23/08/2015: Watford 0-0 Saints
Saints' wait for a Premier League win goes on following a stalemate at Vicarage Road. Once again Ronald Koeman's side started slowly. The team had control of the action for much of the second-half, but still lacked that cutting edge in the final third.
Koeman started with a fairly conservative line-up. Steven Caulker, Jose Fonte and Maya Yoshida started in a back-three, with Victor Wanyama and Oriol Romeu offering further support. Steven Davis played a bit further up, with Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle up front.
The first 15 minutes of the game was quite scrappy, with both teams battling for the ball in the middle of the park. Saints' movement was far too static. Watford in contrast were quite sharp on the ball. It took quite a while for any major chances to arrive. On 17 Mane made a good run down the right from Romeu's pass, but his low cross to Pelle was cut-out.
Saints briefly upped the tempo before a series of stoppages. Mane was eventually forced off with a concussion after colliding with the keeper. His replacement Shane Long went on a good run before shooting low at Heurelho Gomes. On 34 Pelle headed harmlessly wide. Caulker headed straight at Gomes from a corner. At the other end Odion Ighalo couldn't quite get on the end of Ikechi Anya's dangerous cross.
Saints passed the ball quicker during the second-half, and dominated possession for most of the 45. Caulker did well to block an early shot from Troy Deeney. Gomes then tipped over from Pelle, after Davis had played him in.
Saints played ok in fits and starts. Cedric dragged the ball wide of the near post after cutting inside on the right-flank. Etienne Capoue had the best chance of the game on 66, heading over from a corner. Wanyama's 73rd minute low shot looked as if it could trouble Gomes, but the Brazilian was equal to the danger. Cedric then blasted over from a volley. Pelle shot well over on the turn, before Long shot straight at the keeper when he had better options available. Caulker had the last major chance, heading straight at the keeper from the free-kick. In the end, 0-0 was about right.
As on Thursday, Saints' performance was slightly better, but still someway off the standard set over the previous two seasons. Defensively there were a few individual errors, but overall the team performed well as a unit. Attacking wise it was still not quite clicking. There was very little inventiveness and creativity going forward. Saints did quicken the pace in the second-half, but there was still far too much straight-line running. At times it felt as if the team hadn't trained together at all. A point away from home is ok, but there's still a lot of work to be done.
Stekelenburg: 6. Didn't have an awful lot to do
Caulker: 6. Sloppy on the ball early on. Given great licence to break forward than the other two centre-backs
Fonte: 7. Some great last ditch challenges. Didn't let much get past him
Yoshida: 7. A decent outing. Composed on the ball for the most part, and sharp in the tackle
Cedric: 6. Gave the ball away a few times in the first half, and didn't offer enough going forward initially. More effective in this department after the break
Targett: 6. Got beaten once or twice by his man, but overall reasonably steady
Romeu: 7. Added some stiff tackles to his game. Made a few mistakes, but passing generally good
Wanyama: 6. A mixed afternoon. Great range of passing early on, but some sloppy stuff elsewhere
Davis: 6. Passing up and down. Didn't really give the team enough going forward
Mane: 5. Made a couple of good runs before coming off injured
Pelle: 6. Didn't get great supply, but still involved in a few good chances
Long: 5. Lively for a brief period immediately after coming on, but final product mostly awful
Ward-Prowse: 5. Unable to assert himself on the game
Rodriguez: Saw very little of the ball
Attendance: 20,166 (1,938 Saints fans)
Referee: Andre Marriner
Watford line-up: Gomes, Nyom, Prodl, Cathcart, Holebas (Diamanti 46), Capoue, Behrami (Watson 86), Anya, Ighalo, Jurado, Deeney
Subs not used: Arlauskis, Britos, Abdi, Layun, Forestieri
Saints line-up: Stekelenburg, Yoshida, Caulker, Fonte, Yoshida, Cedric, Targett, Wanyama, Romeu, S Davis (Ward-Prowse 72), Mane (Long 25), Pelle (Rodriguez 79)
Subs not used: K Davis, Martina, Tadic, Juanmi