14 Apr 2018 18:03:48
Just like last week, it's really hard to know what to think of today's game. 70 mins of exactly what we've wanted to see, and then all undone in 20.

Biggest positive for me is that not only did we outplay Chelsea for most of the game, but the fire and passion from the players was great to see. I think Hojbjerg might be my new favourite person in the world.

The truth is if not for some really spineless and incompetent refereeing, the 70 good minutes would have been enough to get us the win. Sure, we should have won despite Mike Dean's shortcomings, but still, we were unlucky.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm just so fed up of games being decided by referees' lack of backbone. He was too weak to send off Alonso despite staring directly at the incident. He was too weak to make Chelsea retake a kick twice, despite the second actually being further away from the spot of the foul than the first! In midweek we saw Michael Oliver decide to play god and decide a game by giving a penalty that he would never have given if that game was being played in Turin instead of Madrid. Referees will make mistakes, and I don't mind that. They can't see everything. But many of them simply need to grow a pair.

1.) 14 Apr 2018
14 Apr 2018 18:39:35
As you say, we played very well for most of the game. It took a little while for us to find our feet after a cautious start allowing Chelsea too much space, but once we scored from our first shot, we settled down and played with our tails up. We battled well, were stronger and won most of the 50-50s. The anticipation and pressing was strong and we won the ball back and posed a threat on the counter.

Chelsea came out better in the second half but didn’t create anything really and then we scored a second and it looked like we had done enough to win. What a goal by Bednarek by the way. He had a very good game considering what we’ve seen of him so far and this his premier league debut. Chelsea had offered so little threat after the first goal and the second should have been a killer.

It was Conte’s decision to bring on Giroud that turned the game in Chelsea’s favour. But they won because Saints failed to react and manage the game when Chelsea got a goal back. After the Arsenal draw, I think I both admire and hate Giroud in equal measure. We have a nemesis and his name is Olivier. We switched off at the freekick despite Fabregas having to reset and take it a second time and Giroud was perfectly placed between Bednarek and Hoedt. Alonso (who shouldn’t have been on the pitch) crossed perfectly to bisect our defenders so Bednarek couldn’t head clear and Hoedt couldn’t get goal side of Giroud. JWP should’ve moved over to mark Alonso rather than concentrating more on the referee and the players behind him. Hoedt should’ve taken responsibility for Giroud as with Bednarek watching the cross, he couldn’t see Giroud. Hoedt could watch the cross and the runner. Anyway, it was a good finish but not the end of the world.

The problem was that we then needed to take the sting out of Chelsea, keep the ball, up our work rate which had dropped in the second half. Instead, we sat deeper and invited Chelsea onto us. Some goalmouth pinball later and Bertrand drifted in to mark the far post rather than spotting Hazard stood in space 5 yards away from him. He was ball watching and when the cross came in, Hazard had the time to control and get his shot away.

Rather than reacting positively, we again sat and invited Chelsea on as MH discussed at great length with his assistant what they should do to change things. If he decided on an answer it came to late as he looked up from his play sheet to see Chelsea score their winner. Another set piece, another round of goalmouth pinball, with Hoedt and Yoshi jumping to head the same ball. Yoshi should instead have stepped out to mark Giroud but instead, the Frenchman was left free to stab home his second and Chelsea’s winner. Game, set and match in 8 minutes. From 2-0 down. Another game where we conceded three. MH has got us scoring but if we are to retain any hope now of staying up, we can’t keep defending this way.

Yes, Mike Dean should have sent Alonso off. He seemed to have a clear line of sight to the assault but he didn’t even give a freekick so I can only assume he didn’t see it and was watching the ball and the tackle between (I think) Fabregas and Long, rather than Alonso coming in behind him. I have no idea how and why and if he claims not to have seen it, its as damning as if he did see it and failed to act. It also makes absolutely no sense to tell Fabregas to retake a free-kick indicating that it should be 10 yards away, only for him to get the ball back and play from almost exactly the same place once more but this time letting it go. Making Fabregas retake it forced him to play the ball out to the left flank rather than to the right as he initially intended. JWP should have seen the danger but was looking the wrong way. If Mike Dean had made Fabregas to take the kick from the same place, a pass along the left flank would’ve been more obvious and covered by JWP. If Mike Dean had correctly sent off Alonso in the first half, he wouldn’t be crossing the ball to Giroud.

One final note on Michael Oliver, I’m firmly in the camp that agrees with the penalty shout. It wasn’t soft, a foul is a foul. If a player receives the ball on his chest 2 yards from goal and is pushed by a larger defender coming in behind him trying to steal the ball then it’s a foul. At full speed, it looked like he was pushed over. The replays aren’t as clear except from one angle which is from the assistant referee’s side but a higher angle. There you can clearly see the push comes first and knocks the player forward, before any contact between the defender and the ball. It’s a penalty. You say Michael Oliver was a coward for giving it but look at the reaction. He was very brave to give it given the stage of the game and the contest and a weaker person would claim not to have seen it and turned a blind eye. Real Madrid had screwed the game themselves and Oliver owed them nothing and I doubt he felt pressure to do so. He had managed the game and Real Madrid’s dives throughout the game well. He wouldn’t suddenly change his mind or his approach to suit them.

2.) 14 Apr 2018
14 Apr 2018 22:16:14
Oh and with the wisdom of hindsight, MH will hopefully be slower to sub JWP. His set piece delivery had been good all game, he had an assist and we're chasing a game making set piece delivery crucial. The two attacking freekicks we had after JWP left the pitch were awful.

3.) 15 Apr 2018
15 Apr 2018 11:27:46
Watch out for retrospective action against Marcos.
Hopefully in time for next Sun. He deserves a ban!

4.) 15 Apr 2018
15 Apr 2018 12:32:06
I get that the Michael Oliver one isn’t as clear cut as I think it is, but I do stand by what I said. no way does he give that in Turin.

Also agree on JWP. His set piece delivery is so good that he needs to play 90 mins of every game. You never know what will happen, and we lose one of our biggest threats when he’s not on the pitch. I wish JWP would step up his general play like we all know he can so that he makes himself undroppable even without his set piece prowess.

5.) 15 Apr 2018
15 Apr 2018 14:42:26
Yeah, JWP remains a frustrating player. He’s had good exposure over the last season or two and yet still doesn’t fit into our system. He doesn’t seem to have the vision or intelligence to be an attacking creative player like Kevin De Bruyne, despite good technique. Perhaps, like De Bruyne he will develop a little later, but if he doesn’t have the imagination, I’m not sure its something you can teach.

He also lacks the stamina, physical presence and defensive mindset of a deep lying playmaker at the moment. Stamina and physical presence can be learned, as can defensive reading of the game, but will his passing skillset be utilised in such deep areas of the pitch if he’s breaking up play and likely surrounded by opposition players?

So he’s stuck between a couple of positions really. He hasn’t the pace or trickery of a winger so he’s best suited to a more central role, but finding pockets of space from which to affect play. He would really benefit from some additional coaching to help identify his best position in our system and get him to learn how he can start to control the tempo of games and contribute more in his 90 minutes than getting goals and assists from set-pieces.

6.) 15 Apr 2018
15 Apr 2018 16:55:50
Agree Figo. Personally I think he’s a perfect RM in a 4-4-2, much like Beckham or Bentley (before things went wrong for him) used to be, but he plays in an era when this position simply isn’t part of football. I think if you play him deep you waste his biggest asset: crossing the ball.

Best role for him in modern football is probably the KDB role, and I’d like to see him get a real shot at making that role his own. As much exposure as he’s had to first team football for his age, he’s never really been the centrepiece, but rather a bit part player played too deep or out on the wing, and without a true run in the team.

7.) 16 Apr 2018
16 Apr 2018 08:34:19
It was a disheartening game to watch, to watch a 2-0 lead be destroyed in 10 minutes wasn't just. And knowing that Marcus Alonso has got away with that horrible tackle, shows it was an unfair afternoon. I just MH could have done more to prevent this from happening. Before the first goal, should he have looked at bringing on Lemina for Tadic all JWP, this would have ensured more defensive cover.
I've said it before with JWP, we should have tried to get him out on loan to give him some valuable first time experience. As at the moment his set piece deliveries don't quite make up what he lacks, but his deliveries were ace on Saturday. Not one bad delivery.

8.) 18 Apr 2018
18 Apr 2018 14:14:21
I'd say his set pieces make up for what he lacks enough to play every game personally. Unfortunately they just don't make up for what the Saints collectively lack aha.