Southampton ease past sorry Fulham (video)

Leave a comment
  • Romeu, Ward-Prowse score goals
  • Saints two points above bottom three
  • Fulham 10 points from safety
  • Cottagers yet to win away

Southampton beat Fulham 2-0 at St Mary’s on Wednesday to drag themselves out of the relegation zone and pour more misery on the Cottagers.

First half goals from Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse did the business for Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side, while Fulham’s fans booed Claudio Ranieri and mocked their players throughout a woeful display.

Their status as a Premier League club is now in real jeopardy as they failed to turn up for a game they had to win to have any chance of staying up. Fulham are now 10 points from safety with 10 games to go.

With the win Saints now have 27 points and move two points above Cardiff, while Fulham have 17 points and remain in 19th place.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Saints had plenty of the ball early on with Nathan Redmond smashing over after some smart footwork.

Calum Chambers had a shot deflected wide after a wonderful flowing move from Fulham, then Redmond had a shot deflected over as the game got going.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Charlie Austin almost got on the end of a Ryan Bertrand cross before half time and from the resulting corner Saints took the lead. Bertrand’s corner caught Segio Rico flapping at it and Oriol Romeu’s shot from outside the box deflected in. 1-0.

Before the break Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg sent a shot from the edge of the box inches wide as Saints took control of the game. Fulham were a threat on the break as Aleksandar Mitrovic turned well in the box but Yan Valery blocked the shot and then Mitrovic fired over.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

However, Saints got their second goal before the interval after good pressure forced Fulham into a mistake and Ward-Prowse followed up Redmond’s shot after Rico parried it. 2-0.

At the start of the second half Redmond was found with a short free kick but he dragged his shot wide with Saints attackers unable to get on the end of it.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Saints had several chances to stretch their lead but Fulham almost made it interesting as Ryan Babel hit the crossbar with a shot.

The Fulham fans then vented their frustration at Claudio Ranieri and Director of Football Operations Tony Khan in the final moments, as the Cottagers are now in a huge amount of trouble in 19th place.

Hasenhuttl “unbelievably proud” of Southampton’s warriors

Leave a comment

Ralph Hasenhuttl hailed his 10-man Southampton side for digging deep to win away at Leicester City and drag themselves out of the relegation zone. 

Saints were 2-0 up at half time but had Yan Valery sent off in the 45th minute, putting them up against it in the second half. Leicester had 85 percent possession and 19 attempts at goal in the second period, but scored just once as Saints put in a valiant defensive display to secure a huge three points.

Speaking after the game, Hasenhuttl praised the mentality of his players and suggested they rather enjoyed the challenge.

“The second half was getting in the same compact with the defense and to try to defend,” Hasenhuttl said. “This manner and mainly the passion and the mentality was the winner of this game today. I thought we got too early 2-1, so it would be a long time then to get something here. The players enjoyed it. They felt the way we defend it is very difficult for the opponents to score. The longer the game went on, the more stable we were.”

Hasenhuttl also told BBC’s Match of the Day that he is “unbelievably proud” of his players.

“To be manager of this team, it’s a fantastic job,” Hasenhuttl said. “Today they showed their quality. To go 2-0 in the lead at Leicester is not easy and we defended with fantastic commitment.”

This feels like a massive moment in Southampton’s season.

Saints have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team in the Premier League this season but their players stood up to the challenge and were calm despite being pegged back to 2-1 with over 30 minutes remaining. Jan Bednarek, Oriol Romeu, Long, Jannik Vestergaard and Jack Stephens were all impressive as they made sure Hasenhuttl will have a selection dilemma in the weeks to come.

They were without regulars Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Charlie Austin (both suspended), Danny Ings, Michael Obafemi, Mario Lemina, Ryan Bertrand (all injured) and Maya Yoshida (on international duty at the Asian Cup) and had eight players from their famed academy in their 18-man squad. Callum Slattery made his Premier League debut as a sub, while Sam Gallagher played his first minutes of the PL season late on as Hasenhuttl’s squad was stretched to the limit.

No matter who was out there Saints’ players showed they are fighting for their new manager, and Hasenhuttl has now won three of his first seven PL games as Southampton manager. That equals as many victories as Mark Hughes, the man he replaced, managed in 22 matches as Saints boss.

Hasenhuttl has momentum and Southampton now have a favorable run of games with Everton, Crystal Palace and Cardiff City at home, plus a trip to Burnley. The next few weeks are pivotal for their chances of not only staying in the Premier League but pushing themselves into midtable.

PL preview: More good times for Man Utd? Chelsea host Saints

Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Leave a comment

While the entire soccer world awaits the big one on Thursday — you know, Manchester City hosting Liverpool in top-of-the-table clash that could either signal the Premier League title race being back on or all but finished — Wednesday’s six-game schedule should hold us over for 24 hours…

[ MORE: Spurs sail to win at Cardiff City | Arsenal hammer Fulham ]

Chelsea v. Southampton — 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Heading into Wednesday’s showdown with Southampton at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea appear largely locked into a battle, with Arsenal, for fourth place. The Blues, however, could simply refuse to let the Gunners — who trail by two points after having already played on Tuesday — get too close to them and position themselves for a coup slightly higher in the PL table. A win would move Maurizio Sarri‘s side to within a point of third-place Manchester City and just two back of second-place Tottenham Hotspur. Sarri’s side is currently dealing something of a short-term injury crisis and could be handcuffed in making his team selection.

“In the last two days we were a bit unlucky. Yesterday in 10 minutes we had three injuries: (Cesc) Fabregas, (Ruben) Loftus-Cheek and (Danny) Drinkwater,” Sarri said this week. “Now today Giroud, and we were already without Pedro and (Callum) Hudson-Odoi, so now we are in trouble because in January we have to play every three days.”

Southampton, meanwhile, remain very much in the relegation scrap at the bottom of the table. Finally out of the bottom-three, Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side can now turn its focus to creating a bit of a cushion between themselves and 18th place. Back-to-back wins two weeks ago were Saints’ ticket out of the relegation zone, but back-to-back defeats in the interim have seen them slip back to an equal points tally with 18th-place Burnley.

INJURIES: Chelsea — QUESTIONABLE: Olivier Giroud (ankle), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back), Pedro (hamstring), Cesc Fabregas (neck) | Southampton — OUT: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (suspension), Ryan Bertrand (back), Michael Obafemi (undisclosed)


Newcastle United v. Man United — 3 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

Just two places — but a full eight points — below Chelsea in the table, you’ll find a suddenly resurgent Manchester United under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Since Jose Mourinho was sent packing, the Red Devils have won three straight games with the flair and goal-scoring prowess once associated with arguably the greatest club in English soccer history. No one has been more resurgent than Paul Pogba, whose four goals and three assists are the biggest reason Man United have outscored those three opponents by a margin of 12-3. Should the good times continue so loosely the rest of the season — especially when the quality of competition rises considerably — it would be hard to imagine Solskjaer not being a serious contender for the job on a permanent basis.

Newcastle United, on the other hand, know who’ll be their manager for as long as he’s willing to stick around and deal with the, shall we say, extenuating circumstances which make the job of keeping the Magpies in the PL far more difficult than it should be. Entering round no. 21 this week, Newcastle sit 15th in the table, just three points clear of the relegation zone. With a manager of Rafa Benitez‘s pedigree, and even a middling transfer and wage budget, Newcastle would comfortably be mid-table and two-thirds of their way to safety already. If not for the contributions of Salomon Rondon — five of Newcastle’s 15 goals this season — they would likely be two-thirds of their way to relegation, and Benitez two-thirds of his way back to sunny Spain, already.

INJURIES: Newcastle — OUT: Florian Lejeune (fitness), Sung-Yueng Ki (international duty) | Man United — OUT: Chris Smalling (foot), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed); RETURNING: Alexis Sanchez (hamsrting)


Wednesday’s remaining PL schedule

West Ham vs. Brighton — 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold
Wolves vs. Crystal Palace — 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold
Bournemouth vs. Watford — 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold
Huddersfield vs. Burnley 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

PL Sunday preview: Liverpool v. Man United at Anfield

Leave a comment

Premier League fixtures don’t get any bigger — or more heated — than Liverpool versus Manchester United, longtime rivals who’ll renew pleasantries at Anfield on Sunday…

[ MORE: Spurs grab stoppage-time win vs. Burnley | Man City go top again ]

Southampton v. Arsenal — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold [ STREAM ]

Heading into Sunday’s meeting at St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton haven’t won in 14 games (all competitions — after 90 minutes), while Arsenal haven’t lost in just as many games, in the PL alone (unbeaten in 22 games in all competitions). Predictably, Saints find themselves stuck in the relegation zone, with the halfway point of the season looming ever so large, and a new manager hoping to make his mark and a major impact on a club quickly spiraling out of control. Ralph Hasenhuttl made his debut as Southampton manager last weekend, but suffered a 1-0 defeat to fellow relegation battlers Cardiff City.

As for Arsenal, the unbeaten run has earned new manager Unai Emery a long leash with Gunners fans, but his side enters the week in fifth place, behind Chelsea on goal differential. Sunday could see the return of defender and captain Laurent Koscielny in league play after the 33-year-old Frenchman made his first appearance in seven months during Thursday’s Europa League victory over Qarabag.

INJURIES: Southampton — QUESTIONABLE: Ryan Bertrand (back), Danny Ings (hamstring), Shane Long (ankle), Cedirc Soares (calf) | Arsenal — OUT: Sokratis Papastathopoulos (suspension), Danny Welbeck (ankle), Shkodran Mustafi (suspension), Rob Holding (knee)

Brighton & Hove Albion v. Chelsea — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

Chelsea’s recent form has been a rollercoaster of results, alternating losses and wins in their last four league games. They did, however, put together perhaps the best performance of any side in the PL all season last time out, handing Manchester City their first defeat in a 2-0 conquering at Stamford Bridge. Maurizio Sarri‘s side came back down to earth on Thursday, though, as the Blues struggled to secure a 2-2 draw away to Hungarian side MOL Vidi FC in the Europa League, and the club’s fans were accused of spewing anti-Semitic chants and slurs just days after the very public incident involving four Chelsea fans and Man City star Raheem Sterling.

Brighton won’t be a pushover at Falmer Stadium, where the Seagulls have compiled and impressive 4W-2D-1L record this season. Chris Hughton‘s side has managed to knock off a handful of mid-table sides at home thus far, but a scalp the size of Chelsea would be easily the most impressive outing to date. Brighton dropped both league meetings with the Blues last season, losing 4-0 at home and 2-0 away.

INJURIES: Brighton — OUT: Shane Duffy (suspension) | Chelsea — OUT: Mateo Kovacic (thigh)

Liverpool v. Manchester United — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN [ STREAM ]

For all that Jurgen Klopp has achieved since taking the Liverpool job in October 2015 — and he has done a great deal of good to re-establish the club, both domestically and on the continent — the second-most notable failure of Klopp’s tenure, behind only “winning a trophy,” remains his 0W-3D-2L record against Man United in league play. While the Reds have surpassed the Red Devils and long left them behind in the PL’s hierarchy, a victory over the bitter rivals from Manchester has remained elusive, including a 0W-2D-1L record at Anfield, site of Sunday’s showdown, with a grand total of one goal scored in the three games.

The tables have clearly turned from the days of United dominating the PL and winning 13 of 21 league titles from 1992 to 2013, period in which Liverpool managed a trio of second-place finishes — coming second to United once, and besting them twice. A win on Sunday would not only see Klopp knock off his bogey team for the first time, but would lift Liverpool back ahead of Man City in the title race; a win for United, meanwhile, would help them to hold off newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers for sixth place.

United, all but the forgotten side of the top-six, have endured hard times at both ends of the field this season — their 28 goals scored are the fewest of the PL’s elite, while their 26 goals conceded are the most of the six sides expected to compete for four UEFA Champions League places; Liverpool, in the same number of games, have conceded just six times, including just once during their current five-game winning streak.

INJURIES: Liverpool — OUT: Joel Matip (shoulder), Joe Gomez (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Trent Alexander-Arnold (knock) | Man United — OUT: Alexis Sanchez (hamstring), Victor Lindelof (groin); QUESTIONABLE: Anthony Martial (hamstring), Scott McTominay (undisclosed), Luke Shaw (undisclosed)

Preview: Southampton v. Manchester United

Leave a comment
  • Southampton striker Danny Ings (hamstring) is ruled out while Ryan Bertrand (back) is a doubt. 
  • Man Utd’s Alexis Sanchez is missing with a hamstring injury sustained in training this week.
  • Diogo Dalot is set to make his United debut although Victor Lindelof (hamstring) is set to sit out. Luke Shaw returns after suspension.
  • Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Man Utd has won only four of its 10 PL matches against Southampton, having beaten Southampton in nine of the last 10 under the Scot.

Manchester United can get back into the top six with a win as they travel to the south coast to take on struggling Southampton.  (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Jose Mourinho has had yet another tough couple of weeks in charge, with Man United looking off the pace even with a midweek UEFA Champions League win over Young Boys. However, they face another club that’s down on its luck in Southampton, which has dropped into the relegation zone with just eight points from 13 games and no wins in seven. If Mourinho’s seat is hot at Old Trafford, it’s nothing compared to Mark Hughes at St. Mary’s Stadium.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Hughes saved Southampton a year ago but his time may be running out. Even though it’s on the road, this match for Manchester United could be a chance for Mourinho’s men to find their mojo again.

What they’re saying

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on Diego Dalot, who could make his return from injury this weekend: “Players must be ready and in this case some are going away to the medical room and others are coming back. For example, this weekend will be the first call for Dalot. He’s ready now. He had an important injury and then surgery, and then a second injury with the national team [Portugal Under-21s] when he was already playing against Young Boys and Derby County. When he was almost there, he was injured for the national team but now he’s had two weeks of training and we think he’s ready now.“

Southampton manager Mark Hughes on facing Man United: “We looked at a different thing – different in terms of formation, going back to three at the back. That will have positives in games, and sometimes there’s negatives in any formation you go with, but it was interesting to see how the guys got back to that system and they looked very, very comfortable with it. I think that’s the benefit of the work we’ve done during the summer, so very quickly they understood the fundamentals of that. I just think it gives us another string to our bow. We’ve got to be versatile, we’ve got to be flexible in terms of how we go up against teams, because every team gives you different problems.

Prediction

Southampton is in a bad run of form and even with Alexis Sanchez’s injury, Man United still has enough firepower to overcoming the Saints. Mourinho gets a brief reprieve, while Hughes’ seat grows ever hotter. Manchester United 2-0 Southampton