Long on target for Saints
Published 14/01/2016 | 02:30
Watford have probably not been compared to Arsenal very often, but after last night they have something in common with the Premier League leaders: they are the only two teams that Southampton have beaten in the past 11 matches, and that back-handed compliment is the only one that Watford deserve.
They were unrecognisable as the high-energy side of autumn and, but for Southampton's recent difficulties, they would have suffered a repeat of Arsenal's four-goal St Stephen's Day humiliation at the very least.
Saints celebrated, but that failure to take chances that has blighted their results since early November was still in evidence despite this easy victory.
Ronald Koeman's side dominated and deserved far more than Shane Long's fifth league goal of the season and Dusan Tadic's fourth, scored two minutes after he had taken the field as a substitute for Sadio Mané.
Until the goalless draw at Vicarage Road in the first meeting between the teams this season, this had been a fixture that guaranteed goals - their previous scoreless encounter had been in 1921, with three a minimum for most of this century.
That total could have been passed by half-time as Southampton controlled a Watford side who reacted to danger far too late as Saints took the lead in the 17th minute.
Nobody moved to challenge Matt Targett as he received the ball on the left and measured his cross towards Long, who escaped Miguel Britos and glanced his diving header past Heurelho Gomes.
Long and Mané might each have scored before Tadic ran on to a flick by Steven Davis in the 73rd minute rolled it under Gomes' right hand. It looked so easy that you wondered why nobody had done it before.