Saints held at Fulham

By SFC Media time Sat 26 Dec Fulham v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson
Sat 26 Dec 3PM
Premier League
Fulham
0
Southampton
0
De Cordova-Reid (38') Zambo Anguissa (75')
yellow card
Referee: Darren England | Venue: Craven Cottage | Attendance: 0

Southampton were held to a goalless draw at Fulham on Boxing Day in the Premier League.

The first of three games in nine days, Saints went closest to breaking the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes as James Ward-Prowse struck the post with a trademark free-kick.

Finishing strongly in the capital, the visitors thought they’d found a winner in he 84th minute when Theo Walcott fired home, only for a VAR review to force Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side into a share of the spoils.

Disrupted by injury concerns coming into the weekend, Hasenhüttl made four changes to his starting eleven.

Summer signing Ibrahima Diallo was awarded a first Saints start in place of the suspended Oriol Romeu, whilst Jack Stephens replaced the in-form Jannik Vestergaard who dropped from the squad with a knee injury.

Joining the Dane on the sidelines, top scorer Danny Ings missed out with a hamstring complaint, with veteran striker Shane Long given a first start of the season to partner Ché Adams.

Walcott dropped into midfield to accommodate, with Stuart Armstrong preferred to Moussa Djenepo on the opposite wing.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: James Ward-Prowse of Southampton during the Premier League match between Fulham and Southampton at Craven Cottage on December 26, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
James Ward-Prowse went closest to scoring in the first-half (Photo: Matt Watson)

Fulham had absentees of their own, most notably manager Scott Parker who was not present in the dugout due to a member of his household testing positive for Covid-19.

Making three changes to his side from afar, Harrison Reed started against his former employees, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ivan Cavaleiro also restored.

Having lost just one of their last five matches coming into the festive affair, Fulham controlled the opening quarter-of-an-hour against a Saints side missing their usual fizz and vigour.

Threatening mostly through Ademola Lookman, a tame deflected effort and quickly waved away penalty appeal for handball was as good as it got for the hosts, however.

Plateauing into a more evenly contested affair as the game made it to the midway point of the half, the award of a free-kick 25 yards from goal attracted the attention of master technician Ward-Prowse.

With a sense of anticipation, the midfielder’s trademark whipped attempt looked destined for the top corner, only for a combination of Alphonse Areola and the post to keep the ball out with Adams, off balance, unable to tap in the rebound from close range.

The England international’s spectacular effort was the was the only notable attempt on goal in the opening 45 minutes, as both defensive units reigned supreme in a game lacking the visitors’ usual high-energy approach.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Che Adams of Southampton during the Premier League match between Fulham and Southampton at Craven Cottage on December 26, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Ché Adams chases down a through ball (Photo: Matt Watson)

Greeted by fine drizzle for the second half, both sides attempted to raise the tempo in search of the game’s opening goal.

Fresh from thwarting a breakaway led by Walcott, Antonee Robinson charged down the left before picking out Cavaleiro in the middle, only for the striker to get under the ball and head over Alex McCarthy’s goal in what was Fulham’s best chance to date.

Threating to warm up from what had been a tepid affair, the game began to open up into a more end-to-end affair as the game reached the hour-mark.

Firstly, Long saw a rasping half-volley from 20 yards tipped over by Areola before Lookman’s strike from the edge of the box took a cruel deflection off of Jan Bednarek, wrong-footing McCarthy and only avoiding the far corner by a matter of inches.

Whilst the resulting corner was waiting to be taken, a lengthy VAR check took place after Ola Aina had handled Ryan Bertrand’s cross in the box moments earlier, but after a two-minute elapse time play continued to round off a frantic five-minute spell.  

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the Premier League match between Fulham and Southampton at Craven Cottage on December 26, 2020 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Ryan Bertrand fires the ball forward (Photo: Matt Watson)

Sensing one-goal might be enough for either side, Long reeled off in celebration when he expertly dispatched Ryan Bertrand’s deep cross, only for the linesman’s offside flag on the far side to curtail the celebrations on 77 minutes.

Now mirroring a more familiar performance with a stranglehold on the ball and territory, Hasenhüttl’s side continued to press forward and thought they’d found a winner with a little over five minutes remaining.

Intricate work down the right eventually saw Adams pick out Walcott in the middle who finished with aplomb, but after a VAR consultation the goal was disallowed with Adams found to be narrowly offside in the build-up.

The hosts rallied late themselves with Aleksandar Mitrovic firing just wide, but it was to end a draw in the capital as Saints began their busy lead-up to 2021.

Fulham

Head to Head Stats

Southampton
  • Possession (%)
    47
    comparison angle
    53
  • Shots
    10
    comparison angle
    3
  • Shots on target
    1
    comparison angle
    2
  • Corners
    6
    comparison angle
    3
  • Passes Complete
    238
    comparison angle
    285

Fulham

1
Alphonse Areola (GK)
5
Joachim Andersen (C)
16
Tosin Adarabioyo
34
Ola Aina
15
Ruben Loftus-Cheek
33
Antonee Robinson
29
André-Frank Zambo Anguissa yellow card
21
Harrison Reed
14
Bobby De Cordova-Reid yellow card
replace Aleksandar Mitrovic (83′)
19
Ademola Lookman
replace Neeskens Kebano (90′)
17
Ivan Cavaleiro
10
Tom Cairney
9
Aleksandar Mitrovic
7
Neeskens Kebano
23
Joe Bryan
3
Michael Hector
13
Tim Ream
12
Marek Rodák
4
Denis Odoi
47
Aboubakar Kamara

Southampton

1
Alex McCarthy (GK)
5
Jack Stephens
35
Jan Bednarek
3
Ryan Bertrand
2
Kyle Walker-Peters
27
Ibrahima Diallo
32
Theo Walcott
17
Stuart Armstrong
replace Moussa Djenepo (93′)
8
James Ward-Prowse (C)
10
Che Adams
7
Shane Long
replace Daniel N'Lundulu (92′)
29
Jake Vokins
12
Moussa Djenepo
40
Daniel N'Lundulu
14
Michael Obafemi
22
Mohammed Salisu
20
William Smallbone
23
Nathan Tella
18
Yan Valery
44
Fraser Forster
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