Saints wide of the mark at Goodison

Posted by Chris Rann

The problem with taking an early lead is it dramatically enhances expectation. Before kick-off on Saturday I would have been extremely happy to get a point at Everton, but in reality I expected a defeat. Therefore, Gaston Ramirez' sixth minute opener only served to magnify my sense of disappointment to walk away with nothing, which is exactly how it turned out: a crushing 3-1 defeat.

I don't think Saints played that badly if I'm honest, but Everton were very good, particularly for the fifteen first half minutes where they turned our lead into a distant memory and it seemed like we might have another Arsenal-style capitulation.

Tactically, I think we got it all wrong. I said before the game that the midfield would be key, and when I saw that Morgan Schneiderlin was missing, I became worried. The Frenchman has slowly and quietly become a key member of our team and his ability to break up play was much needed as the experienced Toffees' central pairing of Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini ran the show.

Missing personnel wasn't the only issue though. Playing in a diamond made Southampton far too narrow, and while I like the fact that Nigel Adkins says he will always attack, sometimes, like when going to the home of an in-form team, caution might be wise. We have no problems going forward, that much is clear, but there is only so long we can defend our attacking principles while we are shipping three or four goals a game. Defensively we weren't great again; aside from Maya Yoshida, we looked poor.

It might have been different of course, Jay Rodriguez was selected in front of Jason Puncheon, a strange choice as I saw it, and it was he who missed a simple enough scoring chance while it was still 1-0. I'm not saying that would have changed the result -- once Everton got going, they were irresistibly good -- but we weren't that far behind in terms of quality.

Every time we lose I find myself saying that it was another lesson learned. Yet now, I am starting to wonder if we are actually learning anything? We might paper over the cracks with another convincing home performance against Fulham next week, but clearly there are issues both tactically and defensively.

If you live by the sword you'll die by the sword, and in the Premier League we need to be able to adapt our style when we need a little substance. I expect a reaction against Fulham and I am sure Adkins will get it, but then we need to string some results together. 0-0 draw anyone?

Keep the Faith.

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