15/08/2015: Saints 0-3 Everton
Saints suffered a very disappointing home defeat at St Mary's, going down 3-0 to an impressive Everton side. The hosts were overrun for much of the first-half, and by the time alterations had been made in the second it was already too late.
Ronald Koeman - making his return to the touchline - surprisingly started with almost exactly the same team and setup used at Newcastle last week. Shane Long came in on the left for Jay Rodriguez, but that was the only change. Saints were overmatched in midfield by Everton for much of the first half, as they were at Newcastle last week. The only difference was The Toffees were much more clinical going forward and disciplined enough at the back to keep Saints at bay once they went ahead.
Saints did make a reasonable start to the game. Sadio Mane shot wide of the near post on 12. Matt Targett then had a shot saved by Tim Howard. The Everton keeper saved well with his legs from Mane on 21. Everton's opener came from the resulting break. Arouna Kone ran down the right before dinking the ball into the edge of the six yard box. Romelu Lukaku leaped above the Saints defence to head in.
Saints struggled to get hold of the ball after going behind. Everton played through the middle with quick interchanges and also found space out wide. Tom Cleverley missed an absolute sitter on 29, meekly shooting wide after Maarten Stekelenburg had saved from Ross Barkley. Saints had a rare chance from a corner on 35, with Victor Wanyama heading over. Everton were very much in control going into the break, and gave themselves a bit more of a cushion just before stoppage time. Barkley played in Lukaku through the middle, with the Belgian striker calmly finishing with one touch on the edge of the box.
Koeman made a much needed change at half-time, with Oriol Romeu coming on for Dusan Tadic. Romeu sat in midfield alongside Wanyama, with Steven Davis moving slightly further forward. Saints instantly got to grips with the ball, and initially edged the possession stakes. Graziano Pelle struck a half-volley at Howard on 53. The Italian had another opportunity later in the half from a corner. The chances soon dried up however, with Everton gradually regaining control of the game. Mane's speculative effort almost caught out Howard, but the American goalkeeper managed to pull off a great save. Saints continued to huff and puff before the away side made sure of the points on 84. Barkley found himself with far too much space on the left of the penalty area. The midfielder steadied himself before curling into the corner of the net. Jay Rodriguez's last minute wayward effort pretty much summed up Saints' day.
Another worrying performance. There was so much wrong with Saints' play. It's puzzling that Koeman would elect to stick with the same system that was so ineffective for a good two thirds of the previous game at Newcastle. Everton had it easy against Saints' lightweight midfield. Defensively the home side were all over the place. The back four and the keeper were all guilty of making individual errors, although they weren't always afforded the best protection from the players in front of them. Going forward Saints did create a few good chances, but at times it was a bit pedestrian. On this evidence there's still major work to be done both on the training ground and in the transfer market.
Stekelenburg: 5. Made a couple of decent saves, but looked unconvincing for much of the game
Cedric: 5. Defensively weak. Got caught napping a few times. A couple of solid bits of link-up play in the attacking half, but not really enough
Fonte: 6. The best player in the back four, which wasn't saying much
Yoshida: 5. Made a couple of very good interceptions, but given the runaround by Lukaku and co on other occasions and panicked in possession
Targett: 5. Early booking for a needless foul early on set the tone. Looked very shaky throughout the first half, but did improve slightly later in the game, offering support in attack
Davis: 5. Involved in a couple of good attacking moves early on, but faded quickly. Unable to offer much of a presence in the middle of the park
Wanyama: 6. A few good bursts forward, but not quite at his best
Tadic: 5. Deliver mostly disappointing. Failed to add any real spark to Saints' attack before coming off at half-time
Long: 5. Struggled to get involved in the game
Mane: 6. A few sublime moments of skill, but too often found himself outnumbered
Pelle: 6. Looked fairly sharp in front of goal, but wasn't afforded the service he should have been
Romeu: 6. One of the few positives for Saints. Added a bit more balance to the midfield and passed the ball quickly and accurately
Rodriguez: 5. Made little impact
Ward-Prowse: Whipped in a few corners, but the game was already out of sight by the time he came on
Everton: Lukaku (22, 44) Barkley (84)
Attendance: 30,966 (2,615 Everton fans)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Saints line-up: Stekelenburg, Cedric, Fonte, Yoshida, Targett, S Davis (Ward-Prowse 79), Wanyama, Tadic (Romeu 46), Long (Rodriguez 71), Mane, Pelle
Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Martina, Reed, Juanmi
Everton line-up: Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Galloway (Browning 88), McCarthy, Barry, Barkley, Cleverley, Kone (Naismith 79), Lukaku (Deulofeu 88)
Subs not used: Robles, Besic, Osman, Mirallas