28/11/2012: Saints 1-1 Norwich

Saints suffered a slightly frustrating 1-1 draw with Norwich, which leaves Nigel Adkins' men in the bottom three. On the plus side, the team is now four unbeaten, collecting a respectable 8 points for the month of November.

Right from kick-off the game was played at a much slower pace than Sunday's win over Newcastle. It was exactly the same team that destroyed the Magpies, but Saints were a lot less incisive on the ball. Norwich sat very deep getting men behind the ball. The home side dominated possession early on, but were unable to create too much against an extremely well drilled unit. Whenever Saints got within touching distance of the goal, the Canaries would crowd out the penalty area with bodies. The visitors came into it slightly after the 20 minute mark, but took precious few risks going forward. Saints had the first major chance, with Adam Lallana firing a well-struck volley over the bar from a difficult angle. The home side took the lead on 32 minutes with Lambert poking home from close range, following a Lallana free-kick. Norwich rarely threatened from open-play, and were reluctant to commit men forward and risk being hit on the counter. Alexander Tettey was the only man who looked capable of opening up the Saints defence. He made a couple of bursting runs through the middle, only to be thwarted at the last minute. Norwich looked to snatch something with a long ball into the box or at a set-piece. The equaliser came about from a free-kick. Robert Snodgrass' low drive squirmed under Paulo Gazzaniga's body. It was a poor goal to concede. Moments earlier Gaston Ramirez had come agonisingly close to doubling Saints' advantage, curling just past the post.

The second-half followed a fairly similar pattern, with precious few chances for either side. Norwich continued to stick men behind the ball, making it very difficult for Saints to break down. The home side were slightly lackadaisical in possession in times, unable to replicate the same intensity shown on Sunday. Saints failed to stretch the Norwich backline, with most of the attacking play coming through the middle. The hosts also resorted to playing the long-ball up towards Lambert, but he was invariably crowded out in the box. Both sides had half-chances, with Ramirez, Jason Puncheon and Lambert firing efforts at goal. By the end, both sides seemed reluctant to throw everything at it, with a point fairly satisfactory for both teams.

A fairly poor spectacle, which won't live very long in the memory. Norwich came with a game plan to nullify Saints' biggest attacking threats, and managed to nick a point. We mentioned in the preview that Saints might struggle to reach the same energy levels as Sunday and that proved to be the case. There were a few tired legs out there, with the home side running out of ideas by the end. Still, we said on here at the start of the month 8 points would be an acceptable points total for November and that's what we've got. But for a couple of goalkeeping errors it could well have been 12. Saints seemed to have found the right formula in defence, but all three goalkeepers have failed to convince this season. For all his faults, Gazzaniga is still probably the best option and the one worth sticking with. Kelvin Davis and Artur Boruc have made mistakes too, and there's no guarantee they'd be any better right now. Overall, the outlook is still fairly positive for Saints. It's a tricky trip up to Anfield next, followed by two massive home games against fellow strugglers Reading and Sunderland.

Attendance: 29,325

Match Ratings:

Gazzaniga: 6. Cost the team with the mistake for the Norwich goal. Did make one outstanding second-half save

Clyne: 7. Not quite as influential going forward, but sound defensively

Yoshida: 6. Distribution a bit hit and miss. Had a fairly comfortable night from a defensive point of view

Fonte: 8. Looks like he's fully adapted to the pace of the Premier League now. Timing and tackling spot on

Shaw: 8. Best first team showing yet. Made a number of well-timed challenges, never let a player get beyond him

Schneiderlin: 7. Passing largely decent as you would expect

Cork: 7. Slightly more sloppy than usual at times, but solid enough

Puncheon: 6. Worked hard, but didn't really open up the Norwich back-line too many times

Lallana: 7. Looked Saints' most threatening player for the most part

Ramirez: 6. Struggled to get into the games. A few good touches, but largely disappointing

Lambert: 7. Looked good when dropping deep. There where it mattered for the goal


Reeves: One misplaced pass could have proved costly, but otherwise ok

Rodriguez: Didn't really have enough time to make an impact