06/10/2013: Saints 2-0 Swansea
Saints - Lallana (19) Rodriguez (83)
Attendance: 28,570 (1,795 Swansea fans)
Referee: Mike Dean
Saints moved up to fourth with a 2-0 win over Swansea at St Marys. Mauricio Pochettino's men dominated early on, but also had to withstand heavy pressure mid-way through the game. It was probably the most entertaining and open contest of the season so far.
Swansea sat back and allowed Saints the initiative early on. Jonjo Shelvey and Canas were permanently stationed in front of the back four, with wingers Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge regularly tracking back in an attempt to close out the space. Saints' early pressing was superb. Keeper Michel Vorm was certainly unnerved by the home side's aggressive play. Dani Osvaldo had the first major chance, firing over from a tight angle. Swansea initially looked like they could be difficult to break down, but were soon stretched by Saints, who often shifted the play out wide. The deadlock was broken in the 19th minute. Morgan Schneiderlin cushioned down a poor clearance on the edge of the area for Steven Davis. He fed Adam Lallana, who took a touch before blasting into the top corner of the net.
Swansea were naturally a lot more ambitious after the goal. The game was really end to end from that point, with both sides going close to adding to the scoring. Lallana could have notched a second, before Rickie Lambert tested Vorm with a free-kick. The visitors soon took control, however. Michael Laudrup's men were incredibly unlucky not to level before half time. Michu tested Artur Boruc with a close range header. Moments later Wilfred Bony's brilliant flick snuck past two Saints players before reaching Nathan Dyer. The winger cut inside before smashing against the inside of the post. Boruc made another fine save from a Bony header just before the break.
Swansea controlled possession for much of the second-half, but failed to penetrate the Saints backline too often. Dyer, Bony and Shelvey had half-chances. The away side found it more difficult to break through following the introduction of James Ward-Prowse, who added extra protection on the left-hand side. With the extra man in midfield Saints slowly worked their way back into the game. Victor Wanyama's 76th minute effort was ruled out for reasons only known to referee Mike Dean. The Kenyan tucked away Ward-Prowse's corner, and was well into his celebration before realising the game had kicked-off again. Fortunately Saints wouldn't have to wait too much longer to kill the game off. Substitute Jay Rodriguez took advantage of a mix up in the Swansea defence, chesting down a long ball before calmly finishing past Vorm. Saints never looked in any danger from that point, with fans enjoying a relaxing final 10 minutes or so.
A hard fought win, which we probably just about deserved on the balance of play. Saints were a lot more open at the back than we have been in previous games, but we still managed to keep yet another clean sheet. Boruc deserves huge credit for shutting Swansea out with series of inspired saves. Things are really starting to click at the other end too. We're creating more chances with every passing game, in addition to playing attractive football. Saints now have 14 points after 7 games. To put that into context, we were only 1 point better off going into our Boxing Day fixture at Fulham last season. Cleary we've improved exponentially in a very short space of time. It's an incredibly exciting time to be a Saints fan right now. Who's to say how far we can go with this team?
Boruc: 8. Made a number of eye-catching stops, including a couple he had no right to make. If you were being really unfair you could criticise his kicking, but that didn't really matter in the end.
Clyne: 8. Difficult to pinpoint many things he did wrong.
Fonte: 6. One slack piece of play early in the second half nearly led to an opening for Bony, but otherwise fairly solid
Lovren: 7. Not quite at the level of previous games, but good enough. A few minor errors, but the good more than outweighed the bad
Fox: 6. Didn't play nearly as badly as some have suggested. Left far too exposed on occasions, which made his job more difficult. Found it tough against Dyer at times, but also put in a number of decent tackles.
Wanyama: 8. An absolute giant in midfield. Made a number of important interceptions
Schneiderlin: 8. All over the pitch. Constantly showing for the ball
Lallana: 8. Best display of the season so far without a doubt. A bundle of energy in the final third, always looking to make things happen
Davis: 8. Kept things moving quickly with intelligent movement and incisive one-touch play
Lambert: 6. Didn't get much service after the first half-hour or so, but lively early on
Osvaldo: 7. A real menace in the first half. Hopefully his injury isn't too bad
Ward-Prowse: 7. Helped shore things up on the left-hand side
Rodriguez: 6. Decent finish for the goal
Guly: A few decent touches in the closing stages