"We just couldn't get the break, we just needed a bit of luck in front of goal today."
That was the post-match comment from Redknapp after we'd just lost 1-0 away at QPR last season. A newly promoted side away from home. The side we put out had 'the likes' of Modric, Rafa, Parker and King as well as Bale, Defoe and Sandro.
It's not the hardest spot to notice that we've been lacking the free-flowing attractive football that we'd become accustomed to last season. We seem more lacklustre on the break, more conservative when in possession and, at times, seem as though we look backwards instead of forwards for a pass. This, of course, is what comes part & parcel with selling your strongest players. Players that are unlikely to be replaced like for like - in the short run anyway.
What we have been doing under AVB, though, is winning when we've been poor. We've seen ourselves become more resilient as the season has progressed and taken our chances when presented with them. If this Southampton game was played last season, you could almost have envisaged the hosts nicking an equaliser with one of the final touches of the game. I anticipated a struggle yesterday. I saw Ricky Lambert waving his genitalia in front of our back 4, much like Lukaku did when he came on for West Brom earlier on in the season.
In previous games we'd struggled when a long ball was hit up to the forward man. As good as Gallas has been this season, this is still something he'd fallen short on. Not winning the first header. It was almost like primary school again as the bigger forward would bully him into mistakes. This was my primary concern. Although, come full-time, I was exceptionally pleased with his performance. We still have a tendency to sit off teams in the second half which is something that needs to be addressed and eradicated. We pressed Southampton in the first half and they barely got a sniff of Friedel's 18 yard box. We sat off in the second and we conceded. Of course, a pressing game is a tough nut to keep up for 90 minutes but we need to work on bringing it into the second half as well as the first.
Southampton will be content with survival this year. Newly promoted sides are never always easy pickings to go away to. We've yet to put out a full strength side, we're not playing at our best but we're picking up points and this, arguably, is something we struggled to do for a large part of last season. We've yet to encounter a situation in which "a bit more luck was needed in front of goal".