21/01/2013: Saints 0-0 Everton

Mauricio Pochettino got off the mark with a point in his first game in charge. Saints dominated the first half, but tired slightly in the second. The reaction from the crowd was very positive. Nigel Adkins got the recognition he deserved, but everyone was 100% behind the team throughout.

A lot remained the same, but Pochettino did make some subtle alterations. Saints pressed the ball with greater intensity. Guly Do Prado and Rickie Lambert were particularly brilliant at closing down space, chasing down every ball to prevent Everton from playing their way out from the back. Full-backs Luke Shaw and Nathaniel Clyne were encouraged to get forward at every opportunity. Saints never allowed their opponents a moment's rest, which made for an exciting first half. The home side came very close to taking a 4th minute lead, with Phil Jagielka nearly putting through his own net from a Lambert cross. A couple of moments later Jason Puncheon cut inside before firing a deflected shot wide. Gaston Ramirez tested Tim Howard in the 12 minute. The same player then came close to scoring directly from a corner. Lambert's 19th minute free-kick came back off the post. In the 25th minute Saints brilliantly countered, with Ramirez playing in Lambert on the right hand side. The number seven made space for himself, turning the Everton defender before having his shot saved by Howard. Saints had a shout for a penalty when Yoshida was pushed over by Distin in the box. The home side did temporarily slow the tempo after the 30 minute mark, but finished the half strongly. At certain points in the game, Lambert drifted out wide, with Guly filling in the space up front. Ramirez had another shot tipped wide. Saints were then involved in a huge goal-mouth scramble. Lambert's initial header was cleared off the line by Nikica Jelavic. Hooiveld then had his effort kept out by Howard. Lambert had another great chance to give Saints a half-time lead, heading just wide from a Puncheon cross on 42 minutes. Everton barely got within touching distance of Boruc's goal.

With so much energy expended in the first half, Saints inevitably tired after the interval. A side of Everton's quality were always going to come strong at some point. The Toffees had chances, with Fellani testing Boruc with a low strike. From the resulting corner, Fellani headed straight at the keeper. Saints weren't playing badly, but struggled for creativity in the final third. Everton looked more likely to score in the second half, especially when Victor Anicebe was introduced to proceedings. The Toffees powerhouse played the ball across goal, only to see Jelavic trip over his own feet. On 67 minutes Boruc brilliantly tipped Anicebe's near post shot wide. Saints showed plenty of endeavour towards the end of the game, but couldn't quite find a way through. Lambert had the best chance of the second half on 82 minutes, heading over from a Puncheon corner.

A solid start for Pochettino. Obviously it's far too early to draw too many conclusions, but if the first half performance is anything to go by, then it could be an inspired appointment. The Argentinian was smart enough not to tinker with it too much. The solid defensive principles that were put in place by Adkins remain, but the increased pressing lead to more chances. The only problem with that approach is that it's very difficult to maintain that level of energy for 90 minutes. Still, if Saints continue to play like that then we'll start turning draws into wins sooner rather than later. A nine day gap gives Pochettino the ideal opportunity to really get his ideas across. The time to really judge the manager won't come for a while yet, but the early signs are promising.

Attendance: 28,359 (2,483 Everton fans)

Match Ratings:

Boruc: 8. Always looked comfortable dealing with crosses. Kept Everton out with some terrific saves in the 2nd half

Clyne: 7. A few minor setbacks, but by and large coped well with some threatening Everton attacks.

Yoshida: 8. Defensively as assured as he has been all season. Distribution very good

Hooiveld: 8. Has done incredibly well to turn it around recently, following a horror start to the season. Looks completely comfortable at this level now

Shaw: 7. One slipup towards the end of the game, but otherwise worked the ball well up and down the left-hand side

Cork: 7. Faded slightly after the break, but overall pretty tidy in midfield

Schneiderlin: 8. Not quite at the level of his Chelsea showing, but still a class act on and off the ball. So much energy

Puncheon: 7. The usual workrate was there, even if not everything he tried came off on this occasion

Ramirez: 8. Looks like he could really thrive under Pochettino. At the heart of a number of good attacking moves in the first half

Guly: 7. Chased down every ball, preventing Everton from playing out from the back

Lambert: 7. Only thing missing was a goal. Will be disappointed not to have scored, but his general play was more than satisfactory


Rodriguez: 5. Not really involved in the game too much

Davis: 6. A few decent touches

De Ridder: Not really on for long enough to make an impact