Southampton put in an embarrassing performance against fellow strugglers Newcastle United in another six-pointer, and now they find themselves in trouble once again.
James Ward-Prowse and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg were introduced back to the starting 11 by Mauricio Pellegrino and despite all the talk of attacking intent and playing two up-front, Guido Carrillo was still the lone striker and Manolo Gabbiadini was still benched.
But for the travelling fans, they watched the Saints concede within two minutes. Jonjo Shelvey’s lobbed ball into the box was well controlled by Kenedy, who swivelled around Cedric and finished past Alex McCarthy.
25 minutes later, Newcastle nearly made it 2-0 and Saints were handing it to them on a plate. Firstly, a lack of communication between Wesley Hoedt and McCarthy meant that the Dutchman had to play it out of the defence. He passed the ball to Mario Lemina, who wasn’t given many options from his team-mates, and the midfielder was dispossessed by Mo Diamé and Dwight Gayle was clean through on goal, but McCarthy made a good save.
Minutes later though, Newcastle doubled their lead through Kenedy once again, and it was from a Saints corner. Florian Lejeune cleared the initial corner and it came to Lemina, who slipped during his attempted shot on goal. Ayoze Perez then proceeded to run at the Southampton defence without fear and his lay-off to Gayle was perfect. The striker unselfishly squared the ball to Kenedy, who comfortably finished into an empty net to make it 2-0.
Into the second half, Newcastle were still on top, and they made it three on the brink of the hour mark through Matt Ritchie from long-range and again the defence was nowhere to be seen. Shelvey was given too much space on the edge of the box and was allowed to square the ball to Ritchie, who was in acres of space to slot the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Southampton’s only real opportunity came in the 76th minute, and it was through the young substitute Josh Sims, who had a shot from the edge of the box. Ultimately, it was a comfortable save for Martin Dubravka.
This was Southampton’s worst performance of the season and as Pellegrino said, they didn’t represent club values and Hojbjerg didn’t hold back in his interview, saying that players had to look at themselves and perform much better.
Who knows whether Pellegrino will still be in charge for the next fixtures, which include a trip to Wigan in the FA Cup quarter-finals, and then in the league, a trip to fellow strugglers and self-destructive West Ham United.
Time is ticking on Southampton’s time in the Premier League, and drastic changes will need to be made throughout the club to not only survive, but re-build should we go down. Even if we stay up, changes will need to be made.