Leicester Home Lost 1 – 4
In recent games Southampton have adopted a twin track approach to Premier League opponents, especially at St. Mary’s: a cagey strategy to counter high-budget teams, but something more expansive to cope with those who park the bus. Opponents Leicester fall into neither category, but unnoticed by Saints who paid the price big time. After eleven minutes, Van Dijk slipped and so was unable to challenge Okazaki, and then Lemina slipped to allow Mahrez space to run on goal. The team is usually so well organised when the opposition have the ball, but now two players were out of position, and Mahrez took full advantage. Saints then went two down twenty minutes later from a training ground move: a corner was hit long for Fuchs to volley, an effort that should never have reached Forster, but the keeper eventually did well to kick the ball clear – only to Okazaki who scored from close range. Could things get any worse? You bet they could, as King tapped in Maguire’s cross for maybe the easiest goal he’ll ever score. Three down at the break was bad enough, but even that scoreline flatters Southampton who were grateful to their goalkeeper and a remarkable goal-line clearance by Lemina. A half time substitution introduced Gabbiadini for Romeu which left us even more vulnerable to breakaways, while the generally sloppy approach continued. Then we scored! Yoshida headed home a corner, thanks to a point blank air shot by Tadić which at least caused confusion (nice gloves today, though, Dušan). Unlikely as it had seemed at the interval, Saints could, indeed should, have been back in this game, but although Austin got on the end of Bertrand’s low cross, he could only direct the ball at the recovering Schmeichel from a yard out. 2-3 would have got the joint rocking, but down the other end Okazaki was more alert than Yoshida and scored at the near post for 1-4. There were still over twenty minutes to go, but none of that passage of play made it into the highlights package – with good reason. So a triumphal return to Hampshire for Claude Puel, and the first goals he’s coached there in six games – shows what you can achieve with a bit of pace in the squad.
LSSC Man of the Match: Fraser Forster, despite conceding four goals. But for him, Leicester could have amassed a cricket score in the opening 45 minutes alone.