Good afternoon all! The second week of the new Premier League season is upon us, and right here we'll be focusing on the clash between Southampton
in the South of England.
St Mary's hosts today's encounter, with Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino
able to keep up the club's 100% record with another win today. '100% record' sounds impressive, but keep in mind that there's only been one round of matches in the campaign so far...
A late penalty from Southampton's man of the moment (well, last week's man of the moment) Rickie Lambert ensured all three points for the club against West Bromwich Albion. However, it has been a different story on Wearside.
Paolo Di Canio
's Sunderland side succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Fulham, who are currently 2-0 down
to Arsenal in today's early kickoff, at the Stadium of Light. It's not the beginning that Di Canio would have hoped for, but he can be encouraged by the performances from new signings Cabral, Jozy Altidore and Emanuele Giaccherini
So, the Black Cats will be eager to get some points on the board today. Anyway, the team news is in from the home side, so let's take a look...
SOUTHAMPTON XI: Boruc; Chambers, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw; Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Ward-Prowse, Lallana; Rodriguez, Lambert.
So, Pochettino has named the same starting XI from the West Brom win, but there is a place for new signing Pablo Osvaldo on the bench. The remaining substitutes are: K. Davis, Clyne, S. Davis, Ramírez, Cork, Osvaldo, Hooiveld
SUNDERLAND XI: Westwood; Celustka, O’Shea, Diakite, Colback; Johnson, Larsson, Gardner, Giaccherini; Sessegnon, Altidore
Valentin Roberge has been dropped to the bench following his 'mistake' last weekend, which led to Fulham's goal. Therefore, Modibo Diakite comes into the fold. Craig Gardner also makes the starting lineup at the expense of Cabral. The substitutes are: Mannone, Cabral, Wickham, Vaughan, Ji, Moberg Karlsson, Roberge
So there we have it. Osvaldo is expected to make an appearance for Southampton today after the club secured a record £15m fee for the forward. He's previously described himself as "no angel", but he's definitely got Southampton fans excited!
All you Saints fans out there, have a little look at what the Argentine-born Italy international (yes, that's right) may offer you this season:
Sticking with Southampton, they've made a good start to the season and things seem to be heading in the right direction for the former Championship side. While there was some outcry from fans following the dismissal of ex-manager Nigel Adkins, who has since dropped down a league with Reading, Pochettino has begun molding a decent team. Although, I'm not strictly sure how he's managing to get his views across so well as we can see from numerous interviews that he's still struggling with the English language!
If we look at Sunderland for a moment - it's not been the best start for the Black Cats on the field. It's also not been an ideal situation off the field with regards to Phil Bardsley. It became clear towards the end of last season that Di Canio wasn't keen on the defender, and he made his feelings known after Bardsley was photographed lying with £50 notes all over him while at a casino.
After not being given a squad number for the new campaign, Bardsley wrote online after Sunderland lost their opening game saying: "Great opening day. Hahahhahaha hahahhaha!!!" Hmm, as you can imagine Di Canio was not best pleased, and reports have claimed that Bardsley has been told to stay away from the club.
Enough about matters away from the pitch, it's a huge season for Di Canio on it. It's the Italian's first full term in charge since taking over towards the end of last season. Black Cats fans will be hoping that last week's result was just a blip, and I'm sure Di Canio will be thinking the same, as he has been given the green light to sign 11 players so far in this window.
What can we say about previous meetings between the two sides? If I just get my little book of stats out! Sunderland have the upper hand in terms of fixtures at St Mary's. They've won four of their last six trips to the coast.
However, last season's meeting at St Mary's was the first time that the two clubs had met in the Premier League in 10 years! The game ended with a slender 1-0 win for Sunderland.
While Sunderland have had some good fortune at St Mary's it's worth keeping in mind that the Black Cats are without a victory in five league games stretching back to mid-April. However, anything can happen on the day! Hopefully this afternoon's encounter will be pleasing on the eye, but I don't expect many goals. We'll see with around five minutes to go until kickoff!
The teams are out and we are seconds from getting the game underway!
GAME ON! Southampton get the match underway kicking from right to left.
DISALLOWED GOAL! Southampton fans went from cheers to groans as Rodriguez is denied a swift equaliser. Lambert manages to drop into a deeper position to retireve the ball and feed it perfectly into the feet of Rodriguez, who slots it into the bottom corner, but he was rightfully ruled offside.
What a start to the game, it's end to end stuff at the moment. Southampton knock the ball back and forth between midfield with Lallana, who moves the ball out to Shaw, but his cross into the box gets blocked.
It's Sunderland's turn now as Johnson drives down the flanks with the help of Sessegnon, but Southampton regain possession through Wanyama, but he's put under pressure and his move is snuffed out. Southampton fans are in full voice here trying to urge their team back into the game.
Schneiderlin's ball gets nicked by Giaccherini, but he was flying in too quickly and his ball towards Altidore goes wayward. The home side cannot afford to give away possession in the middle of the park. Seconds later Shaw also gave the ball away, but fortunately for Southampton it came to nothing. They just need to calm down a bit now.
Southampton have managed to calm down proceedings as they're having the majority of possession now. They're awarded a free kick a few yards from the edge of the area with Lambert stepping up to take it. It's a poor effort though and goes straight into the wall.
SAVE! A good low stop from Westwood prevents Lambert from equalising. A pin-point cross from Ward-Prowse finds the head of the England international, who aims the ball into the bottom left-hand corner, but Westwood dives to the floor to keep the ball out.
So close for Sunderland! Larsson whips the ball from the corner into the box, but Boruc is there to punch the ball clear and prevent a 2-0 deficit. While Southampton have control of the match at this moment, Sunderland do pose a threat on the counter.
CHANCE! Southampton are piling on the pressure here! Ward-Prowse manages to get past a number of Sunderland shirts and into the box. After some scrappy play, the ball falls freely to Rodriguez, who shoots the ball goal-bound, but gets deflected for a corner, which comes to nothing.
Ward-Prowse gets cautioned for a drag back on Colback. The youngster gets frustrated while pursuing the ball and just pulls the shirt of Colback as his opponent gets away from him.
We're half an hour in and the intensity of this game has yet to quiet down. Southampton are in control of the game, but Sunderland look dangerous on set pieces. The danger for the home side is that they are getting a bit frustrated at times, which is causing some players to launch unnecessary tackles.
BOOKING! Gardner, who is just back from suspension, makes a silly challenge on Shaw. The midfielder has no right to go for the ball, but he clatters into the Southampton man and gets himself a caution for his troubles.
Southampton look a bit shaky in defence as Altidore dinks past a number of red shirts to get a shot in, but his effort is miss-hit and the home side survive.
Southampton players and fans appeal for a penalty as a free kick from Ward-Prowse is whipped into the box. The ball completely misses everyone and bounces behind the line, but Fonte believes that he's been brought down unfairly, but the referee Lee Mason is having none of it.
CHANCE! Another impressive move from Southampton. Ward-Prowse is involved again as he sends a perfect cross into the box. It meets the head of Lambert, who drifts back to find space, but his effort grazes offer the bar.
Sunderland get a spell of possession, but a long pass towards Altidore gets snuffed out by red shirts. While the visitors look a threat in the final third, it's getting in the final third that they're struggling with!
HALF-TIME: Southampton 0-1 Sunderland
The first half has ended with Sunderland in front, but Southampton headed into the dressing room angry after referee Mason dismissed calls of a penalty from Lallana. The Saints skipper felt that he was tugged down in the box, but after watching the replay, you could suggest that Lallana backed into the defender.
Putting the refereeing decisions aside, Southampton have played well on home turf. They've created chances, but that clinical edge has been missing - could Osvaldo make the difference on his debut? We'll see if Pochettino throws him in during the second half.
As for Sunderland, they have looked threatening when they get into that final third, but they need to give more support to Altidore up front to save him from being isolated up there. Di Canio, who was unusually calm when Sunderland took an early lead, will be urging his team to get a second at the start of the next half.
Southampton are definitely not out of this game yet though, so the second half could be an exciting one!
We have some changes for this second half, Osvaldo has come on for his debut and Ji Dong-Won enters the field for Sunderland.
SECOND HALF UNDERWAY! And Sunderland get us going in the next 45 minutes.
An early chance for Sunderland comes Ji's way. Johnson clips the ball over the top to find his teammate, but it's a lacklustre effort from the substitute, who drills the ball into the hands of Boruc.
That was close! Some lovely intricate play from Southampton at the other end leaves Lallana in the box with a shot on goal, but Diakite makes a well-timed tackle to keep the Black Cats in front.
As expected, Southampton have come out firing as they try to get an equaliser. Sunderland will have to weather the storm in these first 10 minutes or so if they want to stay on top.
They're getting closer! A layoff from Lambert bounces towards the oncoming Lallana, who connects with the ball on the volley, but his effort just scrapes wide. A minute later Ward-Prowse, who has moved into the middle of midfield, takes a shot from 20 yards out, but it goes flying wide.
SUBSTITUTION. Di Canio makes his second change of the match by bringing in Vaughan, while Colback makes way.
At the other end of the pitch, Johnson brings himself into play by storming towards the edge of the area and unleashing a powerful shot towards goal, but it just clips over the bar. Southampton may be having the majority of play, but Sunderland prove that they are still a threat when in the right areas.
CHANCE! It should be 1-1, but Rodriguez fails to make the most of a great cross into the box from Osvaldo. The ball meets Rodriguez's head, but he knocks the ball straight into the hands of Westwood.
SAVE! Lambert gets involved again as he launches a great strike goal-bound, but Westwood dives to his right to knock the ball out for a corner, which comes to nothing.
Wanyama has been impressive in midfield for Southampton today. He's proving to be a great acquisition for Pochettino. While he may not be involved in all of the chances, he's been solid in midfield and kept the game flowing for the home side.
Wanyama drives the ball out wide to Lallana, who fails to make his way through Sunderland shirts in the box. Southampton regain possession through Lambert, who hammers the ball down towards goal, but once again, Westwood is there.
Some wonderful control from Rodriguez as he receives the ball from just outside the area, but he's slightly leaning back when he launches the shot and it flies over the bar. He may end up regretting those missed chances earlier on in the contest as we progress nearer to the full-time whistle.
SUBSTITUTION Captain Adam Lallana gets brought off to a standing ovation, with Gaston Ramirez taking his place on the field.
We have around 20 minutes left for Southampton to get something out of this game. They're throwing everything at Sunderland and have some great attacking threats out there, now with the arrival of Ramirez, but their efforts just aren't coming off at the moment.
Could something come from this? Ramirez gets knocked off his stride by O'Shea and gets a free kick just outside the area. It looks as though Lambert is lining up to take it...
Did Lambert save the day again?! No. He manages to get the ball over the wall, but unfortunately for the Liverpool-born striker, he gets it over the crossbar too.
Sunderland get a rare spell of possession courtesy of some sloppy play from Southampton. After knocking the ball around the middle of the park, the visitors try to feed in Altidore, who is stood up front on his own, but he fails to get on the ball and Southampton begin a fresh attack.
Surely a foul! Gardner is lucky not to be given a second yellow there. The midfielder slams into Ramirez on the edge of the area, while the Uruguayan tries to go around him, but Mason says no foul. I have to say that the referee has got it wrong there.
CHANCE! Lambert makes a great header across goal to find new boy Osvaldo, but it bounces in front of him and goes behind for a goal kick. Osvaldo is left raging though as he feels that O'Shea nudged him in the back. However, Mason begs to differ.
BOOKING! He's made his debut, but Osvaldo has also got his way into the book. Mason brandishes a yellow card after the forward clipped the heels of Diakite.
Well, I think it's safe to say that Osvaldo is a fiery character! He gets a warning from Mason instead of a second yellow and sending off after lunging into a challenge.
Sunderland get a free kick in a good area - a yard from the corner of the box. Larsson steps up to take the set piece, but it fires straight into the wall.
GOAL! Southampton 1-1 Sunderland (Fonte)
Southampton seem to enjoy getting these late goals! With just two minutes to go Ward-Prowse steps up to take a free kick. He launches the ball into the box and finds the head of Fonte, who knocks the ball into the back of the night, with Westwood failing to reach far enough to hit the ball clear. It's a fully deserved goal for the home side.
The fourth official indicates four minutes of time added on. Will there be a winner?
FULL-TIME: Southampton 1-1 Sunderland
Okay, so a winner couldn't be found, but Southampton have grabbed a much-deserved point for their efforts during the match. It would have been harsh for the home side to come away with nothing, especially considering their performance in the second half. It was another late goal as well, but this time it was Jose Fonte
, who leaped for a vital header with just two minutes of the 90 remaining.
Sunderland will be frustrated to lose all three points so late in the game, but Paolo Di Canio
will surely admit himself that today's opponents deserved to get something out of the game.
So there we have it, Southampton have picked up four points from a possible six, while the Black Cats get their first point of the campaign following last week's opening defeat. Thank you for joining me and make sure you stick around at Sports Mole to get all the reports and reactions of all of today's football action. Enjoy!