Shane Long

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.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

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.

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.

Second-half surge rockets Liverpool past Southampton

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Liverpool continued its unbeaten march toward Premier League glory with a 4-0 beating of Southampton on Saturday at Anfield.

The Reds open their table lead to 22 points thanks to banner days from Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Salah scored twice, Henderson collected a goal and an assist, and Roberto Firmino registered two assists. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored Liverpool’s other marker as Liverpool improved to 23 wins and one draw in league play.

Saints see their upward swing halted and finish the day 11th.


Three things we learned

1. Thirteen to go: Going unbeaten is a near-impossible task, but Liverpool is doing its level best. While the Reds again tempted fate in the first half, there was no doubt about their second half. Salah and Henderson were everywhere, and they might’ve scored seven on another day. The coronation is coming, but will the crown be spotless?

2. Henderson continues career year: There’s always been something on-field missing from Jordan Henderson, but Jurgen Klopp has taken him from capable starter to star this year. Henderson had a goal and an assist to pitch in offensively while following his (probable) orders to play a little hatchet man in the midfield. It must be a miserable afternoon dealing with “Hendo.”

3. Saints waste chances to play spoiler: Southampton’s first half was deserving of at least one goal, and the halftime whistle totally recharged the hosts. If you want to take points off this Liverpool, you have to take advantage of the rare down periods from the soon-to-be champs. Southampton did no such thing.

Man of the Match: Salah.


Oxlade-Chamberlain and Salah both handled the ball unwhistled en route to the latter’s tempting of the goal in the 20th minute.

Saints had moments, Moussa Djenepo forcing Alisson Becker into a 27th minute parry.

McCarthy made terrific saves on Virgil Van Dijk and Firmino before a penalty shout was denied the Reds.

Danny Ings carried into the box only to see a shot blocked by Joe Gomez in the 40th, with Shane Long‘s rip saved by Alisson in the 41st.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Oxlade-Chamberlain put the Reds in front two minutes into the second half and moments after a penalty shout was denied Saints. An low drive through traffic cut inside the near post made it 1-0.

Henderson made it 2-0 when he was unmarked in the box for a Firmino cutback. The ex-Sunderland man left no doubt.

Salah took advantage of a Saints error to make it 3-0, dribbling to McCarthy’s doorstep to dink into the goal. He’d make it 4-0 on the edge of stoppage time.

Premier League Preview: Liverpool v. Southampton

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Liverpool puts its unbeaten Premier League season on the line Saturday when Southampton visits Anfield (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The storyline is going to be the same each week until someone scores more goals than the Reds in a single match. They have won 23 of 24 matches and only 14 more to go.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

The next scrap comes with Saints, who have been thriving after early-season misery. Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s men have risen to ninth place, three points off fifth-place Manchester United.

Liverpool beat Saints 2-1 at St. Mary’s on Aug. 17.


Injuries/suspensions

Liverpool: OUT —  Xherdan Shaqiri, Sadio Mane, James Milner, Nathaniel Clyne. QUESTIONABLE — Adam Lallana, Divock Origi.

Southampton: OUT — Stuart Armstrong. QUESTIONABLE — Yan Valery, Jannik Vestergaard, Shane Long.


Probable lineups

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Minamino, Firmino, Salah.

Southampton: Gunn, Bertrand, Bednarek, Stephens, Danso, Boufal, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Redmond, Adams, Ings


What they’re saying

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp on Mohamed Salah’s future: “How can you see the hunger to stay at Liverpool? It looks to me like he is really settled to be honest. I have no idea, actually, but you could ask me the same question for all the others and I have no idea. I didn’t think about it until [the press] asked me.

Virgil van Dijk on leaving Southampton for Liverpool: “The decision I made has not been too bad. I’m 28 now and I want to fulfil every dream I ever had. Life can be short. Your career can be short as well. I want to enjoy every minute of it. I’m enjoying playing with this team and this manager. We can’t look too far ahead. But right now, I’m enjoying it. I don’t look at the table. You [only] need to look at the table at the end of the season.”

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl on loaning Kyle Walker-Peters“If he feels comfortable here and plays well and we feel comfortable with him and he likes to play with us, there is always an option to get him in the summer. Even if it’s not written down, there’s always an option. I always say, small flowers, you have to look after them and give them water and then they sometimes turn into beautiful flowers. This is something we try with all the young players and give them the chance to develop.”


Prediction

The Reds find a stiff test, but another 2-1 win.

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

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.

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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.