Southampton’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end after suffering an embarrassing home defeat against Watford.
Mauricio Pellegrino handed a debut to Wesley Hoedt who recently signed from Serie A side Lazio, as well as bringing in James Ward-Prowse and Sofiane Boufal in place of Mario Lemina and Dusan Tadic respectively.
It was Watford who had the first chance of any note as Boufal barged into Kiko Femenia and conceded a free kick in an extremely dangerous central position. It was Greek international José Holebas who stepped up, but the ball went just wide of Fraser Forster’s post.
After 30 minutes of play, Southampton were yet to have a shot on goal and were being dominated by Watford, who had a whopping 62% possession. And soon, they made that dominance count after a dodgy clearance by Jack Stephens bounced towards Abdoulaye Doucoure. His shot from 25 yards out was well placed beyond a stretching Forster.
On the brink of half time, Doucoure had another chance from outside the box as the lively Brazilian Richarlison produced a low cross into the box for Andre Gray. He flicked the ball nicely into the path of Doucoure whose shot could only find Row Z of the Chapel Stand.
Pellegrino made a change at half time, bringing on Tadic for James Ward-Prowse.
Southampton’s first “attempt” on goal came in the 55th minute by Boufal. After some good work on the ball, he cut onto his left foot and attempted to curl it into the corner, but the eventual shot ended up in Row Z.
However, Watford increased their goal advantage to 2-0 in the 66th minute, thanks to another shot from distance. Hoedt’s clearance was headed by Tom Cleverley into the path of the substitute Daryl Janmaat, whose shot was blasted past Forster into the corner, despite a touch from the England international.
Despite the introduction of Charlie Austin and Shane Long, Southampton failed to give them any service and Long’s high work rate was unrewarded because of the lack of support from his teammates.
Southampton registered their first and only shot on target in the 92nd minute, which was greeted by ironic cheers around a half-full St Mary’s. It was a long distance, optimistic swing of the foot by Cedric, which was comfortably held by the veteran keeper Heurelho Gomes.
Southampton face Crystal Palace next at Selhurst Park, who themselves are experiencing an awful start under new boss Frank de Boer.
Saints fans are very worried about Southampton’s lack of goals and abysmal conversion rate, which was 10% even before the Watford game.
Fans will also question Pellegrino’s team selection. Maybe it’s time we see more rotation and formation changes, maybe even going to a two up-front formation to offer Manolo Gabbiadini more support.