15/03/2014: Saints 4-2 Norwich

Saints recorded their first home league win since January 11th, in a game which ended up being a lot more nervy that it should have been. The home side appeared to be in control for most of the contest, but were guilty of sloppiness on several occasions throughout the 90 minutes. The win moves Saints up to 8th.

Saints were in control during the first 20 minutes. Norwich were a lot more open at the back than they've have been in previous encounters against Mauricio Pochettino's side. It took only 5 minutes for Saints to find the net. Steven Davis played a low ball along the floor to Jay Rodriguez, who swiftly combined with Gaston Ramirez on the right. Ramirez played a perfectly weighted through-ball along the ground for Morgan Schneiderlin, who beat the offside trap before calmly finishing past John Ruddy.

Saints had further chances to stretch their lead immediately after that goal. Davis headed over from inside the box. Ramirez curled just past the post, and also headed over from a James Ward-Prowse corner. The latter part of the first half was a lot scrappier. Norwich pressed well in the middle of the park, but offered very little in the way of creativity. Saints constantly played themselves into trouble with lackadaisical play. There was little urgency in attempting to play out from the back. Ward-Prowse set the tone early on with an under-hit back-pass, but several players were guilty of needless mistakes. As slack as Saints were at times, Norwich still barely managed a shot on goal. Gary Hooper blasted just past the side-netting not long before half-time.

The second-half took a while to get going, but on 57 minutes Saints appeared to have the game as good as won. Rickie Lambert made an immediate impact, having just replaced Adam Lallana. Lambert turned his man in the box, before sending Ruddy the wrong way. The home side looked a lot more fluid going forward from that point on. The third goal arrived on 72. Lambert played in Guly inside the penalty area, following a low cross from Clyne. The Brazilian substitute took on a couple of players before firing at the onrushing Ruddy. The ball came back out to Lambert who played in Rodriguez for a relatively simple finish.

Saints looked to be heading to a comfortable finish, with Rodriguez smashing against the bar in search of a fourth. The visitors were gifted an opportunity to get back into the game on 85, however. Jose Fonte inexplicably played in Johan Elmander for a clear run at goal. Even the goal shy Swede couldn't miss. A minute later Saints did it again. This time it was Guly who lost possession near the middle of the park. Elmander took the ball on before playing in Ricky van Wolfswinkel, who had his shot parried by Artur Boruc. Robert Snodgrass blasted in on the rebound. Norwich never looked like finding an equaliser. They launched several high balls into the box, which were all dealt with fairly easily. Then with seconds to go Davis broke for Saints after Norwich's covering defender slipped. He ran half the length of the pitch before squaring to Gallagher, who took a touch, before dinking over Ruddy. Goal-line technology confirmed that the ball had clearly crossed the line before a Norwich defender got back to hook away.

A strange game really. Saints played some good football at times, but seemed intent on giving a poor Norwich side every possible opportunity to get something from the match. It was baffling to see so many individual mistakes from so many different players. James Ward-Prowse took quite a while to adapt to the pace of the game, and Saints were certainly missing that defensive shield that Jack Cork or Victor Wanyama would usually provide. On the other hand Saints looked a bit more fluid going forward with the return of Gaston Ramirez and later with the introduction of a revitalised Rickie Lambert.

Attendance: 29,828 (2,294 Norwich fans)

Match Ratings:

Boruc: 5. Didn't have a lot to do before the final 10 minutes. Distribution fairly poor. Could have done better for at least one of the Canaries goal too

Clyne: 7. Used his pace to good effect. Particularly effective during the first 30 minutes or so

Fonte: 6. Comfortable for most of the game, but made a silly mistake for Norwich's first goal

Lovren: 6. A couple of nervy moments at the back, but overall fairly good. Made a couple of good runs with the ball

Shaw: 7. Trademark direct runs were particularly effective during the first half. Didn't let much get past him

Davis: 7. Helped set up the first and last goal in what was a decent overall display

Schneiderlin: 7. Showed his skill in the middle of the park, and a well-timed run into the box for the goal

Ward-Prowse: 6. Looked very rusty early on, but did improve, with some good cross-field balls

Ramirez: 7. Involved in most of Saints' best attacking moves during the first half. Provided a great assist for the first goal

Lallana: 7. Another solid outing. A lot of clever play in the first half. Marked a lot tighter prior to coming off in the 2nd

Rodriguez: 7. Isolated for much of the first half, but very bright following the introduction of Lambert. Movement within 30 yards of goal very good

Substitutes:

Lambert: 7. Best performance for a while. Displayed a good range of passing and took his goal very well. Combined very well with Rodriguez

Guly: 5. Caused a few problems for Norwich going forward, but misplaced pass led to their second goal

Gallagher: Great to see him get his first Premier League goal