Southampton 1 (Broja 53)
Leeds United 0
Our performance today shocked me, I can’t hide my disappointment. Yes, I knew it would be a tough game, far tougher than many were suggesting who were just focussing on the fact that Southampton were yet to win a game this season. I knew that the Saints had been handed a particularly tough set of fixtures to start this season and, actually, they’d turned in some pretty admirable results – draws against Man United, Man City and West Ham amongst others. But this defeat was more about our second string players not stepping up to the plate than anything else.
Out task today was not made any easier by losing both Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha through injury and international duties respectively, and that came on top of the continued absences of Patrick Bamford, Luke Ayling and Robin Koch, but I still maintain that, had the XI we sent out today played to their potential, then we should have had more than enough to at least claim a point from St Mary’s.
The problem is that too many players, I’m almost tempted to say all of them actually, played well below what they are capable of and certainly well below what is necessary in the Premier League. Tyler Roberts is, admittedly, a second string player and I think we’ve all seen enough to know now that after well over 90 appearances, he’s not good enough at this level. But we also saw shocking performances from players who’d we expect to be better. Stuart Dallas continues to play a million miles below what we grew used to seeing from him last season and he must surely still have something on his mind that is deeply affecting his performances. Rodrigo is a Spanish international forward but today looked completely ineffective and was hardly involved in the game at all. The same goes for Matty Klich too. Our two wide players – Dan James and Jack Harrison saw plenty of ball and yet their impact on the game was also minimal with a distinct lack of a decent final ball all afternoon.
In general, the defence did ok and we seldom looked in much trouble despite the overwhelming balance of goal attempts coming from the home side. Sure, Pascal Struijk is no Kalvin Phillips, but he did well enough as did Coops and Llorente in the middle of the back four and Jamie Shackleton. Illan Meslier was assured enough too but the problems were all in the middle and up front.
Southampton too were missing influential players – James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams in particular – and that ought to have been enough to even the game up; it didn’t though. Leeds were so poor in the front two thirds of the pitch that we allowed a weak Southampton side to out-work us; they pressed like we used to do and they seemed to have a yard of pace more than any Leeds player. They were no better than we were but they seemed to be working harder and faster and second balls invariably went to the home side.
It was, all in all, a worrying display from Leeds and we can only hope that a rapid return for Kalvin Phillips, Raphinha and Patrick Bamford will shake off this slump we found ourselves in today. Watford’s thumping at home to Liverpool also serves to perhaps take the edge off that one win we did achieve before the break. Leeds looked better in that game but it’s now tempting now to suggest that was against a very poor Watford side.
However you look at it, these are now, at the least, worrying times for Leeds; we need our best XI out on the pitch as soon as humanly possible or this early season sluggishness could soon turn into a desperate struggle for points.
Southampton Leeds Utd
Possession 45% 55%
Shots 19 3
On Target 5 0
Corners 8 1
Fouls Committed 16 14