Rabu, 31 Oktober 2012

Saints second string fall flat

Nigel Adkins: Pressure on

Nigel Adkins made 11 changes to his side for the Capital One Cup clash with Leeds, but was given very little food for thought as the Championship side secured a quarter-final berth with a 3-0 victory.

It was hard to list one Saints player who started the game and emerged with credit, with debutant substitute Lloyd Isgrove the only player to draw praise from his manager.

And, despite shouldering the blame for the loss on the basis of his decision to field a new side, Adkins did concede that those who played will have to carry the consequences as well.

"It was a poor result for us," he said.

"It was a very attacking formation on paper, but on the pitch you have got to go and produce it.

"You're playing for Southampton Football Club, so every game matters. We've got supporters who have travelled, and we've put a team out that I expected to win this game.

"I expect the players to go and perform, so there's obviously going to be c onsequences of the result and performance for many people.

"We've come out to win a game of football. On paper and in theory that was possible, but we haven't produced."

The Saints were hardly allowed to perform by an on-song Leeds, who followed up their third-round defeat of Everton with another top-flight scalp.

Michael Tonge got the ball rolling with a deserved first-half opener, before El-Hadji Diouf and Luciano Becchio's penalty wrapped things up inside the last three minutes.

Having sat on a one-goal lead for the best part of an hour, United should have been looking over their shoulders. It was anything but.

It took Saints until the 70th minute to register a shot at goal - even then it was well wide - as Leeds put their patchy league form behind them in a competition manager Neil Warnock is desperate to win.

"We have talked about getting as far as we can and if we get beat, we get beat," he said.

"I haven't really tried in the cup for a few years."

Warnock was referring to his Sheffield United side's run to the last four of both the FA and League Cups in 2003.

Since then he has shared Adkins' views on rotation, and had sympathy with his opposite number on Tuesday night.

"I've been in Nigel's position at QPR, where you wonder about your team and your Premier League position is more important financially," he said.

"It is a conundrum, but we can only beat who is put in front of us."

Leeds have been drawn at home in all four rounds so far and have a 12-1 aggregate score in their favour.

They are now just a win away from the semi-finals and Warnock is hoping for a meeting with local rivals Bradford.

"That would be nice," he said. "It's great that Bradford have got through, and what about Arsenal coming back like that (beating Reading 7-5, having been 4-0 down)? We have got to be fortunate with the draw."

Nigel Adkins has taken the blame for Southampton's Capital One Cup exit

Nigel Adkins: Took responsibility for Southampton's defeat

Goals from Michael Tonge and El-Hadji Diouf and a Luciano Becchio penalty helped the Championship side to their second successive top-flight scalp, with their 3-0 victory earning them a first quarter-final berth since 1996.

Neil Warnock's men had the run of the park against a below-par Saints side, with Adkins' much-changed line-up unable to find sanctuary from their dismal Premier League form.

But having lost to Tottenham just over 48 hours ago, Adkins was of the opinion that he could not have put his first-team players through another tough workout and accepted the responsibility for the collapse.

"We didn't perform anywhere near what's expected of a Southampton Football Club team," he said.

"Forty-eight hours ago we had a high-intensity game and I made the relevant changes. I take full responsibility. We wanted to play tomorrow, but the powers that be wanted it to be tonight.

"But we gave the players who have not been in the team the chance to show what they could do, and they did not take it."

The players Adkins refers to are the likes of veteran goalkeeper Kelvin Davis, defender Jos Hooiveld, midfielder Richard Chaplow and forward Guly Do Prado.

None of them were able to have an impact on the game, though, with only debutant substitute Lloyd Isgrove emerging with any real credit.

"It will be good experience for the young players," Adkins added. "We have tried to blood them in the past and utilised them in the cup competitions but tonight, on the whole, we haven't performed."

Selasa, 30 Oktober 2012

Southampton are investigating an incident involving Artur Boruc

Artur Boruc: Southampton are investigating an incident involving the keeper

The goalkeeper is alleged to have thrown a water bottle into the crowd at St Mary's as well as swearing at supporters after he conceded a second goal.

It had been reported that Saints had already looked at the video evidence and decided that the former Poland international had no case to answer.

However, a club statement read: "Southampton Football Club can confirm that it is investigating allegations of an incident involving Artur Boruc that occurred towards the end of the first half during Sunday's match against Tottenham Hotspur.

"The club takes such allegations extremely seriously and will deal with the matter in the appropriate manner."

Senin, 29 Oktober 2012

Leeds v Southampton preview

Tadanari Lee: Could start for Southampton

Southampton's Tadanari Lee could return to action as manager Nigel Adkins rotates his squad for the tie.

Japan international Lee is set to feature against the Championship outfit after sustaining an arm injury last month, while Frazer Richardson could also be involved against his former club after a thigh injury.

Richard Chaplow, Jos Hooiveld and James Ward-Prowse were unused substitutes in the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham and may start, while Jack Cork is close to full fitness after a knee injury.

Leeds will assess the condition of three of their key players ahead of the game.

Captain Lee Peltier and midfielders Rodolph Austin (both ankle) and Michael Tonge (shoulder) only just made the weekend loss to Birmingham, and the trio will be checked to see if they can face Saints.

Manager Neil Warnock has options if they do not make it, with veteran enforcer Michael Brown, full-back Aidy White and winger Luke Varney all standing by.

Str iker Andy Gray is also an option to Warnock should he decide to rest the out-of-form Luciano Becchio, but on-loan forward Ryan Hall is cup-tied.

Reserve goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown was given a chance against Everton in the previous round, as well as facing Oxford in the one before that, but Paddy Kenny is likely to start.

Striker Ross McCormack remains on the sidelines with an ankle injury but is closing in on a return, potentially within the next fortnight.

Southampton (from): Gazzaniga, Boruc, Davis, Richardson, Butterfield, Stephens, Shaw, Fox, Dickson, Reeves, Yoshida, Fonte, Hooiveld, Seaborne, Cork, Chaplow, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado, Robinson, Puncheon, De Ridder, Chambers, Lallana, Gape, Lee, Lambert, Sinclair, Rodriguez, Hoskins.

Manager Nigel Adkins expects to be given more time by Southampton's board

Nigel Adkins: Not afraid of losing his job at Southampton at the current time

Adkins has done a tremendous job at St Mary's since taking charge in 2010, guiding the club to back-to-back promotions to lead them from League One to the Premier League.

Saints have had a difficult start to the new season, though, and Sunday's defeat at home to Tottenham left them in the relegation zone with just four points from nine games.

However, Adkins does not believe chairman Nicola Cortese will be looking for a replacement in the near future.

"I'll get time from the board," he said. "You need to be confident and positive.

"We're all working hard for each other. We have regular meetings for all employees and I told them that we've had plain sailing in recent years with back-to-back promotions. But this season it is going to be a bit choppy.

"But you have to stick together and come through the storm. Then you say, 'Well done'. It's a great challenge and one we are enjoying.

"No-one said it was going to be easy. This is the hardest league in the world and we are giving a good account of ourselves."

Minggu, 28 Oktober 2012

Nigel Adkins felt Southampton ran out of time against Tottenham

First-half goals from Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey proved the difference as Southampton only had a Jay Rodriguez goal to show for an impressive second-half display.

"The second half was what we wanted in the first half," Adkins told Sky Sports. "Credit to Spurs, they slowed the game right down.

"We had the sucker punch of the two goals we conceded, which were poor ones from our point of view. In the second half we had them on the rack but ran out of time.

"We totally dominated the second half and pinned Tottenham back. It was more of a cup tie and we had a high energy."

Adkins also praised Rodriguez, who scored his first Premier League goal for Southampton since his big-money move from Burnley in the summer.

The Saints boss added: "He works ever so hard and I think he's a special talent. He's got a great future in the game.

"His movement is exceptional. He got the goal he deserved today and had one or two other opportunities as well that didn't go into the back of the net."

Another signing Emmanuel Mayuka caught the eye and Adkins said of the substitute: "Mayuka coming on the pitch gave us a big impetus.

"He's a young man who has come in and wants to play down the middle. We introduced him down the right-hand side and he made the impact required, and did that very well."

Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse ignores move talk

James Ward-Prowse: Keeping his feet on the ground

The Saints have helped developed the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from the club's academy and Ward-Prowse is the latest to come through the ranks.

The 17-year-old has burst onto the first-team scene this season, making nine appearances in Nigel Adkins' side on their return to the top flight.

A number of clubs have been linked with Ward-Prowse, but the teenager insists he is only focused on developing as a player at Southampton and sees current Saints skipper Adam Lallana as an ideal role model to follow.

"This has been a massive year for me but I am not thinking about big-money moves," said Ward-Prowse. "I just want to be the best player I can be for this football club.

"You are always going to be labelled as the next Gareth Bale after coming through this Academy, but my main focus is to develop to be the best I can for this club.

"I prefer to try to emulate Adam Lallana because he is a loca l boy who has stayed at the club since he was a youngster," said the barrister's boy who made his Premier League debut at Manchester City in August, aged 17.

"He is now captain and has been called up by England. He is someone I want to be like. He is a perfect example."

Adkins is confident Ward-Prowse will not be the latest young star to be snared away by one of the Premier League's big guns.

"James is a young man with a very bright future but why would he want to leave? We are an ambitious club and going places," insisted Adkins.

Sabtu, 27 Oktober 2012

Bale a shining example - Adkins

Bale: St Mary's return

Bale returns to St Mary's Stadium on Sunday for the first time since he left the south-coast club for Tottenham as a left-back, having just graduated from the club's famed academy, which also produced the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Alan Shearer.

The 23-year-old has added bags of strength, power and skill to his game since moving to White Hart Lane and he is now considered one of the most devastating attacking players in the world.

Yet, despite his rise to stardom, Bale is also regarded as one of the most grounded players in the Tottenham squad.

James Ward-Prowse and Luke Shaw are just two of the players who have recently made the step up from academy to first team, and Adkins thinks the duo could learn a lot from how Bale has handled himself throughout his career.

"He is a very professional player," the Southampton manager said.

"He looks after his lifestyle and he is reaping the rewards for doing that.

< p>"He is a shining example of how professional you need to be to be successful at the top level."

Bale will return to Spurs' starting line-up having missed their last two games following the birth of his first child.

And, judging by the team's lack of penetration in their defeat to Chelsea and loss at Maribor, the Londoners will welcome back the wide man with open arms.

Before his absence Bale had started to rediscover the kind of form that terrorised Inter Milan at White Hart Lane two years ago.

Adkins is aware of Bale's talents, but he insists his men cannot afford to concentrate solely on shackling the winger tomorrow.

"Every player in the opposition is a threat," Adkins said.

"To concentrate on one player means you neglect the others."

Given their inept defensive performances of late, the south-coast strugglers could have been forgiven for wishing Bale's partner had waited another week before going in to labour.

The Saints' 4-1 thrashing at the hands of West Ham highlighted once again the defensive frailties that have seen the club take only four points from their opening eight games.

Defender Jose Fonte, who was particularly poor in the defeat at Upton Park, admits his team must improve at the back.

"It's obvious where we have been making mistakes. We know that we can't keep on conceding goals like last week," he said.

"We just need to concentrate and make sure we don't repeat them this weekend."

Southampton's poor league form has left them second from bottom of the table and has raised questions about Adkins' future.

The former Scunthorpe manager has the backing of the majority of Saints fans, having guided the club to back-to-back promotions, and he insisted yesterday that he did not feel his position was under threat.

Indeed Fonte says the 47-year-old has been as jolly as ever around the training ground this week, despite last weekend's hum bling in east London.

"This week he was very enthusiastic, as he always is," Fonte said.

"He was trying to keep everyone positive because it's a long season.

"We are only eight games in. There are a lot more points on the table for us to get so we have to make sure we take our points on Sunday."

Southampton v Tottenham preview

Southampton will again be without record signing Gaston Ramirez as he continues his recovery from a thigh injury.

Defender Frazer Richardson (groin) and midfielder Jack Cork (knee) are both out, but Tadanari Lee has recovered from his elbow injury and could feature.

Young defender Luke Shaw has overcome his illness and may make his Premier League debut.

Tottenham's Gareth Bale will return from paternity leave to face his former club.

The Wales international missed the games with Chelsea and Maribor after the birth of his first child and will be joined in the squad by Brad Friedel, who also did not travel to Slovenia for Thursday's Europa League tie.

Emmanuel Adebayor could return after back pain and be joined at St Mary's by Mousa Dembele, who has recently struggled with a hip complaint. Michael Dawson (illness) will be assessed, while Scott Parker (Achilles), Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Younes Kaboul (both knee) are all sidelined.

Southampton (from): K Davis, Gazzaniga, Boruc, Butterfield, Stephens, Clyne, Fox, Shaw, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fonte, Seaborne, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado, Chaplow, De Ridder, Lallana, Schneiderlin, Lee, Puncheon, S Davis, Lambert, Rodriguez, Mayuka.

Tottenham (from): Friedel, Lloris, Cudicini, Naughton, Walker, Caulker, Gallas, Dawson, Vertonghen, Smith, Livermore, Parrett, Dembele, Huddlestone, Sandro, Sigurdsson, Lennon, Townsend, Bale, Falque, Dempsey, Defoe, Adebayor.

Jumat, 26 Oktober 2012

Adkins does not feel pressure

Adkins: Not feeling pressure

Southampton have found life hard after returning to the top tier of English football, with Adkins' men picking up just four points from their opening eight Premier League games.

The south coast club's poor form has led to speculation about Adkins' future, but the Saints boss has been buoyed by the reaction of his players to last week's defeat to West Ham, and a local newspaper survey in which 78% of the 5,000 polled said they thought the former Scunthorpe manager should remain in charge.

And having also led Saints to back-to-back promotions, Adkins is confident that he also has the support of the Southampton hierarchy.

When asked whether he felt under any pressure regarding his future at the club, Adkins said: "No, not at all.

"There is a stability at this club which is vitally important.

"Everyone here understands are realises there needs to be stability.

"I don't think there is any need for me to (seek assurances from the b oard).

"I said at the start of the season that there would be stormy weather ahead. We just need to baton down the hatches, stick together, ride out the wave.

"When we have got through this period we will be able to experience the good times together.

"It's very pleasing that 78% have turned around and said that they want me to carry on. It's very refreshing and rewarding."

Adkins was positivity personified today as he addressed the media ahead of the return of Gareth Bale and his Tottenham team to Southampton on Sunday.

His persona was in contrast to the downbeat figure he cut following last week's 4-1 thrashing at the hands of West Ham.

Adkins insists his players have reacted well to the poor showing, and conceded that the team must defend better when they take on Spurs this weekend.

"This hasn't been a difficult week at all," he said.

"I let a bit of negativity creep in for the first time last week,

but I had to quickly dispel that.

"Training has been good. The lads have responded in the appropriate manner.

"At this moment a couple of defeats have come about by some goals we could have stopped. We need to address that."

Adkins surprisingly left Rickie Lambert on the bench for last weekend's defeat, prompting fears the striker could leave St Mary's.

Stoke have been linked with the 30-year-old, but Adkins says he will not listen to any offers for the player, who starred in the Championship last season.

"I am not aware of an enquiry and we wouldn't consider (selling him)," Adkins added.

"He is one of the main reasons why we have got back to the Premier League.

"We love the bones of him. He works very hard. It is my responsibility to pick the team, whether Ricky is in that team or coming off the bench to make an impact as he did against Manchester City."

Should Lambert continue to be benched, Adkins admits offers could come in f or the player, however.

He said: "Rickie Lambert is a good football player. I'm sure anyone who sees him not in the starting XI will might wonder: 'what's happening there? We might show a bit of interest'. That's football."

Senin, 22 Oktober 2012

Lallana: We're under pressure

Lallana: Believes Adkins shouldn't take all the blame

Saints have lost six of their eight games since winning promotion back to the Premier League and have conceded 24 goals during that period.

A 4-1 defeat at fellow promoted side West Ham United on Saturday prompted fresh rumours concerning the future of boss Nigel Adkins, but Lallana feels the responsibility must be shared.

"We're all under pressure," said Lallana in the Daily Echo. "We're under pressure to get results, so is the manager.

"You can't just look in his direction when we get a couple of bad results. We're the players that are out there, so we've got to take responsibility."

Lallana also refused to be drawn on Adkins' decision to drop top scorer Rickie Lambert to the bench for the heavy defeat at Upton Park.

He added: "Listen, Rickie's one of the biggest reasons we're here in the Premier League, on the back of his goals.

"I honestly can't comment. It's not my decision who plays, or whether he plays. I just get on wi th my job, as Rickie did when he came on the pitch.

"He's a professional guy, he's a top man, and it's been a pleasure playing with him and it will continue to be a pleasure playing with him throughout my career. I've learnt a lot off him, and I look up to him massively."

Minggu, 21 Oktober 2012

Saints Hammered at Upton Park

Noble: Bagged a brace in win over Southampton

The Hammers have adapted to life in the Premier League far better than the side that finished above them in the Championship and picked up their fourth win of the campaign today.

After a dour first half at Upton Park, Sam Allardyce's men came flying out of the blocks after the restart and netted twice in a three-minute spell.

Noble broke the deadlock with a 40-yard free-kick that drifted past debutant goalkeeper Artur Boruc, before captain Kevin Nolan tapped home a Yossi Benayoun cross at the back post.

Southampton threatened a comeback when Adam Lallana exquisitely fired home, but Noble netted a penalty before substitute Modibo Maiga superbly curled home to secure the three points.

West Ham looked the brighter side early on but Southampton earned the game's first corner with Jay Rodriguez inches away from directing home Jason Puncheon's loss cross.

It was one of several threatening moments by the visitors for whom goalkeeper Boruc w as looking shaky.

The former Celtic man became the third different goalkeeper to start for Saints this season and had Andy Carroll to thank for not making the most of an awful clearance early on.

Boruc was playing behind a re-jigged backline in east London as Southampton juggled injuries and attempted to thwart West Ham's aerial threat.

Jos Hooiveld returned to the side as a result of the changes and had to be alert to clear a James Tomkins header off the line.

The Dutch defender saw his own header on goal saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen moments earlier and in the 21st minute Rodriguez put a snapshot just wide.

The 6million striker also fired a free-kick over as Saints tried to break the deadlock, with team-mates Maya Yoshida and Guly do Prado soon miscuing their own long-range efforts.

There were fears for Tomkins when he appeared to twist his knee, but he continued after treatment as West Ham upped the ante.

The home side were s truggling to create any clear-cut chances, though, as Southampton went into half-time without conceding for the first time since their return to the Premier League.

However, the Saints defence was breached less than a minute into the second half.

Collins could not quite get a toe on Noble's floated 40-yard free-kick, but it bounced in the six-yard box and flew past Boruc.

The opener was followed moments later by West Ham's second after a poor Do Prado pass was not dealt with by Yoshida.

Benayoun won the ball from the Japan international and his low cross was met at the back post by Nolan, who tapped home from close range.

Only the fine reactions of Boruc prevented the Hammers captain making it three in the 61st minute as he ghosted in and directed a quickly-taken free-kick goalwards.

The save proved invaluable as Saints reduced the deficit two minutes later when Lallana turned beautifully to strike a half-volley past Jaaskelainen fro m close range.

The goal came thanks to the hard work - and wayward shot - of Rodriguez, who was replaced by Rickie Lambert immediately afterwards.

Saints' top scorer was surprisingly left out of the starting line-up and came on at the same time as Emmanuel Mayuka, although it was the former that made an immediate impact.

First the 30-year-old saw a 20-yard free-kick just go over, before heading a Nathaniel Clyne cross wide.

Southampton were threatening to quieten the home support but undid all their good work when Fonte handled as he challenged Carroll.

Noble fired home the resulting spot-kick, allowing the Hammers to coast from the 72nd minute onwards.

Mayuka tested Jaaskelainen as West Ham endured some nervy moments, but Maiga put the match out of sight three minutes from time, running at the Saints defence and sending a curling left-footed effort home.

Adkins: The buck stops with me

Adkins: Takes responsibility after West Ham defeat

Saints ended a seven-year exile from the top flight after automatic promotion from the Championship, but have so far endured a torrid start to life back in the big time.

Saturday's 4-1 defeat at the hands of fellow new boys West Ham means the south coast side have just four points to show from eight Premier League matches, letting in 24 goals in the process.

No side has ever conceded as many goals at this stage of a Premier League season and Adkins knows things need to change quickly.

"We've obviously conceded some poor goals again," the Southampton manager said. "We'll remain positive in what we do. We'll work hard on the training ground.

"In the first half the players did very well and let's remember, we defend as a team.

"Let's not highlight any individuals. It is my responsibility and if anyone wants to point the finger, point it me.

"At the end of the day, we defend as a team and we attack as a team and that is the import ant thing."

Southampton's team selections this season have at times raised a few eyebrows and Saturday's decision to start with top scorer Rickie Lambert on the bench confused many.

"I thought Jay Rodriguez did very well in the first half," Adkins said in defence of the team selection.

"We've got Jay Rodriguez, Emmanuel Mayuka, Rickie Lambert - we've got several players at the football club.

"Me as manager, it is my responsibility to pick from the group of players I have to select from.

"Everyone will have a different opinion, everyone will pick a different team.

"Whether I start Rickie Lambert, whether I bring Rickie Lambert on, whatever team is selected, there will always be a decision made about it.

"Ultimately, it is my decision as the manager to pick the team and the buck stops with me."

While the pressure mounts on Adkins and his side, things for Saturday's opponents West Ham look far rosier.

The Hammers do minated proceedings in east London after a dour first half, securing victory thanks to Mark Noble's double and goals from Kevin Nolan and Modibo Maiga.

The victory was the east Londoners' fourth since their return to the Premier League and pleased man-of-the-match Noble.

"We all said at half-time that we have been very good at home but we cannot play like we have every game," he told West Ham TV.

"You have to give credit to Southampton because they closed us down and made it very difficult for us.

"We defended very well and at 0-0 we were still massively in the game and knew we had a chance to go on and win it which thankfully we did.

"To get four against Southampton was fantastic but that is what can happen when you have quality players like Yossi Benayoun, big Andy Carroll and Nobby (Nolan).

"Matt Jarvis also had a very good game and Tonks (James Tomkins) did a fantastic job playing at right-back, despite having not played two mont hs. It was great for the lads".

Sabtu, 20 Oktober 2012

West Ham v Southampton reaction

After a dour opening 45 minutes that Saints dominated at Upton Park on Saturday, it took less than a minute of the second half for Mark Noble to break the deadlock.

Kevin Nolan doubled the Hammers' advantage moments later and although Adam Lallana halved the deficit, Noble's penalty and a superb strike by substitute Modibo Maiga sealed an emphatic victory for the hosts.

"It was a surprise we won 4-1 when you look at what we did in the first half," Allardyce said after the match.

"The good thing for us is the professionalism of players that took a little bit of criticism at half-time for what was a bit of a lacklustre performance.

"The only good thing we did was not to allow Southampton any real chances in the first half.

"We were just not playing well enough and, if we were to overcome them, we had to play better than that and we had to do that by upping the tempo and showing the sort of desire we showed against Arsenal, Fulham, Sunder land and Aston Villa this year.

"Of course, doing that in the second half and giving that sort of performance and scoring the goals - obviously the timing was brilliant because we went out, got right at them and scored two very quick ones - gave us a fantastic 4-1 victory.

"We can forget the first half now and just enjoy the victory and really focus on the positives of how we turned the game around when we looked like we were struggling. In fact, we didn't look like we were struggling, we were.

"To come out and put it right, not just in terms of winning the game but winning the game comfortably is great.

"Scoring four goals against any side in the Premier League is no mean feat and 4-1 is a brilliant result for us."

The win was the Hammers' fourth since their return to the top flight, while Saints have only four points to show from their opening fixtures - something Allardyce highlighted during the half-time break.

"We had to look at ourselves and say 'we're just not doing our job properly' apart from we defended okay," the former Bolton and Newcastle boss said.

"We weren't passing it well enough, mixing our play well enough, we weren't putting the right quality to the front lads, we weren't sustaining any pressure on the opposition.

"I said 'we need to sustain pressure on this opposition as this team is struggling confidence-wise. They've only picked up four points and they score plenty of goals, but conceded 20. If we put pressure on the back four they will make mistakes'.

"And certainly they did that and we capitalised on that."

Today's result means Southampton have now conceded 24 goals in just eight matches back in the Premier League.

It is a record that has cost the south coast side this campaign and will no doubt see the position of manager Nigel Adkins come under scrutiny.

Asked how long he thinks he will have to turn things around, the Saints manager sa id: "Honest answer? I don't know. That is football, I am being brutally honest with you.

"There is a vision at the football club to play a certain brand of football by passing the ball.

"There needs to be stability at any football club, which is important. But I am not naive as it's football and football is a results-driven industry.

"We've got a process in place that we're doing our best to adhere to, but you've got to win games of football.

"You've got to keep it out at one end and stick it in at the other end.

"On too many occasions this year in the Barclays Premier League, we've not kept it out of our net and I am being up front and honest with you."

Kick It Out seeks fans' feedback

Neville: Proud to support the campaign

The 'Tackling Discrimination' consultation will mark the start of Kick It Out's annual One Game, One Community weeks of action (18-29 October), supported by players, managers, coaches and administrators at amateur and elite level, as the charity enters its 20th year.

The findings of the fan consultation will help form a blueprint for tackling discrimination over the coming seasons.

Lord Herman Ouseley, Chair of Kick It Out, said: "At a time when discrimination is high up the football agenda, it is easy for fans and players to forget the great strides made over the last 20 years in helping to eradicate it. But there is still a long way to go. We are launching this important dialogue with football fans to help set out how we move forward to achieve a zero tolerance approach to discrimination in all its forms, at all levels of the game.

"The One Game, One Community weeks of action provide a focal point for everyone connected to football, from support ers to players, to stand up against discrimination in all its forms."

The Tackling Discrimination fan survey, hosted by Populus and developed in partnership with key fans groups, will run during the current football season and can be accessed here.

It covers a range of topics from how to improve reporting of abusive behaviour and enforcement in grounds, to combating abusive behaviour on social media. Fans have the chance to suggest what more could be done by clubs and football authorities to help stop all types of discrimination. Kick It Out will also engage with players during this period to canvass their opinions.

PFA Chairman Clarke Carlisle welcomed the move, saying: "The responsible majority of fans in this country are on board with stamping out discrimination, and want more to be done.

"They are a powerful voice in football and this survey gives them a chance to have their say.

"We want to make sure we tackle the tiny minority for who m the healthy rivalries and passion that make the game great, tip over into unacceptable prejudice and hatred."

Everton captain Phil Neville said: "There is no place for any form of abuse and discrimination in football. I'm proud to support the One Game, One Community weeks of action campaign and this important consultation with fans.

"After all the progress made so far in tackling abuse, we cannot sit back, we must ensure that all forms of discrimination are made unacceptable."

Weeks of action

The One Game, One Community weeks of action period is a platform for all 92 professional football clubs across England and Wales to show their support for the anti-discrimination campaign and to promote the club's own equality events and activities. Every professional football club has nominated a home fixture as its own day of action. In addition to these fixtures, events and activities will be taking place at schools, prisons, libraries, com munity clubs and at grass roots level all over the country.

The campaign also has support and commitment from the Kick It Out XI, comprised of some of the game's male and female talents, past and present, who have demonstrated a desire to make football accessible and open to anyone that wants to get involved.

About Kick It Out

Kick It Out is a charity funded by the FA, the PFA and the Premier League and has been at the forefront of anti-discrimination campaigning and education work for two decades, working all year round with professional and amateur clubs at all levels of the game. This work includes helping clubs achieve the Equality Standard, a three-tiered framework in recognition of their efforts to improve diversity and tackle prejudice, both internally and externally.

Jumat, 19 Oktober 2012

MS: League One helped me

Schneiderlin: Enjoying his time in the Premier League

The 22-year-old is one of just a handful of players to have remained with the club during what has been a turbulent past four years, which saw the club go from the brink to the Premier League via back-to-back promotions.

Schneiderlin was part of the side relegated to League One in 2009, capping what was a difficult first season in English football for the French midfielder.

"For myself, it was very difficult," said Schneiderlin, who joined Saints despite reported interest from the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea.

"I was very young, I was only 18 and for me it was a difficult thing to leave my family and friends to come to England.

"The first year was especially hard as we also did not have the best results.

"I tried to learn the language very quickly and how to live in England. I did that and now I have no regrets because everything went the way it wanted to when I first came.

"I am in the Premier League so it is good now. I don 't regret anything."

Furthermore, Schneiderlin believes his four years in the Football League have actually aided his development, particularly highlighting the two seasons spent in the third tier.

"League One made me a better player," he said. "You don't play in the best stadiums, you don't play against the best teams but it is a very good learning curve.

"I remember one game against Hartlepool where there was so much wind we could not play football.

"But that's part of football and that makes you more appreciative when you play in the Premier League and makes you work even harder to stay here."

Schneiderlin is hoping that such hard work will soon translate into victories after what has been frustrating start to the campaign, with Saints only having four points to show heading into tomorrow's clash with fellow promoted side West Ham.

"When we were down in League One I was very disappointed because when I first came here it was to pl ay in the Premier League," Schneiderlin added.

"When the new chairman came in, he showed us his ambition for the club, I think everyone knew it was a great club to be part of, to be part of this project

"Now I am very, very happy to be at Southampton and want to do even better, not just fighting to stay in the Premier League but fighting for something else."

While Schneiderlin has been pleased with his top-flight performances so far, he laughed off suggestions from some that a call-up to Didier Deschamps' national team beckons.

"At the moment I have only played six games so it is not quite long enough to be called up to the French national team, I guess," the former France Under-21 international said.

"Hopefully I will have a good season and everyone will think about me then.

"That is my number one target, to be one day in the full French squad and I will do everything for it."

West Ham v Southampton preview

Reid: Hoping to prove fitness

Defenders Winston Reid and Guy Demel are West Ham's main injury concerns.

Reid (back) and Demel (thigh) will have to prove their fitness ahead of the match, while the Hammers will also be without Ricardo Vaz Te who has had surgery on his dislocated shoulder.

Andy Carroll came through England duty unscathed and is expected to start up front, while Raphael Spiegel will back up Jussi Jaaskelainen in goal, with Stephen Henderson beginning his three-month loan with Ipswich.

Southampton will be missing record signing Gaston Ramirez for the trip to Upton Park and the foreseeable future.

The 21-year-old faces another four weeks out after problems related to a dead leg picked up before the international break and will be joined on the sidelines by Frazer Richardson (thigh).

Jack Cork, Danny Butterfield (both knee) and Tadanari Lee (elbow) are also out, but Nathaniel Clyne is set to return. Artur Boruc could be involved with Southampton for th e first time.

West Ham (from): Jaaskelainen, McCartney, Collins, Noble, Jarvis, Diame, Nolan, Carroll, O'Neil, Benayoun, Maiga, Cole, Spence, Diarra, Tomkins, Collison, Spiegel, Driver.

Southampton (from): K Davis, Gazzaniga, Boruc, Butterfield, Stephens, Clyne, Fox, Shaw, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fonte, Seaborne, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado, Chaplow, De Ridder, Lallana, Schneiderlin, Puncheon, S Davis, Lambert, Rodriguez, Mayuka.

Kamis, 18 Oktober 2012

Injury blow for Ramirez

Ramirez: Sidelined for six weeks

The 21-year-old has impressed for the south coast side since joining for a fee upwards of 12million in the summer from Serie A outfit Bologna.

Ramirez missed Saints' 2-2 draw with Fulham before the international break after he was treated in hospital for a dead leg, which resulted in swelling of his thigh.

Adkins confirmed on Thursday the Uruguay international faces up to a six-week absence and will miss Saturday's trip to West Ham in the Premier League.

"I think six weeks is probably about right, but we'll see how he progresses through the rehab stages," Adkins said.

"If the time is from the medical department, it is from the date of original injury.

"He is showing good signs of recovery at this moment of time, but he won't be fit for the weekend."

Le Tissier hits out at Cortese

Le Tissier: Blasted Cortese

There has long been tension between Saints chairman Cortese and one of their greatest ever players.

Cortese played an integral role in the now-deceased Markus Liebherr's takeover of the debt-ridden south coast club three years ago - a time in which Le Tissier was part of a rival bid by Pinnacle Group.

The 44-year-old did not pinpoint that as the reason for the pair's strained relationship but made his feelings on the Italian abundantly clear.

"I suppose the only real story will probably come out when he leaves the football club," he claimed.

"He is not a very nice human being. It's as simple as that.

"I think a lot of the stuff will come out about him when he leaves the football club and only when he leaves.

"He has a lot of hold over a lot of people and while the club is doing well on the pitch he will get away with it.

"When it's not quite going so well and the spotlight starts falling on other areas of the football p itch, then that's when he'll come under a little bit of pressure."

Le Tissier was speaking at the Tullow Oil Golf Day, which is aimed at raising more than 150,000 for CLIC Sargent - the UK's leading cancer charity for children and young people.

The former Saints man was amongst a number of famous sporting faces at Sunningdale Golf Club, with the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Harry Redknapp and Alan Hansen also in attendance.

While the aforementioned remain revered at their former clubs, Le Tissier says he feels "that the chairman doesn't want anything to do with anything that happened before he turned up" at Southampton.

However, he insists the fact Cortese is calling the shots has not tainted Saints' return to the Premier League after a seven-year absence.

"No, not at all," Le Tissier said. "Nothing he does to me will ever stop me backing Southampton Football Cub 100 per cent when I am watching them play football."

On the field, it has n ot been the greatest of starts to life back in the big time for Southampton.

Four points from their opening seven fixtures leaves them 17th in the standings heading into Saturday's trip to West Ham.

"It has been tricky but it was always going to be tough with the fixtures we had," Le Tissier said.

"I think we have acquitted ourselves quite well without perhaps picking up the points that some of our play has deserved.

"I don't think we deserved to lose to Manchester United at home and, while four points is not a great total, we're still not in the bottom three."

Le Tissier was also quick to back manager Nigel Adkins, who helped the club to back-to-back promotions but is reportedly already under pressure.

"With what he has done for the us over the past few years, I think he deserves a fair crack at it," he added.

"I think it would be incredibly harsh if he was to lose his job at this point of the season."

No-one at Saints was available for comment when contacted.

Kamis, 11 Oktober 2012

Duo out of Under-21 play-off

Lansbury: Will miss play-off

Liverpool defender Jack Robinson has been called in as a replacement.

The first leg is at Norwich's Carrow Road ground on Friday night, with the return in Krusevac on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, manager Stuart Pearce saw Chelsea's Ryan Bertrand and Liverpool's Jonjo Shelvey promoted to the senior squad after Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs was forced out of the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland with a thigh problem.

England Under-21s will be hoping for a repeat of the performance they enjoyed on the last visit to Carrow Road two seasons ago, when Pearce's Young Lions beat Romania 2-1 which helped secure a place at the 2011 European Championships finals in Denmark.

"This play-off has been pencilled in for Norwich for a long while, simply because of how we have always been welcomed by the club and the fans in this neck of the woods," Pearce told TheFA.com.

"It's a passionate area for football, they love their team and t hey also love England, so always give us great support at Carrow Road.

"This is somewhere the Under-21s have always enjoyed playing and I am delighted we're going back."

Despite the changes in personnel, Pearce's squad enjoyed a productive training session at Norwich's Colney base, where Canaries goalkeeper Declan Rudd was put through his paces along with the likes of Sunderland striker Connor Wickham and promising Liverpool forward Raheem Sterling.

Pearce took the squad to a speedway meeting at King's Lynn on Wednesday evening which the former Manchester City manager feels will help them bond ahead of the crucial play-off tie.

He said: "We try and get the team out when we meet up and this is a great opportunity for us before our game at Norwich.

"I remember taking the Manchester City team to the speedway at Belle Vue when I was there.

"It's something different for the boys and it's great for them to see sportsmen of their own age ri ding these bikes, seeing the motorcycles in the pits and meeting the riders has been really interesting for us."

Selasa, 09 Oktober 2012

Saints rocked by Ramirez blow

Ramirez: Out of action for up to six weeks

The Uruguay international suffered a dead leg in training and the thigh muscle later swelled up, causing him to spend time in hospital.

Saints manager Nigel Adkins will not take any chances with his 12million summer capture and the 21-year-old midfielder looks likely to miss their next four matches.

Ramirez has also been ruled out of his country's World Cup qualifiers against Argentina and Bolivia.

"The muscle swelled up very much because there was nowhere for the blood to go, so there was a lot of pressure on his thigh," said Adkins.

"He has had to have a couple of days in hospital to try and relieve the pressure, so obviously he is not going to go and join the Uruguayan team over the international break."

Senin, 08 Oktober 2012

Fonte frustrated by Fulham goals

Fonte: Two goals for Saints

The Portuguese defender's headers book-ended an own goal by defensive partner Jos Hooiveld and a late effort from substitute Kieran Richardson at St Mary's on Sunday.

Fonte's goal at the death was enough to secure a point for Saints, but his overriding feeling was one of frustration after they let slip a comfortable-looking lead to draw 2-2.

Nigel Adkins' side have now shipped 20 goals - a Premier League high - and centre-back Fonte has had enough.

"I am obviously very happy to score my first Premier League goals, but it is mixed emotions because I prefer to keep a clean sheet," he said.

"I am a defender and every defender is very disappointed with this.

"I know it is not only the defenders that are to blame, but as a team have to defend better and stop this.

"Other games, not just against Fulham, we have been comfortable and then there is a period in the game that we concede one or two goals.

"That has to stop and we w ill work very hard on the training ground to once and for all start getting some clean sheets."

Such inability to thwart opponents has seen Saints boss Adkins rejig his back five in recent weeks and bring in new faces.

Many of those defensive options played in the second tier last season and Fonte has backed their ability to make the step up.

"No-one is more disappointed than us, don't get me wrong," he said.

"We are very upset with it because last year we had one of the best defences in the league.

"I know it is the Premier League but if you look at the goals we are conceding it does not matter if it is the Premier League or Championship. It is basic mistakes.

"That is something we were not doing last year so I think we can improve massively.

"I think we can keep clean sheets from now on. No doubt about it.

"It's just a question of concentration and keep working very hard on the training ground."

Welford Road axed for World Cup

Welford Road: Will not stage a World Cup match

The ground, which has been Leicester Tigers' home for 120 years, has been left off the long list of 17 stadia published by tournament organisers England Rugby 2015.

Gloucester's Kingsholm is the only Aviva Premiership rugby ground on a list that includes Twickenham, the Olympic Stadium, Wembley, the Millennium Stadium and some of the biggest club football stadia in the country.

The home grounds of Manchester United, Newcastle, Sunderland, Aston Villa and Southampton have all been included after expressing an interest in staging World Cup matches.

Outside of the Premier League, ER2015 have included the Amex Stadium in Brighton, Bristol City's Ashton Gate, Pride Park in Derby, Coventry's Ricoh Arena, Elland Road in Leeds and Stadium MK in Milton Keynes.

Leicester is still represented by the King Power Stadium, which has a capacity of over 32,000 and, tournament organisers believe, more suitable off-field facilities than Welford Road.

C ritics argue the World Cup should be utilising more rugby grounds but ER2015 have to sell 2.9million tickets in order to cover the 80million guarantee owed to the International Rugby Board.

ER2015 will confirm the final list of 10-12 venues early in the new year, once the tournament match schedule has been formulated. The pool draw is being held on December 3 in London.

Arsenal's Emirates Stadium was in the original bid document but it does not feature on the shortlist, replaced by the Olympic Stadium.

ER2015 are in talks with the Olympic Park Legacy Company over the future use of the stadium, which has obvious attractions following the success of London 2012.

Andy Cosslett, England Rugby 2015 chairman, said: "Our vision for Rugby World Cup 2015 is to ensure that we take this prestigious tournament to as many parts of the country as possible and we believe that the geographical spread of venues selected will enable us to maximise the reach of the tournament.

"In addition, we will be selecting further venues for training and team base camps that will ensure that the rugby community is at the very heart of Rugby World Cup 2015.

"We will now continue to work extremely closely with the venues, cities and stakeholders, including the Premier League and Football League, to plan the scheduling of matches and city hosting programmes to select a final list of up to 12 venues, which will be agreed by the early part of next year.

"We are confident that with the venues selected we will be able to reach our target of having up to 2.9 million tickets available, opening up the tournament to more people than ever before and in turn delivering the biggest and best Rugby World Cup that there has ever been.

"The process of choosing the long list of venues was very competitive and we would like to thank the venues and cities who we have met for their full co-operation, including the venues not selected, all of whom provided us with their fulsome assistance and information required to make our selection."

Adkins: We must learn fast

Adkins: Concerned over defensive frailties

Jose Fonte's last-gasp header earned Saints a 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw against Fulham on Sunday in a match they had dominated for the most part.

The Portuguese defender also scored the opener after just four minutes but, like so many times this season, Southampton did their best to throw it away as Jos Hooiveld directed into his own net before Kieran Richardson put Fulham ahead late on.

Fonte may have equalised but Saints have now dropped 11 points from winning positions and conceded a league-high 20 goals, leading Adkins to a simple conclusion.

"I keep going on about learning but we need to learn quicker," the Saints boss said. "We've got to keep the ball out the back of the net."

He added: "Obviously I am delighted we've come back so late on after going behind, but disappointed to concede the goals we did.

"The first half was good. We passed the ball well at certain stages.

"We scored a good goal from a set-play and could have maybe scored some more so the first half was very pleasing.

"The second half Fulham have come out and had a bit more possession of the ball. It was too open for our liking.

"We weren't compact enough in our pressing as a team and we conceded a couple of poor goals.

"We'd like to think we could've done better with them, but there was great character from the players to score at the very end.

"You've got to take your chances when they're presented. We had several good opportunities throughout the course of the game."

While Adkins was left thankful for a point, Fulham manager Martin Jol was left contemplating what might have been.

The Dutchman was annoyed by Fonte's second goal, claiming Maya Yoshida had fouled Giorgos Karagounis in the build-up to the award of the set-piece which led to the equaliser.

"It was 100 per cent a free-kick and I know as I remember I thought, 'now we are fine, now we have the ball and the pr essure is gone'," Jol said.

"But he did it as if he didn't see it and two seconds later it was a free-kick for them. That happens and, of course, if it hadn't they wouldn't have scored.

"I wasn't pleased with either goal but I was very pleased with the resilience and character.

"We did better in the second half. We stood up and played like we always did before. We put them under pressure and created more.

"Our better players had the ball and we played football."

Minggu, 07 Oktober 2012

Cottagers cheesed off by Fonte

Fonte: Celebrates his equaliser

The Portuguese centre-back nodded home a 90th-minute leveller in a Premier League game in which he had broken the deadlock after just four minutes.

His defensive partner Jos Hooiveld scored an own goal in Southampton's 6-1 humbling at Arsenal and did so again on the south coast when he directed home a speculative John Arne Riise drive in the second half.

Hooiveld, who came on eight minutes into the clash after Frazer Richardson suffered a thigh injury, then saw Kieran Richardson's close-range strike brush off him on its way in two minutes from time, although the goal was credited to the Fulham man.

However, Fonte saved the Dutchman and his side late on to earn Southampton a fourth point of the campaign.

The hosts began brightly and the returning Morgan Schneiderlin fired a wayward warning shot, before Rickie Lambert headed into the side-netting after connecting with a Danny Fox corner from the right.

Southampton had their second corn er by the fourth minute and made their early dominance count.

Adam Lallana floated the set-piece in from the left and Fonte's glanced header at the near post looped over goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and into the far corner.

Richardson was forced off in the eighth minute for the hosts and his departure forced a defensive reshuffle, with replacement Hooiveld forcing Maya Yoshida out wide.

Fulham began to make headway, with Lambert blocking Aaron Hughes from a corner before the Northern Irishman headed over.

Saints, though, were still looking dangerous and came agonisingly close to doubling their advantage as Jay Rodriguez beat the offside trap and pulled back for Lambert, whose right-footed effort just went wide.

The home side continued to press and Jason Puncheon twice came close from 22nd-minute corners.

Puncheon was denied on the goal-line by Sascha Riether and then, from the following corner, the wide man was adjudged to have fouled S chwarzer prior to prodding home.

Lambert forced Schwarzer into action at his near post after collecting a fine pass from Puncheon, but Fulham stepped up the pressure as half-time approached and home goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga was required for the first time in stoppage time when Hughes headed goalwards.

The Cottagers again came close as Hooiveld failed to deal with a hopeful long ball and Hugo Rodallega poked wide under pressure from Gazzaniga.

That momentum continued into the second half but it was still Southampton enjoying the best opportunities, with Lambert volleying over a driven Schneiderlin cross from the right.

Schwarzer spilt a hopeful 25-yard effort from Rodriguez after a great surge forward but Fulham were looking a more dangerous opponent and twice came close in the 60th minute.

Gazzaniga did terrifically to push a close-range Rodallega header away moments after Steve Sidwell bundled the ball onto the post.

Fulham could have also been awarded a penalty after Yoshida appeared to handle in the midst of the action.

Both sides made changes in a bid to change the match but it was an earlier substitute whose impact was felt on the south coast.

Riise drilled a low shot from the left and centre-back Hooiveld could only direct it into his own goal, putting Fulham level in the 69th minute.

The goal had been coming and the Cottagers threatened to go ahead, with substitute Kieran Richardson putting a Riether cross over.

Rodriguez nodded wide for the hosts in stoppage time and Saints paid when Richardson fired home off Hooiveld's leg two minutes from time.

The substitute looked to have earned Fulham three points but he gave away a late free-kick from which Fonte headed home to earn Saints a point.

Lallana welcomes battling point

Richardson: Looked to have given Fulham win

Saints led for more than an hour at St Mary's but needed Jose Fonte's 90th-minute equaliser to rescue a 2-2 draw with the Cottagers.

Fonte headed home his second of the game at the death after the visitors had recovered from going behind in the fourth minute to lead.

Jos Hooiveld's own goal made it 1-1 in the 70th minute before Kieran Richardson put the Cottagers in front with two minutes to go.

"(We're) a bit disappointed, we were in front for quite a lot of the game, but to come back in the last two minutes and salvage a point is credit to the lads," Lallana told Sky Sports 1.

The point was only Southampton's fourth from seven Premier League games this term and Lallana knows they have to improve at the back.

"For a lot of us it's our first season in the top flight, we've got to learn fast and got to keep clean sheets, because that's the only way you're going to get points," he said.

The brace was Fonte's first Premier League goals and he said: "It was good to get two goals, but at the end of the day the most important thing is the team."

Southampton v Fulham reaction

Adkins: Watches on at St Mary's

Jose Fonte gave Saints a fourth-minute lead on the south coast in Sunday's Premier League encounter but, having failed to make the most out of their first-half dominance, the Cottagers levelled things up thanks to Jos Hooiveld's second-half own goal.

The Dutch defender was again involved two minutes from time when substitute Kieran Richardson's close-range effort took a deflection off him on its way in, seemingly ensuring an away win for the west Londoners.

However, Saints rallied late on and Fonte's last-gasp header earned a 2-2 draw that Adkins knows could have easily been three.

"Obviously I am delighted we've come back so late on after going behind, but disappointed to concede the goals we did," Adkins said.

"The first half was good. We passed the ball well at certain stages.

"We scored a good goal from a set play and could have maybe scored some more so the first half was very pleasing.

"The second half Fulham have come o ut and had a bit more possession of the ball. It was too open for our liking.

"We weren't compact enough in our pressing as a team and we conceded a couple of poor goals.

"We'd like to think we could've done better with them, but there was great character from the players to score at the very end.

"You've got to take your chances when they're presented. We had several good opportunities throughout the course of the game."

Southampton have now conceded a league-high 20 goals in just seven Premier League matches this season.

Adkins knows that statistic is not good enough but was proud of his defence's efforts today after right-back Frazer Richardson was forced off after eight minutes, resulting in a defensive reshuffle.

"I keep going on about learning but we need to learn quicker," the Saints boss said.

"We've got to keep the ball out the back of the net."

Nathaniel Clyne would have likely slotted in at right-back had he not missed today match through a dead leg.

Gaston Ramirez also missed out with a similar problem - one, though, that Adkins revealed is more problematic.

"Nathaniel has got a dead leg picked up at Everton, which he has not recovered from," Adkins said.

"Gaston's got a similar thing with a dead leg picked up in training on Thursday, but that was quite a serious one.

"The muscle swelled up very much because there was nowhere for the blood to go so there was a lot of pressure on his thigh.

"He has had to have a couple of days in hospital to try and relieve the pressure so obviously he is not going to go and join the Uruguayan team over the international break.

"I would suggest as Nathaniel did not play today he won't be fit to go with England Under-21s as well."

While Adkins was left thankful for a point, Fulham manager Martin Jol was left ruing what could have been.

The Dutchman was left annoyed by Fonte's leveller as he claims Maya Yoshida fouled Kieran Richardson in the build-up to the goalscorer giving away the set-piece.

"It was 100 per cent a free-kick and I know as I remember I thought 'now we are fine, now we have the ball and the pressure is gone'," Jol said

"But he did it as if he didn't see it and two seconds later it was a free-kick for them. That happens and, of course, if it hadn't they wouldn't have scored.

"I wasn't pleased with either goal but I was very pleased with the resilience and character.

"We did better in the second half. We stood up and played like we always did before. We put them under pressure and created more.

"Our better players had the ball and we played football."

Sabtu, 06 Oktober 2012

Jol wary of Lambert threat

Jol: Praises Saint Lambert

Saints have endured a tough start to life back in the top flight after a seven-year absence, with their only points coming in the recent 4-1 defeat of Aston Villa.

Lambert netted twice in that victory and also scored against both Manchester sides in what has so far been an impressive start to his first season in the Premier League.

Jol has been impressed by the 30-year-old's exploits and expects a tough challenge against the recently-promoted side at St Mary's tomorrow afternoon.

"Rickie Lambert is probably one of the best target man we've got in England," the Fulham boss said. "He is very dangerous with crosses, especially at the far post.

"If you see their line-up and if you are capable as a club of getting the likes of Gaston Ramirez then you're heading in the right direction.

"I thought they were very unfortunate in two or three matches, even against Manchester City away from home. They should have quite a few more points.

"They play with four players up front and if you talk about Ramirez, Adam Lallana and the like, they are all good players.

"You saw that in the first 30 minutes against Everton and against Man City, for example. I think they've got the quality to survive in the league and to hurt you."

Despite some impressive performances, Southampton's poor start to the season saw pressure begin to mount on manager Nigel Adkins.

The former Scunthorpe boss led Saints to successive promotions from League One, but reports suggested former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez or - rather surprisingly - ex-Saints and Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp could replace him.

"That is football, you know? You can do well and someone will say anything and then you get a different perception," Jol said.

"You saw with Bobby Zamora. Everybody was happy here, we were hugging and then everybody thinks it is ok.

"Nothing is what it seems in football and you will see in the nex t couple of weeks there will always be players telling you the spirit is great and it is the same with him.

"He did ever so well, got them promotion and what more can you do as a manager?

"Three weeks in it is about pressure and winning games and I feel he already knew that. I don't think it is news for him."

Jol will be missing talisman Dimitar Berbatov for the trip to St Mary's due to injury and could also have to do without Mladen Petric, who picked up a calf complaint yesterday.

Kieran Richardson does, though, return for a Fulham side boosted by Philippe Senderos, Pajtim Kasami, Kerim Frei and Ashkan Dejagah stepping up their return to fitness last night.

The quartet played in Fulham 3-1 with rivals Chelsea in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League, which also saw Mickael Tavares play the full 90 minutes hours after signing a short-term deal with the Cottagers.

Davis has nothing to prove

Davis: Hoping to score against former club Fulham

Saints ended their seven-year exile from the Premier League after securing automatic promotion from the second tier last season, although life back in the big time has proved difficult so far.

Nigel Adkins' side have suffered five defeats and, while both Manchester clubs and Arsenal are included in that statistic, they have just the one victory to their name - a 4-1 defeat of Aston Villa in their last home match.

For Davis, it has been difficult to get used to negative results after a sustained spell of success with Rangers but, having beaten former club Villa, the midfielder is targeting a similar result when Fulham come to St Mary's tomorrow.

"I think it is obviously a different pressure," the Northern Ireland captain, who joined Saints in the summer, said.

"The rest of the lads here are used to winning as well over the last couple of season so everybody's hurting.

"But there is also a realism that you're playing in the Premier Lea gue and every match is tough.

"You need to fight to get results in each and every game, but I think for large periods in each and every game we've showed we're capable of playing at this level.

"It is just about ironing out the little mistakes that have cost us.

"We've looked at it and we've had a tough start to the season in terms of the fixtures.

"We played against some of the top teams but we're now going into a run now where hopefully we can start picking up some points.

"If you're going to achieve anything in any season your home form needs to be good and hopefully on Sunday we can go and get a positive result for the fans."

As well as looking to secure three points on Sunday, Davis is looking forward to catching up with a few old faces.

The 27-year-old only spent a brief period with Fulham during what proved a difficult 2007/08 season for the club, but he still has fond memories of his time in west London.

"I was only there for a short period of time," Davis said. "It was a difficult time for the club in terms of results.

"The team only narrowly missed out on relegation that season but I still have fond memories of playing for the club. It was a good place to go into work every day.

"It was difficult. I had gone there having not played a great deal of football over the six months previously.

"I went there and obviously the team struggled there a little bit and if it wasn't for a run towards the end of the season they would not have stayed up.

"I was only there for six months and then I went on loan to Rangers so it was a short period of my career but a good experience as well."

Jumat, 05 Oktober 2012

Puncheon: Season starts now

Puncheon: 'Three points are needed'

Saints have lost their first four matches back in the top flight, leading some to suggest that manager Nigel Adkins' position is in jeopardy and relegation back to the Championship beckons.

Puncheon could not help but smile when told of such gloomy predictions and, rather than focus on the start to the season, was keen to focus on the positives heading into Saturday's clash with Aston Villa.

"[Being written off] is always a good thing you know because we can use that," the 26-year-old said. "We're always going to be the underdogs as people would say.

"If you're totally honest, if you look at the Man United and Man City games we didn't let them get in their stride.

"We held our own and the good thing is we can only better. We have got no points on the board, being 'rubbish' if everyone wants to say that.

"In football, there is always thin margins. People always say 'they could have done this', 'they could have done that' but now we ha ve got to put things into action ourselves.

"We have a big game on Saturday and three points are needed.

"The Jason Puncheon so you take the positives from those games we've played into the game on Saturday."

Puncheon is one of a handful of Southampton players with Premier League experience, having spent loan spells with Blackpool and QPR during the previous two campaigns.

He only returned from the latter in January and looked certain to leave Southampton for pastures new after a public falling out on Twitter with chairman Nicola Cortese.

However, the pair - rather surprisingly - patched things up and, having helped Saints secure automatic promotion from the Championship, Puncheon is loving life in the top flight.

"It wasn't much so persuasion," he said when asked how he managed to get back into the fold.

"As much as people see what Mr Cortese is about, he is very genuine about what he wants to do.

"If he wants somethin g, he is going to get it. When I first came to this football club he said we would be in the Premier League in four years.

"It's a year ahead of schedule and he has done it. A lot of things that he says he is going to do he does and that can only be good.

"It was always something I could imagine but things happened. That is the past now."

Puncheon is now only concerning himself with the future after learning from some of the mistakes of the past.

"I am 26 now and I have grown up," he said. "I have children, I have got a family to think about and provide for. I have a career to think about and that has only helped.

"Not only that, this football clubs has helped me. As much as there has been ups and down, the football club have been there for me.

"That goes down to the chairman, the manager, the players in the dressing room - that has helped me grow as a person and a character.

"I won't sit here and deny anything as everyone has a past.

"Everyone has a past and without life you don't have a past and you won't have no future.

"Your future is in your own hands and it is only down to you to change it and that is what I've done."

Adkins puts onus on home form

Adkins: Saints host Fulham on Sunday

Saints achieved automatic promotion from the second tier last season thanks in no small part to having the best home record in the division.

After home defeats to Wigan and Manchester United, the south coast side picked up their first Premier League victory at home to Aston Villa in their last match at St Mary's.

Adkins is hoping for a similar result when Martin Jol brings Fulham to Hampshire on Sunday, although the Saints boss knows the west Londoners will be no pushovers.

"It is a match we can lose, but it is a game we're going to look to go and win," he said.

"You have to be positive at home. We have been very good at St Mary's over the last few years and again starting this season.

"The atmosphere in the last home game when we beat Aston Villa 4-1 was electrifying. It was fantastic.

"The supporters lifted the players, the players lifted the supporters so everyone was together as one.

"We produced an excellent perfor mance and got an excellent win. We're under no illusions, though, as Fulham are going to be a tough team to beat.

"We don't think we're just going to turn up and going to win. Fulham have had a very promising start. They're very organised, have good players and have won games this season.

"We know we've got to be at the top of our game, like every game in the Barclays Premier League, but we've got to go and look to win our games at home."

Southampton's performances so far this season have belied their three-point haul, with Rickie Lambert leading a particularly exciting attack.

However, their defence has been worryingly porous and they have conceded a league-high 18 goals already.

Adkins knows they need to tighten up quickly but will not be turning his back on their attacking mindset.

"We've led in four of the games so far this season," Adkins said. "We've done very well and have a mindset that we can go and score goals. We're very p ositive.

"But likewise we have to accept that at this level, keeping clean sheets is going to be very important.

"But when you look at, for example, Manchester City I don't think they've kept a clean sheet. If you look at Liverpool at this moment in time, I don't think they've kept a clean sheet.

"It's a situation that is not just ourselves. The games we have played have been a great challenge and ones we have really embraced and enjoyed.

"But it is about getting points on the board as well without going against the principles you've got."

Adkins may be able to welcome back Morgan Schneiderlin against Fulham after a knee injury kept him out of last weekend's 3-1 defeat at Everton.

The French midfielder was back in training on Friday but Jack Cork faces up to a further five weeks out with an injury to his left knee.

Southampton v Fulham preview

Petric: Doubtful for Fulham

Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin could return after a knee injury.

The French midfielder missed last weekend's defeat at Everton with the complaint but was back in training today.

Jack Cork faces a bit longer out with an injury to his left knee, but goalkeeper Artur Boruc could be involved for the first time after playing for the Under-21s this week.

Fulham striker Mladen Petric is a doubt with a calf problem.

The Croatia international suffered the injury in training today and his absence would be another blow for the Cottagers, whose manager Martin Jol gives Dimitar Berbatov (hip/upper thigh) only a 10 percent chance of figuring on Sunday.

Simon Davies (hip) and Mahamadou Diarra (knee) are also sidelined, but Kieran Richardson returns. Ashkan Dejagah, Philippe Senderos, Pajtim Kasami and Kerim Frei could also be involved if they come through tonight's development team match.

Southampton (from): K Davis, Gazzaniga, Boruc, Ric hardson, Butterfield, Stephens, Clyne, Fox, Shaw, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fonte, Seaborne, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado, Chaplow, De Ridder, Ramirez, Lallana, Schneiderlin, Puncheon, S Davis, Lambert, Rodriguez, Mayuka.

Fulham (from): Schwarzer, Stockdale, Riether, Kelly, Hangeland, Hughes, Senderos, Baird, Smith, Riise, Briggs, Sidwell, Duff, Richardson, Kacaniklic, Kasami, Karagounis, Frei, Dejagah, Ruiz, Petric, Rodallega, Trotta.

Yoshida hungry for Saints win

Yoshida: Targeting three points

The Japan international joined the south coast side from VVV Venlo late in the transfer window and was thrown in at the deep end at the Emirates Stadium.

Jos Hooiveld's first-half injury saw Yoshida drafted into the Saints defence despite only spending one day training with his new team-mates.

The match ended in a 6-1 humbling, leaving Southampton bottom of the table without a point, but Yoshida is confident the Saints will fare better tomorrow.

"In the first half, I played not so good especially as the third goal was my mistake," he said.

"The second half I began to show my skills of bringing it from the back and I have confidence that I can play in the Premier League.

"It was a challenging game for me to play against Arsenal because they are a very big team.

"I was not satisfied but I could enjoy the game against Arsenal because the Emirates is a great stadium and the opponents were very strong.

"That was my Premier L eague debut but I am now looking forward to playing at St Mary's on Saturday.

"I want to show my good qualities to the Southampton supporters and this time win the game."

Yoshida's acquisition doubles the Japanese contingent at St Mary's, where he links up with compatriot Tadanari Lee.

"I asked him many things about the club, city and culture," Yoshida added.

"He said the team was very good, it was a traditional club and the organisation was very good.

"He said life was very nice here. You live by the sea and the food is not so bad. I've not tried fish and chips yet but I think I will do it."

Prem to discuss spending controls

Premier League: Clubs to discuss spending controls

The 20 clubs have been split into two groups of 10 on a geographical basis, with the southern group to meet on Monday and the northern group on Wednesday.

The majority of clubs are in favour of some kind of cost control measure - the sticking points are likely to be which measure is adopted and what the sanctions will be for breaking the rules.

Ideas include adopting UEFA's financial fair play system where clubs must break even, or clubs only being allowed to spend a maximum percentage of their annual income on player costs - for example 70%, the system operated by the European elite club grouping G14 a decade ago.

Another proposal is limiting increases in spending on player wages to 10% a year, as suggested by Sunderland owner Ellis Short.

Perhaps the option most likely to win universal approval is clubs having to be able to guarantee they can operate for several years in the future rather than just one.

Under the guaranteed liabili ty plan, if club have players on five-year contracts, as most do, they would have to be able to prove they can guarantee those funds for the length of those contracts.

In the case of Portsmouth, the club twice went into administration when some of their biggest costs included paying the salaries of high-earning players who were under long-term contracts but whom the club could not afford.

The clubs most opposed to cost control measures are Manchester City, Chelsea and Fulham but even they might be inclined to accept a system to guarantee financial liabilities.

The sanctions for breaking the rules are unlikely to be as drastic as UEFA's system which threatens to exclude clubs from European competition if they do not come close to breaking even.

In the Premier League, a transfer ban or fine is much more likely to be agreed to punish transgressions.

Top-flight clubs will have more income than ever before to spend when the new 3billion-plus dom estic TV deal comes into effect next season, and the league is hopeful there will also be an increase overall in the value of the overseas rights - though it is likely to drop in some territories due to the economic situation.

The league issued an invitation to tender today for the rights to show top-flight matches in north, central and south America and the Caribbean.

Meanwhile, Premier League chiefs have been delighted with approach of both Liverpool and Manchester United ahead of the clubs' meeting this weekend and are hopeful that the pre-match handshake will go off without any controversy, such as players refusing to take part, and that fans will refrain from any offensive songs relating to Hillsborough and Munich.

The league have no intention of ending the routine despite Anton Ferdinand refusing to shake John Terry's or Ashley Cole's hand last weekend.

They expect Luis Suarez, who caused uproar last season by ignoring Patrice Evra's attempt ed handshake, to this time shake hands.

England manager Roy Hodgson's remarks on Thursday about the dearth of English players and the timing of some live TV matches on Sundays caused a raised eyebrow with league chiefs but it is understood they are not intending to react directly to the FA.

Kamis, 04 Oktober 2012

Lambert double helps down Villa

Lambert: Scored twice

Saints came into the match rooted to the bottom of the standings after four successive defeats but secured three points on the south coast as their 30-year-old talisman Rickie Lambert scored twice and set up another.

Their miserable start to life back in the Premier League had looked set to continue after sloppy defending allowed Darren Bent to break the deadlock in the first half.

It was the 15th goal conceded by Nigel Adkins' side in just five top-flight matches but, for once, their inability to defend did not cost them.

Lambert drew the hosts level in the second half after firing home under pressure and the match turned on its head five minutes later.

Nathaniel Clyne slotted home from close range after latching on to a superb through ball from new boy Gaston Ramirez, before Jason Puncheon rattled home after collecting a pass from Lambert, who netted his second of the day from the spot in stoppage time.

The big talk pre-match was a bout Nigel Adkins' gutsy decision to drop club captain Kelvin Davis in favour of Premier League debutant Paulo Gazzaniga.

The 20-year-old Argentinian goalkeeper joined the south coast club from Gillingham in the summer and was one of three changes made after the 6-1 hiding at Arsenal last weekend.

Recent acquisitions Maya Yoshida and Ramirez were handed their first starts for the hosts, who were quickest to settle at St Mary's.

Puncheon saw a neat one-two that was just too strong for Ramirez, who then played through Lambert on the left flank only for the striker to blaze over unbalanced.

For all of Southampton's early pressure they were being reduced to long-range efforts, with former Villa midfielder Steven Davis and Ramirez both screwing wide from distance.

The visitors had not created the same opportunities but were looking dangerous whenever they attacked the hosts' new-look backline, with a late lunging tackle by Jose Fonte preventing Bent.

Going forward Adam Lallana was proving Southampton's most dangerous outlet and attempted an over-head kick during a penalty box melee on the half-hour mark.

That was caught comfortably by Brad Guzan, and when Villa broke, Stephen Ireland's deep cross was volleyed wide by Barry Bannan.

It was a warning shot that Saints failed to heed as Bent handed Villa a 36th-minute lead.

Saints failed to clear their lines as Ireland's mis-hit shot fell to the England international, who reacted quickly to ghost in between Yoshida and Danny Fox to tap home.

It was just reward for Villa as their tactics of frustrating the hosts and waiting for a mistake by their leaky defence paid dividends.

Ron Vlaar was booked as half-time approached for a trip before the break, where both sides made changes.

Ashley Westwood replaced Ireland for Villa, while Saints hauled off Fox and brought on right-back Frazer Richardson.

Clyne switched to the left as a result for Saints, who saw Puncheon test Guzan from an acute angle seconds after the restart.

Villa, though, were playing confidently with Bent forcing Gazzaniga into action at his near post after latching on to a nice through ball by Benteke.

The Belgium international was impressing on his first start and should have extended Villa's advantage in the 50th minute, meeting a Bannan corner with a powerful header that flew just over.

Eric Lichaj was booked for a late challenge on Morgan Schneiderlin as Southampton pushed for an equaliser, with referee Jon Moss waving away penalty appeals from Lambert at the resulting-free-kick, denying him a chance at levelling from the spot.

However, the 30-year-old would not be stopped for long as he expertly controlled a driven Lallana cross from the right and lashed home under pressure from four Villa defenders.

The 58th-minute leveller seemed to lift a weight off the Southampton players' shoulde rs as Lallana soon flashed a 25-yard effort just over, before Clyne then snuck in to put Saints ahead.

Having started the move, the defender burst into the box and collected an exquisite Ramirez ball to slot home from close range in the 63rd minute.

Clyne was booked in the aftermath as Villa introduced Gabby Agbonlahor and Joe Bennett in a bid to stem the flow, with the latter's first action seeing Puncheon cut past him and curl just wide.

The winger soon had the goal his performance deserved, though, collecting a pass from Lambert and showing good control before rifling home from the edge of the six-yard box.

Puncheon received a standing ovation from the majority of the 30,713 inside St Mary's when he was substituted, with replacement Emmanuel Mayuka curling inches wide in the 78th minute.

Mayuka saw a shot saved at the near post as the clock wound down before he was brought down in the box by Guzan in stoppage time.

The American re ceived a booking for the challenge and Lambert slotted home the spot-kick to give Saints their first Premier League victory since defeating Norwich 4-3 in April 2005.

Southampton v A Villa reaction

Saints came into the match rooted to the bottom of the standings after four successive defeats and looked on course for another loss when Darren Bent gave Villa a first-half lead.

However, Rickie Lambert drew the hosts level and then played a part in the build-up as Nathaniel Clyne tucked away a superb ball from Gaston Ramirez.

Jason Puncheon saw a shot deflected in by Villa defender Ciaran Clark shortly afterwards, before Lambert netted from the spot in stoppage time to secure a victory that helps lift the pressure off the newly-promoted side.

"I think it is understandable when you lose the first games of the season [there is a bit of tension and anxiety]," Adkins said.

"It is always a situation that could be pressurised, if you like. We keep talking to players about working through the process.

"We want to pass the football and everyone is well aware of that. We've done it on many, many occasions.

"I think the supporters under stand that as well and there was a massive togetherness all the way through the stadium together.

"One or two passes may have gone astray but there was a real belief about what we do. We scored some good goals and arguably could have got a couple more.

"It is great that we have got a football club where everyone is united together.

"We have come a long way in a short space of time and [even] sometimes when things aren't quite going our way, everyone pulls together.

"Everyone has worked very, very hard from the chairman all the way down. We have got some fantastic staff, some fantastic football players and importantly the supporters, who are outstanding.

"They get behind the players and the team. They know what we are trying to achieve, what we are achieving and, together as one, we're doing it."

It was quite a return to form by Southampton after last week's 6-1 hiding at Arsenal.

Adkins shook things up in a bid to change his s ide's fortunes, bringing in Ramirez, Maya Yoshida and Paulo Gazzaniga for their full Premier League debuts.

The latter was a surprise inclusion, with the 20-year-old Argentinian goalkeeper replacing club captain Kelvin Davis after he conceded 14 goals in Southampton's first four Premier League matches.

"They are decisions that all managers have to make," Adkins said. "Kelvin Davis is an outstanding professional. He has been fantastic since I joined this football club and has been an ever-present for us.

"I've got to make a decision about what I have to go and do. I spoke to Kelvin on Thursday about it and he reacted exactly how I imagined he would.

"He has been a total professional, got right behind the players and has given Paulo a lot of support and Paulo has gone and put in a good performance today."

While Southampton can celebrate a vital first three points, Villa left St Mary's wondering what could have been.

Christian Benteke c ame agonisingly close to doubling their advantage shortly into the second half, before manager Paul Lambert's namesake inspired a superb comeback.

"The first half I thought we were worthy of it but you can't defend as deep as that and expect to get a 1-0," Lambert said.

"We had a couple of chances to make it two and we were okay for 50 minutes.

"They have been down before in games so there was no need to panic. At 2-1 you are still in the game but we have moments like that.

"I never get too high when we win or too low when we lose.

"The lads know, they don't need me to tell them what's good and what's not. The first half we were fine but then we gave ourselves too much to do."

Holt blasts 'ridiculous' omission

Holt: Overlooked by Hodgson

The 31-year-old netted 15 Premier League goals last season to finish as the second highest-scoring Englishman behind Manchester United's Wayne Rooney.

He was nevertheless overlooked by Hodgson in the build-up to the Three Lions' campaign in Poland and Ukraine, and is not holding his breath for a future call-up.

"I gave up on that," Holt told BBC Radio Norfolk. "I think I'll never be in it. Roy's come in and picking his players.

"When two friendlies came up and I wasn't included, it was ridiculous to be honest.

"He hasn't given anyone opportunities - people like Nathan Dyer and Danny Graham from Swansea didn't even get a look in, but that's life."

And Holt believes he is not the only player not being given a fair crack of the whip, picking out former Rochdale team-mate Rickie Lambert - who has scored four league goals for Southampton this term - as a prime example.

"He's scoring the goals," the Carlisle-born player added. "He's done well. But I think any neutral looking at that list (the latest England squad) could have written it down beforehand and not been far off.

"Unless Rickie Lambert scores 25 goals or bags 10 in the next two months I don't think he'll get close."

Lambert: The lads are buzzing

Lambert: Scoring goals means everything

Saints started their first campaign back in the top flight for seven years in the worst possible fashion, losing all four opening fixtures.

Lambert, who had never previously played in the Premier League, was one of the shining lights of Nigel Adkins' side in those defeats, scoring against both Manchester sides.

The 30-year-old netted a further two on Saturday and was the catalyst to Saints picking up their first points of the season with a 4-1 defeat of Aston Villa at St Mary's.

"It means everything to me," said Lambert, who has four goals to his name so far. "I think everyone can see in my face when I score a goal it means everything.

"I am just happy that the goals I managed got us the three points.

"As nice as those feelings were the other weeks, we ended up getting nothing so those feelings were a little bit bittersweet.

"To get those three points was what matters. It was a massive win. The first points are the hardest and we have managed to get off the mark.

"We believe we should have been on at least three points before we started the match so we were a little disappointed but there wasn't any pressure on us.

"We knew we were confident we would win and we managed to get three points, so the lads are buzzing."

Saints had looked on course for another loss when Darren Bent gave Villa a first-half lead at St Mary's.

However, Lambert's brace along with a Nathaniel Clyne drive and Jason Puncheon's deflected effort handed the hosts all three points.

"He highlighted things we weren't doing properly in the first half," Lambert said.

"We weren't getting in behind them enough.

"I don't think we played badly in the first half. I thought we were the better team, just unlucky to go 1-0 down.

"We weren't penetrating enough and in the second half I think we started to move. We pushed them back."

It was quite a return to form by Southampton afte r their 6-1 mauling by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last weekend.

Adkins made three changes from that side, including giving a full Premier League debut to club-record signing Gaston Ramirez.

The 12million man did not disappoint, putting in a mesmeric display behind Lambert and exquisitely setting up Clyne for his goal.

"He is something special," Lambert said of the Uruguay international.

"Straight away when he came in the building I knew at training he was a bit special.

"He showed everyone against Villa how good he actually is. To play alongside him, Adam Lallana and 'Punch' (Puncheon) makes my job a lot, lot easier."

Saints will be hoping to build a winning momentum on Tuesday in their Capital One Cup tie with Sheffield Wednesday.

Opponents Villa, meanwhile, face a tough test against reigning Premier League champions Manchester City - a match Paul Lambert is hoping for a surprise victory from.

"I don't lie in the past, I just go to the next game," the Villa boss said.

"The good thing is we are playing again on Tuesday, albeit against one of the best teams in Europe, but we will go to try and win it.

"You can't ask for any more effort. We win, we lose, I don't blame anybody.

"The lads have done fine when I've asked them to do it but you don't defend that way."

Lambert has Golden Boot aim

Lambert: On target against Villa

The Saints star is on four goals with a number of players, one off Manchester United's Robin van Persie.

The 30-year-old is hoping he can continue banging the goals in for the newly promoted Saints having helped them to their first win of the season over Aston Villa at the weekend.

"If I'm up there with Van Persie at the end of the season I'll be happy," he said.

"I'm very proud to be up at the top of the leading scorers, but it's only five games in. The Golden Boot is a massive achievement. I'll give it a go.

"But I'm just trying to help my team get three points.

"This is the first time I've scored and we've won the game and this is the feeling I want.

"I'm not nervous about playing in the Premier League. It's more excitement really; I'm enjoying every game, every stadium."

Saints taking cup seriously

Lambert: Could be rested in the cup

Saints come into the Capital One Cup third-round encounter fresh from a morale-boosting 4-1 defeat of Aston Villa, which saw them notch up their first Premier League points of the campaign.

Many of those that started at the weekend will be rested tomorrow in favour of the south coast side's peripheral squad players and academy talents.

That said, Crosby insists Southampton are taking the competition seriously and expect a tough clash against Dave Jones' Wednesday.

"It's a competition that we're taking very seriously and we're down to the last 32," Nigel Adkins' assistant told Saints Player.

"Over the last few years, we have blooded a lot of young players in this competition because the vision of the club is to get a lot of home-grown players through into the first team so we'll continue to do that.

"There's competition for places now so there's a chance for other players to come into the team and stake a claim.

"We made change s at Stevenage [in the second round] and, if you look back over last season, we made changes in this competition then as well.

"We are taking it seriously because it is a pathway to a major competition and a major trophy.

"We're up against a very good Sheffield Wednesday team. Dave Jones has done an incredible job and at the back end of last season he had a great impact.

"I think they'll come here trying to cause an upset."

Opponents Wednesday head to St Mary's on the back of four successive defeats.

Before that, though, the Owls were unbeaten in 19 games and their last win knocked Premier League Fulham out of the Capital One Cup.

Crosby is wary of the threat posed by last season's League One runners-up, who will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Southampton and Norwich by securing back-to-back promotions to the top flight.

"They might think it's a little bit easy, but it certainly isn't," he said.

"When one team has done it and then another team, people see that the momentum from winning games in the previous season means getting off to a good start breeds confidence again.

"Huddersfield have got off to a good start in the Championship as well.

"[Wednesday] have brought in some good players and a lot of experience in the summer, and Dave Jones is a good manager who has done a good job wherever he's been at. They'll come here looking to cause an upset."