At the St. Mary’s stadium, the away end consisted of vastly empty seats. Perhaps because Burnley have yet to manage even a point away from home this season. Sean Dyche’s men did, however, manage to survive in their game against Southampton, away from home, for nearly the first hour of action.
Neither team predominantly rose above the other during the first half, although the Saints managed to put a few shots on target (quite a few). The story of Burnley could be summed up by Gudmundsson’s disheartened appeal to a penalty kick after Virgil van Dijk sent him tumbling to the floor. Referee Mike Dean didn’t buy it, but it certainly looked like a legitimate foul on the Iceland international.
Southampton came out firing in all cylinders after half-time. Charlie Austin, feeling all dreary from those sitters that he missed in the first-half, decided to put in one this time around. The ball landed on the Englishman’s feet after a mashup in the back from Burnley during a Saints corner, as the defenders failed to clear the ball not once but twice before it was put in by their former hitman.
After that, it was yet another corner that Burnley conceded from, as Nathan Redmond was allowed the time and space to volley a lofted ball that had missed everybody into the bottom left of Tom Heaton’s goal. The goal paid a fine tribute to another mesmerizing performance from the indomitable English winger, and his stock continues to rise after his move from Norwich City this past summer.
The doom-and-gloom further continued to haunt Sean Dyche’s men, as Gudmundsson, the first-half recipient of unfair treatment in the Saints’ box, gave away a penalty in his own area. Sadly enough, this too seemed a harsh and inaccurate call on the Icelander.
Regardless, Austin didn’t fail in his effort to further burn Burnley, and so the game continued. The Clarets, though, finally began to take the initiative and move forward with the ball.
There were some positive passes and crosses put into the box, which, for the most part, did not trouble the Saints too much. However, another corner would prove crucial, as Tadic was seen blocking Ben Mee’s run. Although a violation according to the new rules, it is still another soft call made by Mike Dean.
A penalty was duly awarded to Burnley, and Sam Vokes calmly slotted it home. The goal ended the Saints run of clean sheets—they went a staggering 612 minutes, or 10.2 hours, without conceding a goal—but Claude Puel will understandably be frustrated that his side gave up the initial goal in such a cheap manner.
He will take solace in the fact that his side managed to get on the board three times in one half, as well as the number of chances that the Saints managed to create. Further satisfaction can be derived from the performances of the men in midfield, who genuinely looked like they were enjoying themselves. The trio of Clasie, Romeu, and Davies, coupled with Redmond and Tadic aren’t only effective, but phenomenal to watch. Southampton are not a pushover this season, even after parting with manager Ronald Koeman and key players Sadio Mané and Graziano Pellé. If anything, they look even better.