Saints went down to a very disappointing 3-0 defeat to West Brom. Mauricio Pochettino's men were well below par, putting in one of their worst displays of the season. It brings an end to the club's six match unbeaten run.
Saints created an opportunity inside the first minute when Adam Lallana whipped in a cross from the right, but it was the visitors who looked sharper in the early exchanges. The Baggies were set-up very well. Sitting back and soaking up pressure, before swiftly countering to devastating effect. Saints were undone on the break on numerous occasions by a West Brom side who moved the ball about very quickly in the final third. Steve Clarke's side opened the scoring on six minutes. Romelu Lukaku flicked the ball on from a corner for Marc Antonie Fortune, who somehow poked the ball past Artur Boruc. It was a very sloppy goal to concede. Saints had plenty of the ball throughout the first half, but looked slow and ponderous within the 35 yards of Ben Foster's goal. West Brom's wide players tucked in, allowing the home side little room to manoeuvre. Saints did have a few half chances, with Jay Rodriguez and Nathaniel Clyne firing efforts at goal. West Brom looked the more likely to add to the scoring however. On 19 minutes Lukaku tested Boruc with a low drive.
Pochettino replaced Jack Cork with Gaston Ramirez at the start of the second half, switching to more of a 4-4-2. The full-backs were initially encouraged to push on a bit more too, with Saints attempting to stretch the game. The home side's final ball was poor however. Clyne once again had the best chance of the half, hitting the crossbar from a tight angle. West Brom were still finding gaps on the break. Lukaku was a handful throughout. The Belgian doubled the away side's advantage on 66 minutes, latching on to Fortune's through ball, before escaping the attention of Clyne to slot into the net. Moments later things went from bad to worse for the home side when Ramirez was sent off. The Uruguayan embarked on a driving run through the centre of the pitch before brushing off Shane Long with his arm. Ramirez was being held back by Long, and arguably should have been awarded a free-kick before the incident took place. Nevertheless, if you take the incident in isolation there's little argument the correct decision was made. West Brom were also reduced to ten men when Fortune was sent off for shoving Ramirez in the face in the resulting melee. The Baggies added insult to injury on 77 minutes when Long nutmegged Boruc to make it 3-0. Then on 82 minutes Danny Fox was sent off for a reckless two-footed lunge on Steven Reid. Steven Davis's pass to Fox was far too short, but the Saints left-back should have judged the situation much better. Rookie referee Robert Madley probably made the right calls for all three red cards, but his overall performance left a lot to be desired.
One of those days where nothing went right for Saints. Steve Clarke's new 4-3-3 formation worked an absolute treat for West Brom. Just as they did at the Hawthorns they gave Saints an absolute lesson in counter attacking football. Defensively they left precious few gaps for the home side to exploit. Saints weren't clever or quick enough to create many clear cut openings. Defensively we were as poor as we have been for a while too. With the exception of Clyne, the entire back five was all over the place. Fans shouldn't be too concerned. There's been nothing to suggest that this will be anything other than a one-off. It was a display totally out of character. Unfortunately you're always going to have slip ups here and there. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if we pull out one or two really big performances in the last three games, but even if we don't, the long-term outlook still looks very good.
Attendance: 31,946 (3,195 West Brom fans)
Boruc: 5. Made a few decent stops in the first half, but looked indecisive for most of the afternoon. Should have done better for at least two of the goals
Clyne: 6. The best of a bad bunch. Skinned by Lukaku on one occasion, but otherwise pretty good defensively, with some important sliding tackles. Decent going forward too, involved in two good goal-scoring opportunities
Yoshida: 5. Worst game for a while. Passing very poor for the most part and positioning not to the very high standard you would usually expect
Hooiveld: 5. Looked shaky throughout, misjudged a number of situations
Fox: 4. An afternoon to forget for the left-back. Given the runaround by Lukaku and co, and crossing was mostly disappointing. Red card summed up his day
Cork: 6. Was doing ok before being withdrawn at half-time
Schneiderlin: 6. One brilliant goal-saving interception in the second half, but otherwise well below the level you would expect
Lallana: 5. Barely involved at all. Gave the ball away far too often
Davis: 5. Another who was well below his best. Sold Fox short with the pass which led to his red card
Rodriguez: 5. Pretty anonymous for the most part
Lambert: 5. Movement was reasonably good, but didn't really test the West Brom backline too often
Ramirez: 5. Looked positive before his dismissal
Mayuka: 5. Game was gone by the time he was introduced
Fonte: Brought on to prevent further damage