After a missed penalty and spurning several huge first half chances, Allan Saint-Maximin struck late to secure a massive 1-0 win over Southampton at St Mary’s.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with our marks out of 10:
Dubravka – 7 – Arguably his quietest game of the season so far, with Southampton only managing one or two shots on target after going down to 10 men early on. That said, he did what was needed of him when called upon, parrying a stinging shot from Shane Long and soldiering on after taking a whack to his knee in the second half. Back to back clean sheets! Let’s hope he’s OK.
Manquillo – 7 – Another accomplished performance from the Spaniard, who’s without doubt the club’s most reliable right-back for me. Frustrated Djenepo early on with some well timed tackles and took his chance to get forward when he could. Wasn’t tested much after the red card but it was another strong showing – especially when you consider it was his 3rd game in 7 days after 6 weeks out.
Lascelles – 8 – A rock solid performance from the skipper. Made several clearances when Southampton were on top in the opening few minutes and continued to bat away anything they threw at us with 10 men. Had a goal disallowed and showed signs that his distribution from the back is improving too, with him playing a few nice diagonals and moving the ball quickly as we looked to make the most of our extra man in the second half.
Fernandez – 7 – Several big clearances and aerial wins, with the Argentine looking pretty comfortable all afternoon; despite being up against a 15-goal Danny Ings and Shane Long – who may not be a finisher but is an energetic handful.
Rose – 6 – A mixed performance. Solid defensively for 75% of the game, but was beaten a few times early on, with a lot of Southampton pressure coming down his side in the opening stages. Recovered well and was solid from that point onwards, but still doesn’t look fit enough to get up and down the pitch, with him often failing to make overlapping runs or get close enough to ASM down our left. Steady, but nothing on a fully-fit Jetro Willems from what I’ve seen so far.
Hayden – 7 – A solid and combative performance from the midfielder after a below par display in his last start vs Burnley. He was far too negative on the ball last weekend but looked to go forward more often today, won his battles in midfield and was often first to loose balls. Did well to carry on after a horror tackle from Djenepo. Much better from Hayden, who used the ball better and did the dirty work well to allow Shelvey to thrive (in the first half especially).
Shelvey – 8 – He lost his passing radar in the second half – so some may feel this mark is a little high – but his first half display was absolutely phenomenal. If Dwight Gayle had his shooting boots on, he would’ve come away with 2 or 3 assists in the opening 45 minutes! His creativity SHOULD have put us out of sight at half time and he ran the show at times, with his cross field passes and dinked balls in behind causing havoc early on. Got frustrated as the game went on – with him having a spell where nothing was coming off for him after the break – but looked a class above the rest in the first half in particular.
Ritchie – 5 – Huffed and puffed but didn’t really offer enough; and owes Saint-Maximin a drink or two after he had a tame first-half penalty saved by McCarthy! Got booked in the second half for a blatant pull of the shirt and was hooked off on the hour mark as a result. His industry and intensity definitely adds something to this NUFC side, but his lack of pace meant he wasn’t nearly as effective as Lazaro was on Tuesday in that right wing role.
Almiron – 6 – As ever, he was energetic and willing in his movement and running, but he didn’t quite show the quality that made him Man of the Match as West Brom in midweek. A few nice turns, but hit a huge first half chance straight at McCarthy from point-blank range and was cheap in possession at times.
Saint-Maximin – 9* – The match winner and a constant threat when we got him on the ball. Had the beating of Valery every time and made a few brilliant runs to either carry the ball up the pitch, unsettle a stubborn Saints side or create chances himself; with him almost bagging a brilliant assist for Dwight Gayle. Scored the all important goal, finishing calmly after forcing Valery into an error, and worked hard late on to preserve our lead.
Gayle – 4 – With him not known for his hold up play or ability to bring others into play, the trait Gayle lives and dies by is his ability to score goals – and he wasted a bucket load of huge chances today. We should credit the fact he’s getting into good areas (something Joelinton must learn to do), but he missed a HAT-TRICK of huge opportunities today. Hit two point-blank efforts straight at McCarthy after 2 superb balls from Shelvey and failed to get his next big chance on target after ASM’s clever cut-back. Good movement and great to see us creating chances for him, but he nearly cost us today – and fizzled out of the game in the second half.
Joelinton – 6 – Got caught on the ball a few times just after being brought on, but put in a strong shift defensively and carried the ball from deep impressively late on too. Looks more comfortable when dropping in and having the game ahead of him.
Lazaro – 6 – Replaced Manquillo to give us a slightly more attacking outlet at right-back at 0-0. Was solid defensively, sharp on the ball and tried to pick up the pace of our attacks.
S Longstaff – 6 – Came on for Hayden late on in a bid to make use of our 62% possession. Didn’t make any major impact, but did play the ball in behind that led to Valery’s error and ASM’s goal as a result!