Turkish Delight!

Posted by Chris Rann

Victor Wanyama impressed for Southampton against Besiktas.GettyImagesVictor Wanyama impressed for Southampton against Besiktas.

Saints had a mixed time of it in the latest instalment of their pre-season preparations, firstly losing 0-2 to German Champions League side Schalke 04 and then beating Turkish giants Besiktas 3-1.

The defeat at the hands of Schalke showed the fans and coaching staff that there were still some issues to be addressed within the squad (notably defensive concentration) but on the whole was a decent performance from Saints with just a lack of spark up front. It led to some negative reaction from fans as to the level of quality in the squad and in some cases it was rightly so.

Though Saints dominated the first half, they couldn't find a creative spark to make anything happen in the final third, while at the back there was mix up and confusion in a game shared by backup keepers Davis and Gazzaniga. With Saints suffering last season due to their horrific start (which goalkeeping instability was very much a cause of) the fans can be expected to worry.

The highlight was the dominant performance of new boy Victor Wanyama who muscled his way to making the centre of the pitch his domain and nobody else's.

If the Schalke game was frustrating and a little scrappy, the Besiktas game was the just desserts. Saints looked tidy throughout, though fell behind to a wonder strike from Muhammed Demirci and with nothing going their way up front it was beginning to look like a repeat of their first Austrian encounter. What was abundantly clear though was that with number one Artur Boruc back in the net, the Saints' back four looked calmer and in control with Boruc himself producing a couple of wonder saves (sounds familiar huh?).

Saints fears about forward play were soon put to bed. Not long after Saints fans were claiming that 'we have no one who can produce something like that (Demirci)' Rickie Lambert rammed it down their throats. Amongst a crowd of defenders Lambert controlled a Cork cross on his chest and smashed home from 12 yards, a fine goal from the striker who was unbelievably questioned by some fans over the last couple of weeks.

And this was just the start. Saints fans only had to wait another three minutes for their second instalment of great finishes, Emmanuel Mayuka opening his Saints account by blasting a ball over the top on the half volley from 18 yards into the back of the net.

Saints looked rampant and finished the game off with a deserved goal for youngster Lloyd Isgrove. The attacking midfielder has looked impressive in every pre-season game and produced a difficult finish from Luke Shaw's cut back to end the Austrian tour on a high note for Saints.

It was an impressive performance all round from Saints, with a notable first half shift from the much maligned Guly do Prado. The Brazilian striker was acting as playmaker, coming deep to get the ball and making things happen.

Saints looked a fitter outfit than their Turkish opponents, reward for the hard work that they did in Spain and the efforts of the coaching staff. On to the next one.

Keep the faith.


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