The first Premier League game was underway for both Southampton and Swansea, teams which are both resigned to the fact they are very likely to lose their best players before the window closes. With the futures of Virgil Van Dijk and Gylfi Sigurdsson uncertain, it was a chance for the existing payers to show they won’t be missed…
The first half: A story of missed CHANCES
It was almost the dream start for new Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino on his first official game in charge as 2 minutes in, Italian striker Manolo Gabbiadini glanced a header off Fabianski’s crossbar. A lucky escape for the Swans.
With the Welsh side on the ropes, Southampton created another chance just minutes later, however Dusan Tadic could only steer the ball wide of the goal from six-yards out.
Like many of the opening Premier League matches, goals threatened to fly in at any moment and it was new Swans signing Tammy Abraham, 12 minutes in, who almost brought a debut goal for the away side. But it wasn’t meant to be as he nodded Wayne Routledge’s cross wide of the target. Considering the Chelsea loanee scored 26 goals in all competitions last season for Bristol city, he would have liked to at least hit the target with that one.
Controversy came almost half-an-hour into the game and the Saints pleaded for a penalty as tricky winger Dusan Tadic beat Federico Fernandez to the ball, consequently going to ground and appealing for a penalty. A tough decision certainly, but the referee may have got that wrong.
The first half was dominated by the South-coast side, but they simply couldn’t find the net with the 13 shots they registered in the first half. However, with just one of those shots on target, it’s obvious to see where the problem lies for Southampton in the first 45 minutes of the new Premier League season.
The second half: Saints lack QUALITY to find the net
As the second half kicked off at St Mary’s no changes were made by either side and the home side had hoped their dominance will pay off this half.
It was that man again, Tammy Abraham, who threatened first just minutes into the start of the half and with one of the closest efforts of the game so far. The big number 9 produced a lovely turn in the box and from six-yards out had his shot blocked by right-back Cedric for the Saints.
Minutes later up the other end and dangerous striker Manolo Gabbiadini again had an effort just wide of the goal. The Saints continued to knock on the door for the opening goal, but it just wasn’t their day.
Two quick substitutions came for the Saints at the 70th minute mark. Manolo Gabbiadini, who endured a frustrating afternoon, was replaced by Charlie Austin returning to full fitness after a long injury lay-off towards the back end of last season. The second change saw holding midfielder James Ward-Prowse replaced by the tricky Sofiane Boufal who has yet to make a strong impression to the Southampton faithful.
Boufal, however, was the man looking lively after coming on. Himself and Ryan Bertrand linked up well to win Southampton’s 12th corner of the match but like the rest of them, nothing came of it.
The game started to come to life again as Southampton became more and more productive, with Dusan Tadic letting fly from 25-yards only to be stopped by a fine Fabianski save.
And just a minute after, Southampton had a golden chance as defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu flicked a ball into the area, but Mayo Yoshida couldn’t convert with the goal-gaping at his mercy from only a matter of yards out. A big let off for Paul Clement’s side.
With Saints really putting on the pressure, Tadic, who had been the Saint’s best player thus far, curled an effort just over the bar. Then Swansea were all hands to the defensive pump, Tammy Abraham finding himself replaced by Kyle Bartley. Within minutes of the defender being on, Southampton were crying for a penalty off the 26-year-old. Charlie Austin’s volley struck the arm of Bartley from close range but no penalty again was given by Mike Jones.
With three additional minutes of stoppage time, the home side still huffed and puffed but didn’t have enough quality to knock the Swan’s door down. It is a fantastic point for Swansea to start the season but Southampton will feel it’s two points dropped and will have to make amends when they face West Ham in a week’s time.
Main talking point:
The story of missed opportunities for Southampton: The home side racked up 27 shots in total, but only 2 of those managed to trouble the Swansea keeper. On the day, the strikers, Manolo Gabbiadini especially, weren’t able to cause Fabianski problems and the Saints are left to rue two missed points at the start of their new Premier League campaign.
Southampton could also feel unlucky having had 2 penalty claims turned down by referee Mike Jones. The first appeal in particular could have gone Southampton’s way in any other game.
Possession: Southampton: 60% Swansea: 40%
Shots: Southampton: 29 Swansea: 4
Shots on target: Southampton: 2 Swansea: 0
Corners: Southampton: 13 Swansea: 0
Fouls: Southampton: 10 Swansea: 13
Southampton line-up: (4-3-2-1) Forster 6, Bertrand 6 (McQueen N/A), Stephens 6,Yoshida 5, Soares 6, Ward-Prowse 6 (Boufal 7), Davis 6, Romeu 6, Redmond 6, Tadic , Gabbiadini 6 (Austin )
Swansea line-up: (4-4-2) Fabianski 8, Olsson 7, Mawson 7, Fernandez 7, Naughton 7, Routledge 6 (McBurnie N/A), Britton 6 (Fulton 6), Fer 6, Carroll 6, Ayew 6, Abraham 7 (Bartley 6)