Southampton suffered an extremely disappointing draw against newly-promoted side Huddersfield at St Mary’s in what was considered a must-win game, and now Saints are being dragged into a relegation battle.
Mauricio Pellegrino made five changes to the side that was defeated by Chelsea. Ryan Bertrand and Cedric were both injured in London so those changes were enforced. Oriol Romeu and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg were dropped as well as Italian striker Manolo Gabbiadini. In their respective places were Matt Targett and Jack Stephens operating as a right-back, although he did start against Chelsea.
In the midfield, Steven Davis and Mario Lemina started and Charlie Austin led the line. Dusan Tadic was also amongst the starting 11. Amid speculation that Virgil van DIjk will leave in January, he was left out of the 18-man squad completely.
Southampton were put under pressure from the off and had a couple of close calls if it weren’t for a good defensive block from Jack Stephens from Aaron Mooy’s shot and a good, reflex save from Fraser Forster onto the crossbar from Christopher Schindler’s header.
But it was the Saints who took the lead through the main man Charlie Austin after 25 minutes. James Ward-Prowse’s corner was flicked on by Wesley Hoedt and Austin was at the back post to nod the Saints into the lead.
Minutes later, Austin seemed fortunate to still be on the pitch. After chasing the ball, which Huddersfield ‘keeper Jonas Lossl comfortably gathered, Austin kept going and seemed to kick the Dane in the face. He has since been charged with violent conduct.
In the second half, Saints should’ve made it 2-0 through Austin after Nathan Redmond broke away and cut the ball back to the forward, who was open in the middle of the box, but his shot went narrowly wide. Minutes later, Austin was substituted due to what seemed to be a hamstring injury and he will be a huge miss for the Saints.
To be expected, Saints didn’t take their chances and Huddersfield were level after 65 minutes. The one player who should’ve been man marked was left completely open between Maya Yoshida and Stephens and to say the defending was awful is an understatement. Probably the easiest header that Laurent Depoitre will ever score in his career and it was embarrassing to watch.
In the dying stages of the game, Yoshida himself was in acres of open space, but his headed attempt struck the post.
Saints will now head into the festive period with one win in ten, two in fourteen, which simply isn’t good enough. With the likes of trips to Spurs and Manchester United, it will be hard to rack up more points and Saints will end up in a relegation fight, unless major changes are made, starting with the manager and maybe even the hierarchy.