Match Review – Brighton 1-1 Southampton

southamptonhomereview2017

Halloween weekend 2009 years ago was the end of Russell Slade’s reign as Brighton manager, a 3-3 home draw with Hartlepool United doing for the man who looked like a boiled egg. Fast forward eight years and here we were with plenty of Albion fans complaining about a draw with Southampton, a side who have become a staple feature of the Premier League’s top 10.

Yes, it was a case of After the Lord Mayor’s Show following that performance against West Ham United last week, but anyone who thinks we are going to roll teams over like that in every game should seek psychiatric help – especially as Southampton were never going to be as tactically inept or woeful defensively as the Hammers were. We’d be very surprised to come up against a side as West Ham were last week again this season.

So Sunday was, to all intents and purposes, pretty boring but that is something we are going to have to get used to. Five points separates relegation and Europe currently, an indicator of how evenly matched the sides outside of the big six are in the Premier League. Being so evenly matched in such a clogged up table means that avoiding dropping points becomes nearly as important as winning them, as we saw at the Amex when both managers could’ve effectively shaken hands on the draw once Glenn Murray had equalised, such was their determination to not lose the game.

Want some stats? Of course you do, and even if you don’t, you are getting them anyway. Both teams combined managed a grand total of 26 touches inside the opposition box. There were three shots on target, Southampton scoring with there only one and us apparently missing one which can’t have been that memorable as it is difficult to recall either Maty Ryan or Fraser Forster making a save of note.

The Saints goal came as a result of the games one moment of brilliance, James Ward-Prowse’s excellent free kick beating Ryan but not that bar. Unfortunately, the lose ball fell straight to Steven Davis who knocked it into the empty net with the first shot of the game.

Forster should have done better with Murray’s header, appearing to get a hand to it after it had crossed the line and failing to do enough to keep it out. Pascal Gross claimed yet another assist with a beautifully hung up cross, meaning that only David Silva and Kevin Du Bruyne have set up more goals than him this season. At £3m, he looks like one of the signings of the summer and although the recruitment team may have got plenty of stick for their failure to sign a striker, his arrival puts them well in credit.

The highlight of the game other than the two goals was Shane Duffy showing exactly why he is a centre back when his attempt at a thumping volley flew out for a throw. Of the five subs made by both teams, four of them arrived after the 84th minute – hardly proactive stuff from either Chris Hughton or Manuel Pellegrino in terms of trying to win the game.

But there were certainly more positives than negatives. Another strong defensive showing and a point on the board before a tricky run of fixtures against sides we shouldn’t really expect anything from. There are two eminently winnable games coming up before Manchester United, Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea all crop up inside of one of calendar month. Come the end of December, we’ll have a better idea of where we stand but right now, things look promising – to the point where a draw with Southampton is considered a bad result. Blimey.

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