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  • Sun, 28 Jun 2020 17:54:44 +0000: Watford 1-3 Southampton: Premier League – as it happened - Southampton | The Guardian

    Two goals from Danny Ings and a great free-kick from James Ward-Prowse plunged Watford deep into relegation trouble

    To close out, a reflective but exasperated Nigel Pearson.

    We were second-best for too long. The second half, we started brightly. You can’t concede gifts to the opponents. We need to show a cohesion. To concede at that time, we gave ourselves too much to do. It’s about us approaching games. The players aren’t happy themselves about performances. We faced opponents who were efficient. You can’t forget it, you draw a line on it. We have games in which in our own hands to assure our future in the Premier League.

    Here’s Jacob Steinberg’s report from Vicarage Road

    Related: Danny Ings' double for Southampton leaves Watford in deep trouble

    Danny Ings speaks.

    It was a physical battle. We really fought well for the second balls . It was nice, I love cutting in from the left. It was little bit of a gift, aimed it to the far corner and it went in. It was important we came here and did something. Our centre-halves were unbelievable in the air. [Golden boot] To be honest, no, I just want to play each game and score goals for the team. My focus is just on trying to score some more.

    Watford deep in trouble by the looks of this.

    Watford are deep in trouble and lucky that everyone else around them is also playing like a drain. Southampton were excellent in all areas and two-goal Danny Ings was deadly. A superb free-kick from James Ward-Prowse capped it all off just when when Watford thought they had a foothold.

    90+2 min: Watford mount some attacking and then there’s a nasty collision between Deeney and Ings. Both men get up, and Watford have a corner. That’s cleared by a Saints defence that’s excelled aside from Bednarek’s OG, and that was one of those where he couldn’t actually do anything else.

    90 min: Five minutes added and only Southampton appear capable of adding to their total.

    89 min: Che Adams burst through, blazing past Dawson and looked on to score his first ever goal for Southampton, only for the ball to come off Foster’s leg and away. That’s followed up by Nathan Redmond rattling the post. Watford torn asunder.

    86 min: That 9-0 loss to Leicester seems a long time ago for Southampton. Credit due to Saints for keeping the faith, and contrast that with Watford being on their third manager. The momentum Nigel Pearson built up on his arrival is lost on this evidence.

    85 min: This has been smash and grab from Southampton. Each of their goals has been expertly executed. Their quality has been far too high for Watford.

    83 min: There is another thunderstorm brewing and it’s called Nigel Pearson, defining the term ‘face like thunder’.

    There is a thunderstorm brewing, and James Ward-Prowse has the chance to reopen the two-goal lead. In David Beckham style he whips it up, over and into the net. Watford’s comeback lasted less than 180 seconds.

    Holebas’ cross from the wing came in and Welbeck was ready to score. Bednarek stepped across him only to direct the ball into his own net. Game on.

    78 min: Another injury. Stuart Armstrong has been hurt. While he is attended to, a final Watford change. Femenia off, and young Argentinian Pussetto on.

    76 min: Watford, flush with those changes, try to push on for victory but all that results in is another dangerous Southampton attack. Welbeck has to come all the way back to clear the danger. There was a melee in the Saints box where Walker-Peters looked to have committed an offence but VAR waves that away.

    74 min: Saints change; off goes Shane Long, on comes Che Adams.

    73 min: Triple change: Welbeck, Joao Pedro and Holebas on, Masina, Hughes and Pereyra off. They have a mountain to climb.

    72 min: Nigel Pearson, perhaps aware the camera is on him, is trying his best to look calm but his blood must be boiling at the way his team have let him down. They have worked hard but been guilty of two disastrous mistakes.

    71 min: Danny Ings is just a goal behind Jamie Vardy in the Premier League scoring charts. And he looks red hot at the moment. Two glimmers, two goals. And he’s got time for a hat-trick yet.

    Straight from the drinks and Ben Foster makes a terrible mistake, launching the ball straight at Danny Ings, who burrows towards goal and smashes. Another fine goal from him, more horrendous defending from Watford.

    67 min: Southampton have not been great in midfield or attack this half. They are relying too heavily on their defence. And they will be glad of the second-half water break.

    65 min: Saints sub: off comes Smallbone who did well in the first 45 for Stuart Armstrong.

    64 min: Sarr is wasteful this time. Howls of anguish from his teammates, including most loudly Troy Deeney.

    62 min: More Watford pressure and two more corners. Saints are holding up well, back in numbers. Hasenhuttl is doing the organising from his technical area.

    61 min: Watford corner earned by the ever more prominent Pereyra. The ball comes to Hughes who volleys into a crowd of players. Deeney couldn’t find space for a shot. Then Doucoure has a shot. It flies off for a throw. Deeney is not amused once more.

    59 min: Nigel Pearson yet to make a sub. His option are sat in the Vicarage Road stand at the moment, none of them warming up. His first XI are pushing on but with not much quality.

    56 min: Watford really pushing on, with Will Hughes to the fore. Southampton are sticking to their task, and Walker-Peters intervenes to concede a corner that Pereyra makes a mess of.

    53 min: Troy Deeney is not amused. Bednar and Vestergaard have dished it out to him and he’s found it hard to dish much back.

    52 min: Southampton find a bid of attacking impetus. Hasenhuttl is doing more talking already this half, perhaps recognising the signs of Watford’s improvement.

    50 min: Danny Welbeck warms up as Sarr is attended to but the Senegalese forward will be ok to continue, though with something of a limp.

    48 min: Correction, that was a goal kick rather than corner. But Watford push on again before Sarr collapses under a heavy tackle from Bertrand. Saints play on and Ings aims at the back stick but Long fails to get there.

    46 min: Watford start with purpose as if their manager might have said something at half-time. Pereyra takes a free-kick from the right. It comes out to Sarr who his shot blocked. Pereyra and Femenia have crosses blocked. Troy Deeney forces a corner.

    We are back and Nigel Pearson was one of the last to the dugout.

    JR in Illinois reports in: “The quieter Nigel Pearson is the scarier he seems to be, and right now he’s looking scary AF. He’s going to want to fight someone at halftime. And he will win that fight. Newcastle should buy Smallbone and put him in midfield with the Longstaff brothers to give them some balance.”

    Poor from Watford, and very good from Saints. Watford have been unable to put anything together as Southampton have smothered them. Danny Ings supplied the sole moment of class for the goal.

    45+3 min: A few heads shaking from Watford players. They should be further behind on the balance of play though their defenders, aside from the goal, have done their job well enough.

    45+2 min: Masina defends a cross well but has to concede a corner to do so. Saints again fail to make much of the dead ball.

    45 min: Four minutes added on to a half of plenty of stoppages.

    44 min: Troy Deeney is breathing heavily with fatigue and exasperation. It’s muggy out there. And Southampton have done a number on Watford.

    43 min: Shane Long and Craig Cathcart clash, and there’s a rude word spoken. Long did not like his treatment by the Northern Irishman.

    42 min: Sarr continues to be the danger man but decides to try and get a penalty from the referee rather than beating Ryan Bertrand to the byline. Watford’s thinking in attacking situations has not been too good.

    40 min: Smallbone, who has been impressive, plays an elegant ball to the left as Saints turn the screw on Watford, who have been poor and look to be hanging on until half-time.

    39 min: Troy Deeney is down after Vestergaard smashed into the back of him. He gets back up to help defend a free-kick, taken of course by Ward-Prowse but Ben Foster claims well.

    37 min: Ward-Prowse the latest in the wars, having been banged in the face. Romeu had to go off and come back on again with his bloody nose.

    36 min: Watford have looked like a team missing something, namely perhaps the three wallies who attended a party against the regulations. They are also without Gerard Deulofeu of course.

    34 min: This has been a feature of pandemic football, a lot of injuries and Oriol Romeu is the latest, having taken a bang to the head off Sarr. Looks like he took a nasty bang to the nose.

    32 min: Long is back up but down soon enough as he gets clattered by Dawson, who is then booked for what was cynical foul even if he tried to make it look clumsy. Ward-Prowse’s free-kick is inventive but no danger for Foster.

    30 min: Shane Long is down, with hands over his eyes. And there’s not much movement until he tries to haul himself up. He does so in some pain. He’s not one to cod, and it seems has been inadvertently hurt by teammate Smallbone. There’s a gag in there somewhere but let’s proceed instead with the news that the physio says Long should be OK to continue.

    27 min: The lads are replenished and they have received their terse team talks from their managers. Nigel Pearson simmered rather than exploded.

    24 min: There’s a water break on and James Ward-Prowse will spend it thinking about the golden chance he just wasted.

    22 min: Point of order from Rod Wooden: “No John, Kenny McLean of Norwich looks more like Jimmy Nail. Kenny is better looking though.”

    I saw Jimmy Nail saunter past Guardian HQ in a nice Crombie jacket a year ago or so. Think he had been in the posh theatre downstairs. He’s in good nick for someone of 66.

    21 min: Deeney and Doucoure get in a tangle when the striker had the better chance of getting a shot in on goal.

    20 min: Saints seem happy to hit their two very quick forwards as soon as possible and it’s Smallbone always looking to play the pass, in the style of David Batty at Blackburn all thosee years ago.

    19 min: Smallbone might get an assist for that goal but it was all Ings’ own work.

    17 min: Watford paid for sitting off Ings. It’s time to listen to the game without crowd noise to hear how Nigel Pearson accepts that blow. The mic has suspiciously been removed from his vicinity.

    Ings gets his 20th the of the season. He made it all himself with a typical run, head down and only lifted once he has drilled it past Foster. Great goal from one of the players of the season.

    15 min: Shane Long finds himself in space, and has the time to take the ball down. The shot, though, is straight at Ben Foster.

    14 min: Watford getting into this now. Though pushing on does leave them open to the speed of Southampton’s attacks.

    12 min: A Watford attack and it’s no surprise to see Sarr being the danger. Pereyra plays a beautiful ball through and Sarr escapes to the byline. His pass into the centre finds no takers.

    10 min: Southampton do not exactly rush a goal kick but it’s still them on the offensive. Smallbone again involved as Capoue is downed. The youngster looks game.

    8 min: Nigel Pearson staging an alpha male masterclass in arm crossing and gurning as his team continue to be on the back foot. Southampton have been at it.

    7 min: With cap on, Ralph Hasenhuttl has the look of Jimmy Nail.

    6 min: Walker-Peters tries to get Danny Ings off down the channels as Southampton begin to step forward and high, pushing Watford back as they do.

    4 min: Southampton not exactly playing at full pelt. In fact, they start the game passing it around the back. Some early involvement for Smallbone but Watford win a free-kick.

    2 min: Can this game start with a bit more vigour than many of the lockdown matches? It’s started tepidly in truth.

    1 min: Touchline sartorial watch. Nigel Pearson has his arms crossed over a gilet while Ralf Hasenhuttl is in a cap, meaning it is difficult to recognise him without his flyaway mane.

    Away we go: the whistle goes and the players take a knee before the game begins.

    OK, the teams are out and the fake crowd is in raptures.

    Here’s our story on Gray et al.

    Related: Andre Gray one of three Watford players dropped after hosting lockdown party

    Nigel Pearson is not giving much away: “I think we have already confirmed we have taken players out of the squad for health and safety reasons....We need to get a response after Thursday’s game. If we are anywhere near our best we have a chance of picking up points. Against Leicteer we were very good, against Burnley not so good. We are going to need everybody. Selections are always about picking the right side for any given day.

    Troy Deeney continues to be such an impressive advocate for the BLM cause.

    Related: Troy Deeney urges social media firms and government to tackle racism

    And a second Premier League start for Will Smallbone, the 20-year-old midfielder, for Southampton. He came on as a late sub against Norwich in Saints’ last outing.

    Ben Fisher had this to say about him when he played against Aston Villa in February.

    Arguably the biggest boon from Southampton’s win over Aston Villa was the performance of Will Smallbone on his league debut. The midfielder, who turned 20 on Friday, was assured, unfazed and quietly knitted things together for a dominant Southampton side, delicately shifting possession and almost opening the scoring when he hit a post....Smallbone, who joined Southampton as an eight-year-old, was the academy graduate on the lips of supporters at the final whistle. “I knew before this season that he would play a few Premier League games, that was clear,” said his manager, Ralph Hasenhüttl. “It’s good for him and for every young player at the club. If they are good enough we won’t be scared to let them play. This must be our way for the future.”

    What does that all mean? Andre Gray has been alleged to have hosted a party that a couple of his teammates attended. And that would explain why they have been left out. Let’s see what Nigel Pearson has to say about all that.

    Watford: Foster, Femenia, Dawson, Cathcart, Masina, Hughes, Capoue, Sarr, Doucoure, Pereyra, Deeney.

    Subs: Gomes, Mariappa, Cleverley, Welbeck, Joao Pedro, Holebas, Kabasele, Pussetto, Penaranda.

    Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Smallbone, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Redmond, Long, Ings.

    Subs: Adams, Armstrong, Obafemi, Gunn, Vokins, Danso, Valery,
    Tella, Jankewitz.

    Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

    TEAM NEWS

    Andre Gray, Nathaniel Chalobah and Domingos Quina have all been omitted from the squad by Nigel Pearson to ensure the health & safety of all players, staff and officials at today’s game.#WATSOU pic.twitter.com/OfDqbM9yeN

    TEAM NEWS

    How #SaintsFC will line-up against #WatfordFC: pic.twitter.com/lfqjoPKWwb

    Watford are just a point above the relegation zone, a point gained from Leicester on their return to action. They are perhaps lucky that most of those teams at the bottom have done little to save themselves since the Premier League returned in hermetically sealed form. The likes of Norwich, Aston Villa, Bournemouth and West Ham would seem to have nothing like the momentum Graham Potter has brought from Brighton. With Chelsea to come next week, and Manchester City also to play in their remaining fixtures - plus Arsenal, who Southampton managed to lose to last week. In truth, Saints have little to play for - they are ten points clear of the bottom three - and Ralph Hasenhüttl likes to have time with his players so they may not be a top speed. So, this counts as a must-win game for Watford, and Nigel Pearson, who hasn’t had hair this long since he was captaining Sheffield Wednesday, must fancy this one as three points on the board.

    Kick-off 4.30pm UK time. And it’s live.

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  • Sun, 28 Jun 2020 17:42:09 +0000: Danny Ings' double for Southampton leaves Watford in deep trouble - Southampton | The Guardian

    It was not hard to spot the team fighting against relegation. While Southampton cruised to another straightforward victory on the road thanks to a finishing masterclass from Danny Ings, Watford were choked by fear and wasted another opportunity to haul themselves away from the bottom three.

    Southampton were good value for their second consecutive away win, secured thanks to a sharp double from Ings and a trademark free-kick from James Ward-Prowse. The anxiety weighed heavily on Watford, who remain a point above 18th-placed Bournemouth, and defeat was not a good look given that Nigel Pearson had to drop three players following an alleged lockdown breach involving Nathaniel Chalobah and Domingos Quina reportedly attending a party hosted by Andre Gray. “Until I know all the facts I am not making any further comment on that situation,” Pearson said.

    Related: Andre Gray one of three Watford players dropped after lockdown party

    Related: Ross Barkley sweeps Chelsea into FA Cup last four as Leicester stumble again

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  • Thu, 25 Jun 2020 20:19:32 +0000: Mikel Arteta praises Arsenal resolve after 'two difficult weeks' since restart - Southampton | The Guardian
    • Arteta: ‘I could see the reaction was really positive’
    • Arsenal win at Southampton after defeats by City and Brighton

    Mikel Arteta acknowledged Arsenal have endured “two difficult weeks” after securing his first away win in the Premier League with a 2-0 victory at Southampton.

    Goals from Eddie Nketiah and a first Premier League goal for his fellow academy graduate Joe Willock ensured Arsenal moved back into the top half of the table with seven matches still remaining, having lost their first two matches after the restart to Manchester City and Brighton. Arteta admitted that he was relieved to end that poor sequence and praised his players for their reaction.

    Related: Young guns Willock and Nketiah lead Arsenal to win over Southampton

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  • Thu, 25 Jun 2020 19:09:32 +0000: Young guns Willock and Nketiah lead Arsenal to win over Southampton - Southampton | The Guardian

    In the stand, Mesut Özil gazed on under a parasol. Somewhere in London, Matteo Guendouzi pondered the error of his ways. One win will not answer the questions, many of them regarding fundamental aspects of the club’s operation, that hang over Arsenal but this was a well-earned day in the sun against a below-par Southampton and means they remain on the tail of the European spots. It was not without a significant slice of fortune but, in the circumstances, the victory’s architects could hardly have been more timely.

    Related: Mikel Arteta praises Arsenal resolve after 'two difficult weeks' since restart

    Related: Burnley deepen Watford's relegation worries through Jay Rodriguez header

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  • Thu, 25 Jun 2020 19:06:01 +0000: Southampton 0-2 Arsenal: Premier League – as it happened - Southampton | The Guardian

    Eddie Nketiah pounced on Alex McCarthy’s mistake to open the scoring, before Joe Willock sealed a welcome win for Mikel Arteta’s side

    Related: Young guns Willock and Nketiah lead Arsenal to win over Southampton

    “It was a very good important three points. We knew we had roll our sleeves up and really fight for the three points ... It was difficult ... They came out really strong in the second half but the boys worked really hard in the heat.”

    About his goal, he says: “We work a lot on our high press and I think we did it really well today. I just kept following in. I’ve done that about 100 times so it’s nice that one of them led to a goal.”

    Arsenal climb into the top half thanks with a performance that will encourage Mikel Arteta. Granted, Southampton were lacklustre and goofed badly for both goals, but Arsenal showed qualities that they have lacked all too often in recent years: solidity, discipline and method. And young players such as Saka, Nketiah, Holding (OK, youngish) and Willock confirmed that the club has lots of promise coming through. Far harder tests await but this suggested that some players are listening to Arteta, who omitted Guendouzi from the squad for attitude reasons.

    90+5 min: Elegant cross from the left by Saka. Lacazette darts in to meet it but glances his header wide from seven yards.

    90+4 min: Sky’s Alan Smith has named Rob Holding as man of the match. It’s a good decision, as the centreback has typified Arsenal’s no-nonsense defending. He can forget about a new contract. Honk!

    90+3 min: Aubemeyang wraps his foot around a shot from 20 yards. McCarthy saves comfortably.

    Southampton substitution: Romeu and Vestergaard on, Ings and Hojbjerg off. is that the Dane’s last appearance for Southampton?

    From just inside the D, Lacazette curled the freekcik into the wall. It rebounds back to him and he fires a low hard shot through the human barrier this time. McCarthy spills it ... and Willock follows up to ram in his first league goal for Arsenal!

    RED CARD! Stephens is sent straight off for accidentally taking down Aubameyang as the striker sprinted on to a loose back pass (by Ings, I think). The deffener made an seemingly honest attempt for the ball but he didn’t get enough on it and took down Aubemeyang. Another self-inflicted setback by the Saints.

    84 min: Southampton continue to have most of the ball but they can’t pick a way through Arsenal, who have defended well.

    81 min: Xhaka, who has played well today, mislays a pass as he tries to orchestrate a counter-attack.

    Arsenal substitutions: Lacazette and Maitland-Niles on, Nketiah and Ceballos off.

    78 min: Stephens produces a splendid pass from the back Long, having peeled away from Mustafi, takes it beautifully on his chest and on the run and then unloads a rasping shot from 16 yards. Martinelli beats it away, and Ings can’t get to the rebound.

    73 min: Ward-Prowe swings over a cross from the right after good work by Walker-Peters. Ceballos’ attempted clearance is pap, as the ball skims of the top of his head and on to Redmond, who controls it nicely and fires a snapshot into the sidenetting. If that had been on target it would have been a proper test for Martinez, who has not had much to deal with it so far.

    70 min: During a break in play, the camera picks up Ozil in a seat in the stands, sitting with his feet up and holding a dainty parasol. Now what words does that picture paint?

    68 min: Arsenal are beginning to sink very deep. Armstrong is allowed to pick up the ball wide on the right and bustle his way in-field before walloping a shot just ove the bar from 20 yards.

    66 min: After a spell of Saints pressure that Arsenal absorb competently, the visitors launch a counter-attack through Nketiah and Aubameyang. They combined nicely right up until the last pass, when their attack fizzled out.

    Arsenal substitution: Willock on, Pepe off.

    64 min: Arsenal go to sleep as Saints take a throw-on the left . Long pokes the ball on to Ings, who can’t keep down his shot from 10 yards.

    62 min: Ward-Prowse flicks on a corner at the near post. Bednarek fetches it beyond the far one and sends it back across the face of goal. But arsenal bundle it to safety.

    59 min: Walker-Peters whips over a useful cross. Holding is in the way, as he has been for most of the evening so far.

    56 min: Saka is a delight. He leads a flowing Arsenal counter-attack which looks like yielding a goal until the backtracking Ward-Prowse makes a vital block.

    54 min: Whatever about the lack of fans, a Premier League in which Arsenal are disciplined, diligent and smart is going to take some getting used to after all these years of drift. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: there’s more than half an hour left....

    52 min: Martinez picks out Aubemeyang with a fine long kick out of his hands. The Gabonese hurtles down the left and into the box. He could shoot. But he selflessly tries to feed Nketiah, who running into the centre of the box. Bednarek slides in to poke the ball back to the keeper! A goal-saving intervention for sure.

    50 min: A sweeping move down the left by Southampton, who’ve found a bit of urgency. When the ball is pulled back to the edge of the area, via a deflection, Ward-Prowse tonks his shot a couple of yards over the bar.

    47 min: Walker-Peters collects a long diagonal pass and scampers towards the Arsenal box. But Saka keeps pace with him and puts the ball out for a corner, which come to nowt.

    46 min: Walker-Peters has replaced Valery for the second half. That can be taken as a tribute to Saka, who clearly had the better of Southampton’s first-choice right-back. Also, Long has come on for his compatriot, Obafemi.

    The goal presented to Nketiah by McCarthy is the difference between the two teams. Arsenal have managed their lead pretty well since then, not that Saints have seemed hellbent on equalising. It’s a low-key game in the sun. Hasenhüttel should get a-hollerin’ at half-time.

    45 min: Stephens rolls a pass back to McCarthy. Remembering what happened last time, Nketiah chases after it. McCarthy seems unflustered and calmly passes back to Stephens. Nketiah is inches away from intercepting.

    42 min: Ward-Prowse sends a corner towards the edge of the six-yard box. Holding makes it is and heads emphatically clear.

    41 min: Good tackle by Bellerin to tip the ball away from Bertrand after Southampton mounted a decent attack, with Armstrong and Obafemi instrumental in it. “VAR exists to overturn clear and obvious errors,” notes CP Pricey. “So can we take another look at David Luiz contract extension?”

    39 min: Arsenal pop passes around with something close to a swagger. Southampton’s early vim has faded and now they are standing off the visitors. That suits Arsenal fine. It’s doesn’t make for great TV, though.

    37 min: Arsenal are looking comfortable. That, of course, is when they are their most dangerous to themselves.

    35 min: Saka has looked dangerous every time he’s got the ball, gliding past Valery on a regular basis.

    32 min: Tierney spanks a long diagonal cross from halfway towards Bellerin, roving forward down the opposite flank. Bertrand does well to halt the Spaniard’s progress and then relieve him of the ball.

    29 min: Kevin Towl writes in to note that Nketiah deserves credit for putting pressure on McCarthy, which is a fair point. “Credit for chasing lost causes,” writes Kevin of a quality that Arsenal have seldom shown lately.

    28 min: With an exquisite piece of control Ings takes down a pass into the box and then flips the ball to Redmond, who smashes it across the face of goal. Armstrong lunges at it but can’t get a telling touch.

    25 min: Drinks break.

    23 min: After Bellerin gives the ball away in the opposing half, Southampton attack the space behind him. Armstrong ultimately gets off his team’s first shot on target. All it does is give Martinez a nice easy taste of the action.

    A bizarre mistake by McCarthy gifts a goal to Arsenal. The goalkeeper ambled out of his box to receive a passback, then took a touch to control it before sidefooting a pass ... straight to Nketiah! The striker, closing on in from about six yards away, accepts the present and lopes past the goofing keeper to roll the ball into the empty net. Did the heat get to the keeper? That was a real brain-melting moment. Is Arteta’s luck beginning to turn?

    18 min: Ceballos flashes over a dangerous corner. Ward-Prowse, of all people, leaps high to head clear.

    15 min: A reply of Aubemeyang’s shot shows that McCarthy got a tiny but possibly critical touch on it. If he had not done so, the shot might have gone into the net via the underside of the bar. Meanwhile, Mary Waltz is not dancing around the issue of David Luiz’s new contract. “Arteta is a good man, he will be a fine coach,” mails Mary. “But signing David Luiz to a new contract was a massive error. Yes he shows signs of brilliance in moments but he always has that moment where his brain shuts off. Arteta could have let him go and no one would have blamed him.” Arteta values David Luiz’s character and, also, if he let him go, what kind of replacement would Arsenal sign?

    14 min: Ceballos dithers on the ball just inside his own half. Ings pinches it off him and scurries towards the Arsenal box, weaving his way into a shooting position. But Holding keeps track off him and blocks his shot.

    12 min: A Southampton freekick from the left is cleared as far as Armstrong, who has a bang from nearly 30 yards. He strikes it powerfully but nowhere near the target.

    10 min: A long, curling pass from Tierney in the left-back position gives Aubameyang something to chase. Of course he wins the race, leaving Saints’ defenders in the dust as he collects the ball and dashes into the box from the left. He shapes to curl towards the far corner with his right foot ... McCarthy goes down ... and the striker sidefoots a powerful shots over him ... and onto the crossbar!

    9 min: Good from Arsenal! A crisp passing move concludes with Xhaka sliding a pass through to Saka, who lays the ball across the face of goal from the left, leaving Pepe with a tap-in. But Saka was offside when he received the pass so there’s no score. Encouraging precision and movement from Arsenal, though. Apart from the offside, obviously.

    7 min: Ceballos pounces on a mistake by McCarthy and feeds Aubameyang, who lashes off a shot from 20 yards ... and an offside position. It wouldn’t have counted, but the keeper felt the need to atone for his error anyway and made the save.

    6 min: Southampton have had most of the ball so far but Arsenal have kept a good shape and not ceded any openings. It’s all happening at a fairly sedate pace, which is probably to be expected with the heat.

    4 min: Aubameyang works back diligently to nick the ball off Valery at the left-hand corner of the Arsenal box.

    3 min: The home side have made the brighter start, without threatening. Arsenal haven’t pieced together any kind of passing sequence yet.

    1 min: Southampton kick off. That means knocking the ball backwards for someone to boom a long diagonal pass towards the left-hand touchline. It’s what nearly everyone does.

    Arsenal, dressed in a sunny all yellow kit, are full of smiles as they await kickoff. Certainly no sign of angst in their demeanour. Either they are confident or they’re not much bothered about the kick-around. We’ll soon find out which it is.

    Weather check: It’s 30C at St Mary’s. The forecast says rain is due at some point in the coming hours but right now the sky is like postcard from the Caribbean.

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    Related: Liverpool on edge of glory and a rare Manchester United hat-trick – Football Weekly Extra

    Southampton’s manager notes the intense heat on the south coast and declares: “the fitter team will win today.” If that’s true, a home win seems the smart bet (note: betting is not smart).

    Asked why the feisty young Frenchman is not included today, Arteta says “It’s squad management. Squad management.” And then adds intriguingly: “Whatever internal issue we have, we deal with it privately.

    As you can see from the lineups below, Arteta has made four alterations to the side that started the defeat to Brighton. Leno’s injury means Martinez gets the goes, while Xhaka’s recovery means Guendouzi can ... have the evening off: he’s not even on the bench. But Kolasinac and Lacazette are, as they are replaced by Tierney and Nketiah. Ozil is back in the squad but only as an onlooker for the moment. Southampton, meanwhile, stick with the same side who thumped Norwich six days ago.

    Southampton: McCarthy; Valery, Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg; Obafemi, Redmond, Ings.

    Subs: Gunn, Walker-Peters, Vestergaard, Voskins, Romeu, Smallbone, Long, Tella, Adams

    A post-lockdown mid-table skirmish in oppressive heat does not sound like a must-watch, but this has the makings of a fascinating match. Southampton begin three points lower in the table but seems to be in a slightly better place than Arsenal insofar as they are edging their way to brighter days under a manager who knows what’s what. Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, is still trying to make sense of the puzzle that is Arsenal. That might not even be possible, but we can sure look for clues today.

    Southampton resumed the season impressively by trouncing Norwich at Carrow Road last weekend, and they will be aiming to reproduce that form at St Mary’s, where they have struggled this season, which is why they have the worst home record in the Premier League. But Arsenal do not look like fearsome visitors – they have won only twice away all season and, of course, flopped on the south coast last weekend by losing in the last minute Brighton.

    Continue reading...

Historical Transfer News and Team Gossip has been archived below:

  • Fri, 23 Jun 2017 15:56:31 +0000: Pellegrino appointed Southampton manager - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Southampton | BBC
    Southampton appoint Mauricio Pellegrino as their new manager, with the 45-year-old former Alaves boss replacing Claude Puel.
  • Thu, 15 Jun 2017 08:42:32 +0000: Southampton sack manager Puel - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Southampton | BBC
    Southampton sack boss Claude Puel after one season in charge, when they finished eighth in the Premier League and reached the League Cup final.
  • Wed, 14 Jun 2017 08:00:05 +0000: Premier League fixtures in full - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Southampton | BBC
    Find out your club's full fixture list for the 2017-18 Premier League season.
  • Tue, 13 Jun 2017 14:24:39 +0000: Barnsley sign Saints defender McCarthy - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Southampton | BBC
    Barnsley sign Southampton defender Jason McCarthy for an undisclosed fee on a three-year deal.
  • Wed, 07 Jun 2017 18:20:44 +0000: Liverpool end interest in Van Dijk - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Southampton | BBC
    Liverpool apologise to Southampton over "any misunderstanding" and end their interest in defender Virgil van Dijk.

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has been a busy man in the transfer market this summer as he looks to reinforce his squad for the start of next season after a great run which saw them promoted to the English top flight via the play offs. Adkins is now desperate to bring in new names to the club so that he can secure their position in the top flight for another season at least.

The first signing of the summer sees promising young full back Nathaniel Clyne arrive at St Mary`s from Crystal Palace after the promise of the clubs plans to attempt to quality for Europe this season were very enticing for the player. Southampton though will need to pay a large compensation fee to his current club if the deal goes through as due to the players age his former club feel they are due some type of payment from the saints after he signed a new four year deal last week.

Another player who has just be signed by the club is talented striker Jay Rodriguez after he recently arrived from Burnley for a fee which is believed to be around the six and a half million pounds mark. Adkins has long been an admirer of the player and is extremely happy with the signing which he sees as just perfect to bolster his attacking line for next season.

A shocking bit of news right now for Southampton is the fact that their attempts to bring defender Alexander Buttner to St Mary`s may be in tatters after his current club Vitesse Arnham have halted the move after another club have come into the frame for the players signature. Southampton may now find themselves in a bidding war for the player who they see as a perfect addition to their squad so as of now all dealings over the player have hit a premature halt.