Leicester Away Won 1 – 2
Good teams tend to have settled line-ups so no surprise that Saints made three changes for the visit to Leicester! It meant a first start for Mara up front, partnering Adam Armstrong as two wide strikers while Bednarek was sacrificed in a move to a back four, meaning extra pressure on Djnepo’s defensive skills. And defending is what Saints did for most of a first half whose stats showed 71% Leicester possession, but, just as tellingly, zero shots on target. Somehow Southampton were credited with one, but it’s hard to recall when, as Mara’s pacy conversion when sent clear by Elyounoussi was clearly offside so doesn’t count. As well as defensive organisation, the team has to cut out silly errors and whilst in this game there were fewer than in most, we were lucky that Lavia’s misplaced pass wasn’t punished. After the break, Salisu wasn’t as fortunate when he committed an unnecessary foul on Pérez in a dangerous position, but there has to be more criticism of Bazunu’s placement of his wall as Maddison was able to shoot inside the near post. Southampton’s response seemed to suggest that they weren’t prepared to let so much hard work go unrewarded and they were helped by Ralph’s first substitution which introduced Adams for Mara, also moving Aribo forward. Suddenly all the action was around the home goal and for the second time ever, that most unlikely of ploys, the semi-long Salisu throw in, provided an equaliser, poked in by Adams with an assist for Aribo as well as the thrower. A coupon-busting away win was there for the taking, and indeed Saints grabbed it thanks to an 83rd minute goal: a previously anonymous Ward-Prowse won the ball in midfield and when the move sent it back to him, a telling cross was met with a scissors kick volley by Adams that was too hot for Ward. The Foxes’ miserable shot tally (still just the Maddison goal on target) wasn’t extended in the remaining time and Adams so nearly had the match ball to take home as well as the three points when he hit the post with less than a minute remaining.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
10. Ché Adams. Not too many takers for last week’s suggestion of Aribo for a telling half hour on the pitch, but Adams managed an extra goal in his turn off the bench and has to be put in the frame.
22. Mohammed Salisu. A much improved performance in a more suitable role and even manged a sort of assist with that long-ish throw technique.
37. Armel Bella-Kotchap. Early days, and Premier League coaches may well find some flaws in his game, but he does present a formidable obstacle