Southampton 0-0 Stoke: Stalemate keeps pressure on relegation rivals
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 03/03/18 8:29pm
Southampton and Stoke played out a tense but turgid 0-0 draw at St Mary's that leaves both sides still precariously placed near the bottom of the Premier League.
Badou Ndiaye came close to breaking the deadlock in the first half but the midfielder's header was tipped around the post by Alex McCarthy.
Southampton were the better side in the second period and Jack Butland was forced into making saves from Joshua Sims and Cedric Soares before substitute Sofiane Boufal headed wide from close range.
The result leaves Stoke in the drop zone in 19th place, with the Saints only a point outside of the relegation places.
Southampton: McCarthy (6), Cedric (6), Stephens (7), Hoedt (6), Bertrand (7), Lemina (7), Romeu (6), Redmond (7), Sims (6), Tadic (6), Carrillo (6).
Subs: Boufal (6), Gabbiadini (6), Long (6)
Stoke: Butland (7), Bauer (6), Zouma (7), Martins Indi (7), Stafylidis (6), Cameron (6), Allen (7), Ndiaye (6), Diouf (6), Shaqiri (7), Choupo-Moting (6).
Subs: Pieters (6), Jese (6), Crouch (6)
Man of the match: Kurt Zouma
For Stoke manager Paul Lambert, it is the second straight game his side have shown their battling qualities away from home to take a point having drawn at Leicester, and their defensive improvement under the Scot was on display once more.
Kurt Zouma and Bruno Martins Indi impressed in containing the Southampton forward line, but the only incident of note in the first 45 minutes came when Mame Diouf was forced off the pitch after a collision with Wesley Hoedt.
Diouf had appeared to intentionally stamp on the Dutch defender's foot, an incident that was not picked up by referee Anthony Taylor, and Hoedt got his retribution moments later as the Senegalese forward was forced off with a shoulder injury as both went up for an aerial challenge.
Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino made one change to the side that drew 1-1 at Burnley in the as Joshua Sims started in place of James Ward-Prowse. Stoke named an unchanged side to the one that drew at Leicester.
Stoke came closest to breaking the deadlock before the interval as Ndiaye rose to meet Xherdan Shaqiri's cross but McCarthy did well to get down to his left to tip the header around the post.
Southampton improved in the second period as Sims forced Butland into an immediate save with his feet before a fine last-ditch tackle from Jack Stephens on Maxim Choupo-Moting denied Stoke on the counter-attack.
But it was largely one-way traffic towards the visitors' goal as Cedric's rising half-volley forced Butland into an acrobatic save before Boufal somehow headed wide from Nathan Redmond's cross with the goal at his mercy.
But the lack of quality in the final third, so often the issue for both sides all season, meant neither deserved to win as they both were forced to settle for a point.
- Southampton have picked up just one win in their last 16 Premier League games (D9 L6), and are winless in their last eight at St Mary's.
- Stoke registered an away clean sheet in the Premier League for the first time in their last 10 games in the competition, since a 1-0 win against Watford in October.
- Saints have failed to score in three consecutive home Premier League meetings with Stoke, their joint-longest run without scoring against a single opponent on home soil in the competition (also v Wimbledon in 1998 and Bolton in 2003).
- The Potters have failed to find the back of the net in five of their last nine league games, netting just five goals in total in those games.
- Southampton mustered 18 shots in this game, the most they've attempted without scoring in a Premier League game since the opening day of the season against Swansea (29).
- Under Paul Lambert, Stoke have lost just one of their six Premier League games (W1 D4), after losing six of the eight before that (W1 D1)
Mauricio Pellegrino: "We deserved to get something more. I thought we dominated the game in the second half. But it's about efficiency. We couldn't convert the possession into goals.
"Obviously, when you make a change you want to make an impact in the game, and we played with more tempo in the second half. We have to learn to do this from the beginning."
Paul Lambert: "I think any point you get in this division is really good. It's a tough game, and we lost Mame (Diouf) at a tough time as I thought he was a threat, and we looked really good going forward on the counter-attack in the first half.
"We defended strongly and we may have lost this game a month or so ago. It's another positive point, and I'm delighted with the team not getting beat. I love it, I love the pressure of it. It's big-time football, and I can't praise the lads enough for their efforts."
Man of the match - Kurt Zouma
In a game of few chances, the Stoke defence continued their resurgence with Zouma showing further signs of maturity during his loan spell from Chelsea.
His positional play was outstanding here, and the clean sheet owed much to his discipline and athleticism during Southampton's second-half onslaught.
Southampton whipped countless balls into the box through Ryan Bertrand and Redmond, but the French defender made several vital clearances and limited the number of shots on Butland's goal.
The pundit - Paul Merson
"Southampton were the better side, definitely second half. Stoke were dangerous on the counter-attack but it was just their final pass which wasn't good enough.
"I wouldn't say Southampton lay siege on the Stoke goal but I thought Butland was very today, and fair play to him as he made a mistake last week.
"Southampton will be kicking themselves now as they have all these away games now and are also in the FA Cup. They go to Wigan and other teams will be playing on that day.
"They'll be playing catch up. The best chance fell to Boufal and if it was Carrillo or Gabbiadini they would've scored. I don't know where the goals are going to come. They just huff and puff."
Southampton visit Newcastle at St James' Park next Saturday while Stoke host Manchester City on March 12, live on Monday Night Football.