One point, but plenty of positives for Southampton

Posted by Chris Rann

Jose Fonte Southampton celebPA PhotosJose Fonte scored a late leveller for Southampton against Sunderland.

A superstitious man might suggest that perhaps a 'Black Cat' went down to Southampton docks and walked on and off one of the ships prior to Saints home opener on Saturday - a 1-1 draw with Sunderland.

Certainly Saints appeared down on their luck as they looked like they were heading to the most one sided (in favour of the loser) 0-1 defeat in footballing history. Saints were head and shoulders above their opponents in every area, with the exception of an early Sunderland corner where they allowed the 5'6" Emanuele Giaccherini to score a free header.

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Saints looked like they could play for days without scoring, all of their forward players struggling to beat Keiron Westwood despite a host of chances. Jay Rodriguez did have the ball in the net in early reply to Sunderland's opener, but it was ruled out for offside. Subsequent replays showed the Saints forward was level (at least in my eyes). Bad luck again? Or more hapless officiating? It was so close that people were arguing whether it was off or onside looking at a still, so we can perhaps forgive (or applaud depending on your opinion) the assistant referee on this one given he has to decide at full pace.

There were plenty of 'odd' calls from referee Lee Mason though as Saints battered their opponents without registering a knockout blow. Sunderland did create a few attacking moves of their own, but Saints fans can be thankful that Jozy Altidore is Jozy Altidore and not Stephen Fletcher. The American looked immobile and completely out of his depth against Jose Fonte and Dejan Lovren,

Saints of course did get their equaliser, albeit late considering their superiority, but I want to focus on the positives, and there were many.

1. Dominance. On another day, with a performance like that Saints will win by a distance. They will play worse than that and win.

2. Jose Fonte. Saints fans could be forgiven for thinking the Portuguese defender was finished at St. Mary's after falling down the pecking order last season, but he has looked solid in starting the first two games this season,

3. Dejan Lovren & Victor Wanyama. What a couple of signings these two are. Already looking like bargains and undoubtedly improved the starting eleven.

4. Dani Osvaldo. 45 minutes of football and the Italian has shown touches of brilliance and some of the fiery nature we were promised.

5. James Ward-Prowse. The 18-year-old was a surprise starter last weekend, and kept his place for this game. I started comparing him to Paul Scholes a while back and a few people have started to join me. Technically superb, a work horse and a methodical approach to set pieces looks like one of the first names on the team sheet now. Man of the match.


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