Saints 2-0 Leicester City
Saints were clear favourites to consolidate their second place slot against struggling Leicester, and started brightly enough. However, if the visitors displayed little attacking intent, they at least had more heart that our friends from Sunderland (as an obvious example) and a well-organised back line kept chances to a minimum – the best we could manage before the break was an opportunist second attempt from Mané that cleared the bar.
Davis had limped out of things on 39 minutes, the swiftness of his departure causing some to wonder whether it was an excuse to change things rather than the result of a serious knock.
Meneer Koeman summarised the opening period in his own idiosyncratic way: “It was not good enough in the first half to score.” But the coach does seem to have a plan B for these situations, and in this case it was to move Mané in particular nearer to Pellè, presumably to allow Bertrand more space on the left.
The move seemed to have paid an early dividend but Mané was offside when he converted the full back’s low cross, and as the game went on at 0-0, he was eventually replaced by Long, whose game is more suited to that plan B.
This time it worked perfectly when Pellè was able to hold the ball up on the edge of the box before setting up the sub for a fine finish. One goal soon became two when The Foxes managed to get hopelessly caught upfield from Schmeichel’s clearance and Long found himself unchallenged as he chased onto Wanyama’s return upfield before scoring neatly.
Wood showed that those one-on-ones are not always that easy to convert by making a complete hash of Leicester’s only chance, so Saints already had the game won before Long was denied a hat trick by Schmeichel’s left paw in the very last action of the game. Memo to Ronnie K, though: it doesn’t matter how wet and windy it is, that blanket you seemed to be huddling under on the bench is never going to look good.
LSSC Man of the Match: Nathaniel Clyne. Long’s 22 minutes on the pitch isn’t really enough, although Wanyama comes close for his assist and overall play, while Bertrand made good contributions as well.