Southampton struggle to fire in draw
To say Southampton's opening home game of the season, a 0-0 draw against West Brom on Saturday, wasn't a classic would be an understatement. In fact, the surprising lack of empty seats in both the home and away stands eerily suggested that the fans of both clubs might have seen it coming.
After all the promise and good feeling surrounding Saints after a decent performance in defeat at Anfield on the opening weekend, there was a serious low at the final whistle at St. Mary's, despite the club's first point of the season. While Ronald Koeman's team had shown promise in Liverpool and undoubtedly deserved something from the game, they looked lacklustre and devoid of attacking threat on Saturday, deserving absolutely nothing.
It is, of course, early in the Dutchman's tenure, and his new-look side are likely going to take time to jell before any sort of positive consistency gets going, but they are going to have to learn fast in a cutthroat division. Were it not for Fraser Forster's impressive home debut in goal, they could easily have suffered a second consecutive defeat.
It wasn't that Saints were particularly bad, they just never looked like they were interested in finding the back of the net and, despite some inventive play from Dusan Tadic, looked completely toothless up front. Graziano Pelle took the brunt of the criticism, and as the central striker in the side, that is perhaps fair enough. Despite being prolific in the Eredivisie, the Italian looks completely out of place in the Premier League, and though it is way too soon to write him off, he will need to adapt quickly. Cumbersome in possession, off the pace and having been dominated in the air despite his size, it was a home debut to forget for Pelle, who may need a goal to get his confidence flowing.
Defensively, Saints were steady, but when your attacking play isn't producing, it only takes a half chance for your opponents to make it a miserable afternoon. Thankfully for Saints, Forster was equal to the challenge on the chances the Baggies did have, and the goalkeeper saved his team a point with a brilliant save from Brown Ideye at the death.
Koeman said after the game that his side lacked tempo, and no one who saw the game would disagree with him. The high-energy performances of last season have gone, and as the new manager imposes his style on the team, the Southampton fans are going to have to show a level of patience. It is not new for this team to struggle to find the net -- it was often the same in the last campaign -- but right now it would seem they are missing the cutting edge of the likes of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana or, even more importantly, Jay Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is still a Saints player, of course, and his return from injury can't come soon enough. His spark was exactly what the team was missing against West Brom, and last season's top scorer could have a crucial impact for Koeman if he is still wearing the famous shirt at the end of the transfer window.