Saints went down to a very disappointing 2-1 defeat at home to bottom club QPR. The flat performance leaves Mauricio Pochettino's men still with it all to do. Saints remain in 16th position, but need to improve if they want to avoid being sucked back into the drop zone.
The hosts did start the game reasonably well. Saints attacked with purpose in the first 10 minutes, with Adam Lallana winning a corner inside the first 30 seconds. The QPR back four initially looked shaky, but the away side got enough men behind the ball to limit Saints. Jack Cork had the first serious effort on goal, firing wide from outside the area. Saints dominated possession in the early going, with QPR happy to sit back before attempting to hit on the counter. Rangers' opener came out of nowhere. Loic Remy got in behind Danny Fox, latching on to a long through ball, before finishing past Artur Boruc. The momentum completely shifted after that. Saints looked disjointed and flat, while QPR grew in confidence. The visitors shut down space, and pulled every trick in the book to throw their opponents off their game. Jay Bothroyd was lucky to stay on the pitch following a horrendous challenge on Nathaniel Clyne. When Saints couldn't play through Rangers they attempted to go long. Christopher Samba ate up everything in the air, however. Things did improve slightly before the break, with substitute Jay Rodriguez making an instant impact. Julio Cesar couldn't keep hold of Rodriguez's long range drive, with Gaston Ramirez scooping the ball over the Brazilian keeper on the rebound.
Saints attacked from kick-off after the break, just as they had done at the start of the first half. Fox made a good run down the left-wing, creating an early chance. The home side were dominating possession, but couldn't quite find that final pass. The best opportunities came from distance. Jose Fonte struck the side netting, before Rodriguez curled a shot just past the post. Rodriguez nearly caught Cesar out again, only this time there was nobody following in. Lambert had little joy in the air playing up top during the first half, so was deployed in a wider position later in the game. He was ineffective in both roles. Saints attempted to stretch the game, while Rangers were dangerous on the counter, playing quick balls over the top of the Southampton full-backs. Junior Hoilett looked very handy out-wide, embarking on a number of successful solo runs. QPR silenced the St Marys crowd on 77 minutes, taking a 2-1 lead. Substitute Luke Shaw misjudged a Rangers pass, getting sucked too far forward. Park ji-Sung then got the better of Maya Yoshida, before crossing for Bothroyd, who had a simple tap in. Saints were far too predictable going forward towards the end of the game, with QPR having little trouble sniffing out most of the danger. Yoshida had the best chance to level proceedings on 86 minutes. His header was brilliantly saved by Rangers' sub keeper Robert Green. Referee Howard Webb allowed for 6 extra minutes at the end of the game, but Saints struggled to muster up anything.
All in all a very disappointing afternoon. Saints looked a shadow of the side that played so well in Pochettino's first four games. Defensively we look a lot more vulnerable than we have done for a while. Individual mistakes have cost us a lot of goals in recent weeks, and we were caught out with the high-line for the opener. Hopefully when Fonte gets a few more games under his belt the team will look a bit more settled. Left-back is a bit of an issue at the moment. Danny Fox is coming under increased pressure from the fans, which won't do him any good whatsoever. Shaw's form has dipped recently too. The 17 year old has shown to be a bit na´ve in his last few outings, making mistakes which have led to goals. There was very little spark or imagination going forward either. In the grand scheme of things it's not a big disaster. We're still well placed to survive, and have enough winnable games to see ourselves out of trouble. Performances like this tend to happen from time to time, but it makes it feel so much worse due to the 'Redknapp factor'. QPR still have a long way to go, but have given themselves a bit more of a chance. They don't look pretty, but they did what they had to do to get the three points. For once, most of their big name players rose to the occasion. Saints in contrast were well below their best. I'm not sure there's a single player that can be truly satisfied with their afternoon's work. We'll bounce back from this I'm sure, but at the moment it has put everyone on a bit of a downer.
Attendance: 31,728 (3,194 QPR fans)
Boruc: 6. Nothing much to say really. Didn't have much to do apart from pick the ball out of the net a couple of times
Clyne: 6. Made a few big tackles, but had his work cut out defending against Hoilett
Fonte: 6. Took a while to get into his stride, but looked solid defensively in the second half. A few half decent efforts on goal too
Yoshida: 5. Passing was unusually poor throughout. Didn't cover himself in glory for the second goal
Fox: 6. Made a few good runs up the left flank, but suspect defensively
Cork: 7. Probably Saints' best player. Defensively sharp. Used the ball fairly well too
Schneiderlin: 6. Not at his best by a long shot, especially in the first half when he gave the ball away a few times. Did make a few important tackles, though
Puncheon: 5. Arguably his worst display of the season. Very little of the things he did came off. Passing pretty poor
Ramirez: 6. Did ok in spells. Took his goal well
Lallana: 5. Had a fairly quiet afternoon before he was forced off injured
Lambert: 5. Struggled to compete with Samba in the air. Had very little influence on the game
Rodriguez: 6. Made an instant impact, helping set up the goal
Shaw: 5. Partially at fault for the second goal
Ward-Prowse: 5. Did ok, but there were probably better options to bring on