THE VERDICT: Watford win can be a season-changer
HOW the landscape will have changed at the bottom of the Premier League if Saints can repeat their Watford win against Norwich City.
Back-to-back home wins, after eight matches and 230 days without one, would be the perfect way for Saints to mark Ralph Hasenhuttl’s first anniversary in charge.
After an abject first half against Watford, Saints were heading for a fifth successive home defeat and bottom position in the Premier League.
It would have been very hard to come back from that but the missing VAR footage and James Ward-Prowse’s delicious free-kick are potentially season-changing moments.
Clearly, it’s imperative Saints start against Norwich as they finished against Watford and if the atmosphere from the last 15 minutes can be bottled from the first whistle, so much the better.
For if they can produce a similar result on Wednesday, Newcastle United could well be in striking distance on Sunday.
Hasenhuttl should take a lot of credit for his substitutions against Watford.
Shane Long and Sofiane Boufal provided the energy and the inspiration that was patently missing for the best part of an hour.
But with the high press back to the fore, Saints’ 4-2-2-2 became a 4-2-4 as Boufal and Moussa Djenepo launched pincer attacks down the flanks.
So much for being an injury doubt for the game after stubbing his toe on a kitchen table.
Boufal helped throw the kitchen sink at Watford, tormenting them down the left while Djenepo combined his sleight of foot with a sleight of hand to seemingly send VAR - as well as Jose Holebas - the wrong way.
Saints were given the break they so desperately needed and one that may well prove a pivotal moment in their season.
Even with VAR available, the old adage that mistakes ‘even out over time’ can still ring true as those players involved in the 2-2 draw at Watford two seasons ago, when Abdoulaye Doucoure handled the ball in the build-up to his last-minute equaliser, will attest.
Saints had conceded late levellers in their previous three Premier League matches against Watford.
Those memories and their recent Emirates disappointment added to the anxiety during the last ten minutes.
Andre Gray, scorer of the last-minute equaliser when the sides last met, missed the target with a gilt-edged chance this time.
Maybe, just maybe, Saints fortunes are starting to change for the better.