Southampton At Leicester City The Verdict
Sunday, 17th Jan 2021 10:45
Saturday evening saw Saints fans experience a strange feeling, losing a game of football is not something that we have had to endure much in the last year, we were down to the bare bones and battled hard, but ultimately it was not enough.
The bad news an hour before the kick off was that Danny Ings would be playing no part in the game, but we could still get a decent side out, however the bench contained several names that all but the most dedicated Saints supporter would not have heard of.
Indeed you would not have many arguments that the three most influential players this season and the rock that our success is built on are Jannik Vestergaard, Oriol Romeu & Danny Ings, they have been the spine of or team and all three were missing from the squad for the trip to the King Power.
Most teams would struggle if they were to lose their 3 best players and add to that other key members of the squad like Nathan Redmond & Moussa Djenepo are out injured and it is testament to Ralph Hasenhuttl that we can still compete.
But we started well and looked quote comfortable, Will Smallbone slotting in on the right and Stuart Armstrong switching to the left , it was an end to end game and both sides had their chances.
As half time approached there was nothing between the sides, but then came the key moment in the game, James Maddison shrugged off Jack Stephens and lashed the ball from a tight angle, it was certainly a fast and hard shot, but Alex McCarthy had got his angles wrong and seemed to be expecting a low shot and got in a bit of a mix and the ball flashed over his head and in at the near post.
This was just about our only lac of concentration during the game, but it was enough and it turned out to be the winning goal although minutes later Saints almost equalised with Schmeichel having to make a superb save from a Ryan Bertrand piledriver.
After the break Saints kept their shape and kept going, There was more woe for Saints on the hour mark when the impressive Will Smallbone had to go off with a knee injury, it was from an innocuous challenge and that usually means bad news for both the players who can ill afford another injury, especially since Ryan Bertrand will miss the next game after picking up his 5th yellow card of the season.
Both sides could have scored in the second with Stuart Armstrong rattling the bar with a 25 yard shot, it looked a penalty as the ball dropped and Shane Long was bundled over but he was off side in the build up and so Leicester were given a free kick.
But it was Leicester who got the second goal of the game deep into injury time as Saints pressed forward for the equaliser, the Foxes winning the ball and getting it forward to Harvey Barnes who was through on goal and gave Alex McCarthy no chance, it was harsh for Saints and a goal that had it been conceded earlier in the game would have been poor, but no blame can be given, with only seconds left of injury time we had to throw caution to the wind and gamble, this time it didn't pay off.
There were plenty of plus points to our performance, under adversity we didn't crumble, but for us it was a game too far with the squad missing so many key players, some will moan about the depth of the squad, yes of course we could do with another player or two, but I cannot remember another time when we have had so many injuries at once, for me it actually shows that the squad has depth and a number of youngsters who can step up to the plate when needed.
We took on Leicester a team who could well finish in the top 4 this season and matched them all the way with a depleted team.
We have to take this defeat and learn from it, unless the key players are back and back fast, we can still win games, but it will be tough and lt might be that we have to accept that it is a top 10 place we are fighting for not top 6, that will be decided by how quickly we get the spine of our team back.
It was a disappointing night, but only from the perspective that we were beaten and it is a feeling that we are not used to of late, but there were still a lot of plus points and going forward both this season and next, we can truly be a side that competes.
Photo: Action Images
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|halftimeorange added 11:01 - Jan 17|
There was a clear foul on Diallo in the build-up to the first goal, completely missed by the referee who had a poor game in view of the few fouls of any note that were committed by either side in what was a free-flowing an entertaining game. In fact, Saints played some lovely football, particularly in the fist half. Jack Stephens lack of pace and guile was partly to blame for the opener, not particularly Mccarthy's positioning. He'd have been lucky to stop that shot on any day. The second goal came as a result of Jack giving the ball away with a really poor pass when most of our side were in advance of him trying to snatch an equaliser. I agree that Smallbone had a very promising outing. Our two acronyms - JWP and KWP - were quiet by their recent standards and that rather muted our attack. Not many will beat the Saints on this performance.
|davidargyll added 11:07 - Jan 17|
Control the midfield and you control the game. That’s what we did for most of H1 but the Foxes got in our faces in H2 with the benefit of their goal earlier and they controlled it for a lot more of the time. Coupled with the fact that our threadbare squad simply didn’t get the rub of the green and the result was not really a surprise.
Most of the squad - and especially Stuart Armstrong, Will Smallbone, Jan Bednarek and Ibrahima Diallo - did really well in the circumstances but I did think that Che just looked off the pace, though I’m sure will be back to his old self shortly. And on another day the foul on Diallo would have been given and we wouldn’t have gone one down. Equally one of our excellent attempts would have gone in and we might have got a draw or even a win.
Overall though our kids were pretty impressive against what is a pretty tasty Leicester squad, which could easily have been three or four up but for some deplorable finishing and our excellent defence.
I guess the way we feel now is not dissimilar to how Liverpool must have felt after their visit to SMS a couple of weeks ago, “just not our day”.
But then again had we drawn our last 2 games, we would have been more than pleased with two points, but instead winning one and losing one puts us one point better.
My only real criticism of the whole night was of Ryan Bertrand. He may have “expressed his desire to stay at St Mary’s”, but what a terrible way to show it by being a complete moron getting booked like that and so missing the next game; an appalling example for the youngsters and I hope he gets a real bollocking from Ralph.
|felly1 added 11:15 - Jan 17|
Thought Stephens was at fault more than Mccarthy for the first goal, but then again I'm more inclined to see it as a top class bit of skill and pace from Maddison. Rarely in a game of football against good sides like Leicester your defence won't get done occasionally for some pace and skill.
Overall I thought we played quite well and looked sharp in attack and we clearly missed Ings for the finishing touch.
Smallbone was impressive and my Saints MOTM was Bertie.
|A1079 added 11:16 - Jan 17|
Just as some like to focus on the defence, a defence that has served us well this season, even when it has had to adjust to losses in personnel, I would equally like to see some focus in our lack of ability and cutting edge in and around the opponents box. Our conversion rate is poor and beyond Ings no one else seems to know where the net is. if you can't score you stand a good chance of ultimately losing the game. We highlight a mistake made by a defender or the goalkeeper which yes, can cost us a goal but we don't highlight the failure of those at the other end of the pitch which can cost us a win or even a draw.
But, as I stated last night, it was a good entertaining game and we did well considering the options we had with some good football (especially in the first half) and some good link up play. Given the injuries and loss of key players we held our own and there were some good performances. As disappointing as it is to ever lose, I felt we did ourselves proud and there really are some young promising talent in the team.
|saintmark1976 added 11:40 - Jan 17|
You don’t save goals like Maddison scored unless you get lucky Nick. If he had stood up and the ball was then hit low you still would have criticised McCarthy.
My concern is not with the defence but more with the attack who lately appear well off the pace.
In reference to Bertrand.I assume that his one match ban will be served by missing the cup game during the week? If so then it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Perhaps he got himself booked on purpose should it prove to be the case?
|TimSaint added 11:41 - Jan 17|
If we are analysing the goals, then Stephens and McCarthy were at fault for both.
Jack was too lightweight for the 1st, but guess he was scared Maddison would dive if he touched him. AMc got his angles wrong, stayed on his line and dropped to his knees.
Jack's woeful pass gave away possession when we were all pushing up for an equaliser and left them with an easy break. AMc surprisingly instead of coming out to narrow the angles, moved back to his 6 yard line and presented Barnes with a much bigger area to aim at and he duly notched.
We did create some good chances, but not really enough and it was frustrating that especially when behind, instead of crossing or even shooting, we end up passing it all the way back. With more luck, we could have scored a couple and the foul on Diallo could have been given. (Why didn't VAR pick up on this ?)
As for Bert, when put through brilliantly by JWP, he put it to close to the keeper, but then I guess he is a defender after all. I have a theory about his yellow card. It was tactical. He was on 4 yellows, got another deliberately so that his 1 game ban is for the Shrews game, that he would be rested for anyway, so he will have a clean record for when the league resumes. Thoughts ?
Overall, a little disappointed, but considering the huge amount of absentees, I was quite impressed with the performance.
|davidargyll added 11:46 - Jan 17|
My understanding is that RB’s ban is for the next PL game...regardless he was idiotic...
|TimSaint added 11:58 - Jan 17|
Provided the 1 game ban can be used in the FA Cup, a game he would be rested for anyway, then perhaps it was more tactical genius than idiotic !! :-)
I'm sure someone will confirm shortly
|wibbersda added 12:21 - Jan 17|
There is a theme happening here. Every time we are chasing the game the opposition compact so deep that we don't seem to break teams down. Additionally, we fail to recognise this and should just be pumping the ball in the box. Cannot believe JWP turning back to our goal when he is the best one to deliver crosses into their box, especially with the giant N'Lundulu upfront. What about the foul in the lead-up to their goal, and what about the possible offside. I felt the Ref definitely made some poor decisions. If we had scored first I feel we would have won this game. Still hey ho, onwards and upwards.
|JohnT added 12:48 - Jan 17|
I thought for both goals there were players offside as the ball was played there are a couple of screenshots on Saints Social that show this...
|schatfield added 13:04 - Jan 17|
Let's be clear, the maddison goal was WORLD CLASS. No defender or goalie was ever stopping that. Aside from that goal we outplayed them in first half without our first team. Unsure why no one ever sees this. In addition Stephens played very well but the usual clowns take the quality goal as an opportunity to bring him down. 2nd haĺf we struggled but this is a very good Leicester side and no shame losing here. Applaud your team.
|Saintaxidriver added 13:04 - Jan 17|
Wasn't Smallbone on the left? Difficult game and mistakes were made particularly by the ref, but a learning experience for some of the younger players and when we get back the spine of the team we will be ready to fly again. Be good if we could offload some of our uneeded players and bring in a couple with some experience but that doesn't seem likely.
|codge added 13:11 - Jan 17|
Jack Stephens enough said.
|SanMarco added 13:29 - Jan 17|
I am not a clown for saying that Stephens was slightly at fault for the first and totally at fault for the second. The first was a good goal and would probably have been scored against most CBs. A bit unfair to blame the McCarthy - maybe if he had have been a couple of feet to his left it would have hit him. I think it is true to say that our goal scoring problems cost us as much as any defensive lapses. They had more quality up front and the game turned on that. Has our goal scoring problem returned? Only one in five games is not good.
Having said that the main thing for me was that we played very well given all those out. Diallo and JWP were good and we were in it right until the end. Yes - 2-0 was probably more likely than 1-1 in the second half but on many days we would have got a point from that. We need players, particularly Ings, back and if we continue playing well a top 10 finish is more than possible.
Bertrand is definitely out for the next LEAGUE match - they change the rules to stop intentional bookings leading to suspensions for away League Cup ties at Scunthorpe.
|underweststand added 15:11 - Jan 17|
A goodly set of reviews (above) but for my take ...Ref. missed the foul on Diallo which eventually led to Maddison's goal (which was very well-taken and would have beaten better CB's than Stephens) who did well not to concede penalty.
Aside from Maddison's goal... I thought we shaded the first half , but Leicester got better second half. We had our (few) chances and when Schmeichel wasn't there to save the shots, the bar saved him. As for Leicester .. on another day Jamie Vardy would have had a hat-trick , and was his own worse enemy.
Bednarek was my MoM ..it's a tough ask, If you're last man - you get blamed for every mistake, and if you get your body in the way of a certain goal - that's why you're there .
In the end, the difference was typified by the two benches. Four of our lads hadn't had one minute of Prem. game time between them, whilst Leicester had talent to spare.
|ExiledSupporter added 15:43 - Jan 17|
Agree with most of what has been sais already, so won't repeat it . But strongly agree with TimSaint's comments about our attack.
Without Ings the chances of us scoring consistently are negligible, especially inside the box.
Both Adams and Walcott have poor first touches when under pressure, though they both have many admirable qualities, scoring regularly is not amongst them.
Yesterday Adams should have played the No 9 role, but too often he was attacking from outside the box (often having done well to win the ball in the first place) and there was nobody there to challenge two good centrebacks, either on the ground or in the air, consistently.
I think N'Lundulu has great potential and for the first time that Smallbone looked as good as his reviews say he is, but we need a competent and reasonably prolific goalscorer and though I would like this to be Adams I'm not sure that he meets the mark
|ElijahK added 16:05 - Jan 17|
Ok just to confirm to people Bertrand is suspended for us playing Arsenal next midweek on the 30th of January, as a LEAGUE suspension only counts for the league like how a cup one only counts for the cup. That means that the likes of Vodkins or maybe Valery (as he may be able to play on the left side for once) will have to play.
So for anyone saying that what Bertrand did was intelligent, no it wasn’t as he’s now suspended when if he hadn’t got booked yesterday or against Arsenal then his cards would’ve reset
|ElijahK added 16:08 - Jan 17|
I mean for anyone that doubts what game he’s suspended for, either watch Hastenhurtles interview after the game as they ask him about that, or just go onto the PL website as they both say the ax to same thing, which is that he’s suspended for 1 PREMIER LEAGUE game, that’s it.
|AmericanSaint added 16:38 - Jan 17|
Wow Nick, you obviously know nothing about goalkeeping. AM did everything right. Was out ahead of his left post to take that angle out, and made himself as big as possible to cut off the far post. That angle was the only place Maddison could have put it and he hit it with massive power. If anyone is to blame then JS was too tight on Maddison to begin with. That being said, it was just a top quality effort and goal by Maddison. Just give credit where credit it due. As for the second goal, that is all JS fault with his laziness. He should have been going route 1 to the penalty box. It shows how he has lapses of judgment and concentration and while he will never be a top-class CB.
As for the rest, we placed decently and as everyone has said, we are thin in the ranks and it was exposed this game. My only real complaint/issue was Theo. He kept giving the ball away around the 18 yard box all day long due to a heavy first/second touch. Also, when he switched to midfield he never put the through ball in the channel to the runner. I think I counted 5 times he passed backwards instead of slotting it in the box to the runner. UGH, that was annoying. Well, let's hope we get OR, Ingsy, and JV back before the Leeds/Arsenal games so we can back to winning ways. COYR.
|sandywelsh added 22:18 - Jan 17|
Lets all hope Mohammed Salisu is fit to play against Shrewsbury on Tuesday night so as to get ready for the Premier League. Hopefully he would then get two FA cup games to get ready for Arsenal in the Premier League next week. Surely a half fit Mohammed Salisu would be better than the Useless Stephens.
|ElijahK added 22:25 - Jan 17|
Sorry but why are people giving Stephens soo much shit!? It’s just pathetic of how much stick he gets for all the decent work and play he does! I mean ever since he’s been in the team after Vestergaard got injured he’s been decent and doing his job, hence why we’ve only conceded 4 goals in our last 6 games (one of which wouldn’t have counted if the attack did there job!)! I mean it’s been our attack letting us down since we beat Sheffield United, yet he some how gets loads of blame after being decent and doing his job against a team that going for the champions league!
I mean it’s just pathetic of how much shit he’s getting off of people for doing a decent job whilst others like Adams haven’t been performing of well recently and haven’t for a while!
|sandywelsh added 23:24 - Jan 17|
People are giving Stephens shit because he is not fit to wear the Shirt.
|Farlow added 10:18 - Jan 18|
It was a great effort by a very depleted squad.The best game Smallbone has had by far,shame he had to go off.When Romeu is not there JWP is not as effective.The lack of
creativity is a concern Stuart Armstrong apart.
|IanRC added 10:50 - Jan 18|
Leicester needed to cheat and rely on referee errors to beat a much under strength Saints side. If Diallo had followed Perez example when he got Bertrand sent off after minimal contact, Maddison’s admittedly well taken goal would never been scored. Imagine the furore and stroppy managers if this had been scored against Liverpool or Utd. There is a price to being a good example to the rest of the PL unfortunately.
As regards Stephen’s, yes he has been very good the last few games but he was at fault for both goals against Leicester. Also though am I the only one that thinks Walcott has been very disappointing the last few games.
|A1079 added 12:38 - Jan 18|
IanRC - no you are not the only one Re: Walcott. As the experienced player that he is, he should be taking some lead, showing more guile and determination. His final touch is poor. In fact, he reminded me of Redmond on Saturday.
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Letters from Wiltshire #34 by wessex_exile
I won’t dwell on Robbie’s latest message to the supporters – we’ve all read it, and we’ve all probably drawn our own conclusions about what it doesn’t say as much as what it does. To me, bottom line, I suspect the clock is now ticking for Steve Ball (at least), turn around this terrible form pretty damn quick, or start clearing out your locker. Regardless of personal opinions on any of the individuals concerned, I would like to think none of us actually wants to see people made redundant in the current climate. But, these are difficult times that require tough decisions. If Steve Ball is up to the job and can turn this around, I’ll be more than happy to support him. If he’s not, he has to go before irreparable harm is done…and we all know what that will look like, we’ve been there before…
Letters from Wiltshire #33 by wessex_exile
Today we face a trip to Crawley, not usually a venue that bears fruit for the U’s it has to be said. In nine visits we’ve only won once in the league, and once in the League Cup. Of course, we’ll all remember that League Cup victory, indeed many of us were probably there to see us progress through to 5th round and the dream fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford. All of our goal-scorers that night, Luke’s Norris and Gambin, and Cohen Bramall (okay, technically an O.G.), are no longer with us, so let’s hope at the very least that recent departee and subsequent returnee Frank Nouble can bag another like his late equaliser against Mansfield. Steve Ball commented during the week about how tight the league is at the moment, and he’s right that a couple of back to back victories would see us move significantly up the table away from danger – but we’ve got to win them first Steve – something we’ve failed to do since our 1-0 victory at Scunthorpe on December 8th.
Letters from Wiltshire #32 by wessex_exile
Fifty years ago yesterday, Colchester United of the 4th Division pulled off the greatest cup giant-killing ever, beating 1st Division Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road. Watched by 16,000, and the Match of the Day cameras, Dick Graham’s U’s, a rag-tag band of mostly aging journeymen, defied the odds to defeat arguably the greatest club side in Europe at the time. “The greatest cup giant-killing ever” is a bold claim, and over the years various football magazines and websites have run their own polls of which was the greatest. Whilst that day at Layer Rd always features, as the years have gone by other feats fresher in the memory have been put forward as a candidate – we probably all remember Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle, Sutton’s exploits, or even Bradford City quite recently at Stamford Bridge – but these pale into insignificance when you pause to reflect on the Don Revie side that we beat that day. Sprake, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Giles etc – all full internationals, all household names – the only one missing was Billy Bremner, and that was because he was injured. By comparison, all we had to offer was Ray Crawford – at his peak arguably on a par with some in the Leeds side, but that peak had been ten years earlier playing for Ipswich and England. Eleven heroes didn’t just try and hold out against Leeds United, they took the game to their illustrious opponents with such tenacity, grit and no small amount of flair, and before we knew it, the U’s were 3-0 in the lead. As legs tired, Leeds got back into the game with goals from Hunter and Giles, but we held firm – typified at the death by Graham Smith pulling off an impossible save to ensure the U’s achieved the greatest cup giant-killing ever!
Letters from Wiltshire #31 by wessex_exile
And so the dust settles on another transfer window closing, and despite (my) expectations that the possibility of incoming business was going to be remote, we have instead seen a veritable flurry of activity, with no less than three coming in. Big Frank Nouble, making a very welcome return on loan from Plymouth Argyle, of course needs no introduction. Neither really does feisty Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, here on loan last season, and this time signed full-time from Charlton Athletic for an undisclosed fee. Actually paying hard cash for someone did come as a surprise, presumably offset by the sale of Cohen Bramall to Lincoln for a similarly undisclosed fee. However, the fact that the Addicks have insisted on not only a sell-on clause, but a rarely used buy-back clause too, suggests (a) Wiredu’s signing fee probably wasn’t too high, and (b) Charlton are protecting those finances with these clauses. The last one, which would have been a complete surprise for me were it not for a contact leaking me the news earlier yesterday, is left-back Josh Doherty on loan from Crawley. Josh was only announced once outgoing left-back Bramall was confirmed, and presumably his loan is directly related to part-time fashion model, TV and radio celeb and former left-back Mark Wright signing for Crawley on a non-contract game-by-game basis in December. We have also released seven from the academy, Ollie Kensdale, Miquel Scarlett, Sammie McLeod, Michael Fernandes, Ollie Sims, Danny Collinge and Matt Weaire, and I’m sure we all wish them the best for the future.