuguese right back came off injured with Oriol Romeu coming on.

Moments after that sub Southampton took the lead as Redmond turned Martin Kelly inside out, then rifled a superb effort into the far top corner to give the visitors a deserved 1-0 lead.

Vicente Guaita then denied Stuart Armstrong’s deflected effort as he tipped it over the bar and the Scotsman dragged another effort wide as Saints dominate the first half.

Saints hit Palace on the break and Redmond set Long clean through but the Irish striker got his first touch all wrong and the ball went out of play, then Long’s flicked header went just wide.

VAR reviewed an incident on the break as Wilfried Zaha clashed with Ward-Prowse and appeared to put his hand in the face of the Southampton man.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Palace started the second half well as Tosun headed wide after good work down the left with James Ward-Prowse a growing influence in the game.

Saints doubled their lead in spectacular fashion as Redmond worked the ball inside and teed up Armstrong who curled home from distance to send the away fans wild.

Vestergaard almost made it 3-0 as his flick from a set piece almost looped in, then Long shot straight at Guaita from a great position.

Substitute Connor Wickham was played in by fellow sub Max Meyer but he couldn’t control the ball in a good situation and subs Danny Ings smashed over from an offside position as Saints eased to victory.