Saints bounce back

Posted by Chris Rann

As is usually the case after an impressive Saints win, the national institution that is England's weekly highlights package chose to focus on something else about the game, in this case Malky Mackay and his relationship with Cardiff owner Vincent Tan on what turned out to be the eve of Mackay's sacking.

Make no mistake, off-the-field issues, or no off-the-field issues, with Southampton playing like that Thursday, Cardiff City were dead and buried either way. Saints were fantastic in their 3-0 win, going through the Cardiff defence at will like a hot knife through the butter from the Christmas spread.

Saints dominated proceedings from start to finish, and with Paulo Gazzaniga seemingly having shaken off his confidence issues, looking solid in goal, the result was never in doubt.

Adam Lallana ran the show, and with Jay Rodriguez on hand to finish off his and Rickie Lambert's handywork, it looked for a period like Cardiff were going to end Boxing Day on the end of battering. Lambert, as he so often does, responded to recent criticism of his performances by joining in the fun, with a brilliant pass for Rodriguez' second before converting himself and putting the match out of reach.

This was exactly the response Saints needed after a run of poor performances, and with Everton up next on Sunday having just lost their home unbeaten streak, perhaps the near future isn't so bleak after all. With injured players soon to return hopefully, Saints can start picking up regular points again and show just why they were being suggested for a European challenge.

It will be interesting to see how the club respond to the recent run in the January transfer window. Most fans would have them strengthen, especially in defence, but Mauricio Pochettino perhaps has more confidence in his backups.

Saints' England trio will have yet again done their chances of a World Cup berth no harm at all, and in Luke Shaw's performance when the next squad is announced I would expect three to become four. With Ashley Cole struggling for form and games and Leighton Baines injured, Shaw is currently the best left back in the Premier League, certainly the best English one. Thursday he was outstanding again and he is ready now.

It's funny how football can change opinions in a week (myself included). After the defeat to Spurs, some Saints fans would have you believe that Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert weren't good enough for Saints. Thursday they were back to being good enough for England.

Keep the faith.

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