That’s entertainment? Aston Villa’s draw with Southampton was no ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

Originally posted on Metro:

Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne, right, celebrates after scoring against Aston Villa (Picture: AP Photo)

So last night I decided to watch a movie.

It is the tale of two sides battling it out, one protecting it’s home, the other trying to get in to that home and take something that they believe is theirs with minimal fuss. The home side are primitive in style but well organised with a quiet leader, assisted by someone both hairier and more aggressive.

It inevitably becomes a predictable stalemated battle between the sophisticated, modern thinking visitors with their intricate tools and the basic, counter attacking, route one, simple but effective style of the guarding simians.

It is a clash of cultures and one that is a complete mismatch on paper, but the endeavour of the hosts sees them hold their own.

A mistake by the visitors sends the peaceful beginning into a chaotic conclusion. Nobody wins, everybody…

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Aston Villa v Southampton: PPI Preview

Aston Villa host high flying Southampton on Monday night, with Villa sitting two points above the relegation zone while Southampton are enjoying an incredible start to the season in second place.

Villa turned around a run of six straight defeats with a heard earned point against another of the Barclays Premier League’s in form teams, West Ham, in their last outing, and so will feel confident facing West Ham.

That point was earned by a tight Aston Villa defence, including a superb performance by Brad Guzan. Guzan made five saves in the game, the second highest in the last round of games after Sunderland’s Costel Pantilimon. Overall, Guzan is ranked fourth this season for total saves, with 34 in 11 games.

Nathan Baker was another star performer, making 18 clearances, the third highest in the last gameweek. That took Baker’s tally of clearances so far this season to 71, ranked 17th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Ali Cissokho also put in a shift in defence in earning the clean sheet, winning six tackles and not losing out on a single one attempted. Cissokho’s hard work has epitomised his season, having covered the second most miles among the Aston Villa squad with 67.87 miles on the clock so far this season.

Ashley Westwood is the only player in the squad to have covered more ground this season than Cissokho, with 72.34 miles covered, the 14th highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. That feat is made all the more remarkable when you consider that Westwood is the only player in the top 25 for distance covered to have played ten games rather than 11 this season. Averaging 7.23 miles, he’s ranked sixth for average distance covered per game.

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Much may have been made of Villa’s struggle to score goals, but fans may be surprised to hear that Weimann’s conversion rate this season is on a par with that of Sergio Aguero. Weimann has averaged 3.67 shots per goal this season – exactly the same as the Argentine hitman, and significantly better than Monday’s rival Graziano Pelle who averages 6.67 shots per goal. The stats show that if Weimann is given shooting opportunities then he is as reliable as any striker in the Barclays Premier League at putting the ball in the back of the net. Weimann is 10/1 to score first with 888sport.com.

Southampton have defied all expectations this season, sitting in second place after eleven games and four points above Manchester City despite losing a number of players over the summer.

Graziano Pelle was known for his free scoring in the Eredivise, and his continued this in the Barclays Premier League. Pelle has scored six goals this season from 40 shots on goal with 26 on target. Averaging 6.67 shots per goal, the Italian striker is not afraid to have a shot when the opportunity arises, though his conversion rate is not as clinical as some strikers.

Pelle’s goals have certainly helped Southampton’s rise up the league, but their defensive qualities have given him license to get forward. Nathaniel Clyne has won more tackles than any other players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 55. To put that in context, the second ranked player (Crystal Palace’s Mile Jedinak) has won 46. Pelle is 11/9 to score with 888sport.com.

Incredibly, Southampton have three of the top five players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for tackles won. As well as Clyne, Morgan Schneiderlin is ranked third with 43 won and Victor Wanyama fifth with 39.

Schneiderlin is also the engine room of the Southampton team, having covered more ground than any other player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 83.44 miles. Aston Villa shouldn’t expect too much time on the ball against this defensively tough and hard working side.

Interestingly, Southampton only have one player in the top 30 for interceptions (Jose Fonte ranked 8th with 30) showing that Koeman’s side prefer to allow their opponents to receive the pass and then make a tackle, rather than attempt an interception and risk being caught out of place.

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Why would Nathaniel Clyne leave Southampton for a ‘stepping stone’ club like Liverpool?

Originally posted on Metro:

Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne has been linked with Liverpool (Picture: Getty Images)

So that’s that then. Nathaniel Clyne plays two games for England, shows the rest of the country what Saints fans have been saying for two years, and immediately he is being coveted by Liverpool.

This is getting beyond a joke now isn’t it?

Does Brendan Rodgers not realise that there are other places he can look at players apart from St Mary’s and Wembley?

I’m hoping  Clyne has got his head screwed on and avoids any interest from the Reds like the plague, the evidence that he has is there, given that he turned down Manchester United for a regular starting berth with Southampton.

Liverpool’s massive overachieving of last season has come to a head with the loss of Luis Suarez and, despite spending the best part of £120 million, find themselves with Glen Johnson as a realistic selection…

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Southampton beating Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur to Champions League place would be good for English football

Originally posted on Metro:

Shane Long scored twice for Southampton in the win over Leicester (Picture: Getty Images)

They think its all over…..but is it?

This is an odd situation for a Southampton fan to find themselves in. Our popularity that grew as we defied the summer predictions of doom and gloom has peaked and now it is on the wane. Plaudits from fans of other clubs have downgraded from ‘What Southampton are doing is brilliant’ to ‘Wow, how long can Saints keep this up for?’ to ‘Come on guys, you are taking the mick now’ in quick succession.

This is especially coming from the fans of clubs like Liverpool and Spurs, after all it is their coveted fourth place Champions League position that is under threat. The internet memes have changed from mockery at the player exodus to laughter at the expense of Brendan Rodgers to lists of the club’s next ten fixtures…

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Has anyone noticed that Southampton still exist?

Originally posted on Metro:

Shane Long celebrates his goal against Leicester City (Picture: Getty Images)

In the face of adversity football fans usually come into their own. Gallows humour sets in and the wit of the terraces deals with the issues of the day.

Once Shane Long had converted a wretched, sloppy 0-0 stalemate into another impressive victory for Southampton’s the Northam Stand made their point. ‘Where’s all our players gone’ was closely followed by ‘The Saints are staying up’ and then the real kick in the teeth for the Summer’s naysayers ‘We’re going to win the league’. St. Mary’s, in the pouring rain was jumping.

Perhaps though the next song in the repertoire should have been ‘We are Southampton, we don’t even exist’. Seemingly everyone in football bar Jose Mourinho is refusing to accept that right now Saints are title challengers. The headlines were all about Mourinho’s Chelsea extending their lead over Manchester City…

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Southampton v Leicester City: EA PPI Preview

Southampton have continued their charge at the top of the table, by yet again winning last weekend, away at Hull City. Southampton sit four points off Chelsea at the top of the league, and fans may well be starting to believe that they can genuinely push for a continental qualification spot. It is 1/8 with 888sport for Southampton to win against Leicester.

Morgan Schneiderlin has been extremely impressive in central midfield this season, and it is no wonder why he was highly coveted in the summer. The Frenchman has made the seventh most passes in the opposition half out of any player in the Premier League, with 330. In addition to this, Schneiderlin the most ground out of anyone in the league, averaging a distance of 12.21km per game, making him the only player to have averaged above 12km per game.

Victor Wanyama managed to get himself on the scoresheet for Southampton against Hull last weekend, and the midfielder has an impressive set of statistics to back up his goal. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that Wanyama has completed 100% of the dribbles he has attempted so far this season (6). Wanyama has also completed 88.02% of his passes successfully this season.

Nathaniel Clyne was this week called up to the England squad, and on the basis of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index it is thoroughly deserved. The fullback has made the greatest number of successful tackles in the entire Premier League with 50. What is more impressive, is that in doing so, Clyne has only made five fouls, in comparison to those in second and third place who have made 25 and 20 fouls respectively.

Leicester have made the best start to the season of the promoted sides, however still sit in 18th place on nine points. The game against Southampton is set to be a tough challenge, but one that Nigel Pearson will believe he can come out of with a good result.

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Leicester have now been unable to score in their last three Premier League games and will be looking to Leonardo Ulloa to help end the drought. The forward started the season in scintillating form but has been unable to help Leicester in their last three games. Ulloa still boasts an impressive scoring record of a goal every 155 minutes, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Ulloa is 17/2 to score first with 888sport.

Wes Morgan has continued his impressive form at the back, despite the team’s form. The Leicester captain has now made 96 clearances, which is the fifth highest total of any Premier League player, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Morgan has also made 14 blocks which is the second greatest of any player in the division too.

Ritchie De Laet’s total of 36 successful tackles is the fifth highest total in the league according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Alongside Morgan, they will be hoping to solidify the defence further this weekend, in order to keep the attacking talent of Southampton at bay.

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“Data supplied by the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Select and manage your own team of stars with at http://fantasy.premierleague.com or with FIFA Ultimate team.”

How Southampton’s Markus Liebherr pavilion will be the foundation for future glory

Originally posted on Metro:

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Southampton’s new facility will help bring through the next generation of players (Picture: Southampton FC)

Wednesday marked the opening of the new Markus Liebherr pavilion at Southampton’s Staplewood training ground, and I was lucky enough to receive a guided tour that evening.

The building has been a long term project, a product of the vision of the late Herr Liebherr and it’s naming is an understated tribute to a humble, understated man.

It is perfectly fitting that the centre of excellence that will oversee the progress of generations of future football stars is named after the man who oversaw the progression of this great football club.

When I got the message on Twitter that I was one of the lucky winners of the #SaintsJob competition I felt like Charlie Bucket tearing open his Wonka bar and revealing a ‘Golden Ticket’, it is rare that supporters get the chance to go behind…

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Great South Run Prizes: Winners Announced!

Well I did it, slowly and in a considerable amount of pain (Sorry Doc) but I got round the Great South Run and crossed the finish line.

Thank you to everyone who sponsored me. It really is appreciated and the money will be put to good use by the Saints Foundation!

As promised I have picked names at random (in one case there was only one entry!) and the following people have won these prizes:-

georgeweahscousin.com T-shirt:-

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The winner is…..

Mohammed Al-Talib! Congratulations!

Everton Ball:-

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The winner is…..

Natalie Harvey! Congratulations!

Southampton Ball:-

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The winner is…..

Sam McDonald! Congratulations!

All winners will be contacted by e-mail!

Thanks again to everyone who made a donation.

Chris

Savile Rogue Socks Competition Winner Announced!

Apologies for the delayed announcement, but the Savile Rogue Luxury Socks competition winner has been picked!

The #RogueSaint was of course…..

……Ecuadorian birthday whiner Agustin Delgado!

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Congratulations to @Mordwand who was picked at random from all those who tweeted the correct answer with the hashtag #RogueSaint!

You have won a pair of these luxury cashmere socks in Saints colours courtesy of Savile Rogue!

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Please contact @gwcdotcom via DM or e-mail chris@georgeweahscousin.com with your size and postal details.

Disappointment for everyone else I’m sure, but don’t worry…..

…..we are all winners here, and Savile Rogue have rewarded you all for your interest with a special georgeweahscousin.com discount code. Just use the promotional code “WEAH10” at checkout to receive 10% discount at their online store.

Thanks to everyone who took part!

Chris

 

Why Southampton’s rise isn’t that much of a fairy tale

Originally posted on Metro:

Southampton’s players celebrate another goal in their fine start to the season (Picture: AP)

Southampton are currently in their third consecutive season in the Premier League.

That’s already more time than they spent in League One back in 2009-2011, in fact of the last 36 seasons, they have spent just two season’s in the third tier, and 29 in the top flight,

So can we stop going on about it now?

Sure, the drop into League One was a wake up call for Saints fans, and really made us appreciate what we had perhaps taken for granted; but make no mistake, the return to the Premier League is no coincidence. This is a Premier League club and back where it belongs.

That doesn’t stop every reflective writer and journalist (I’ve done it myself) state with disbelief at the current position of the club ‘They used to be in League One…

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