|Leicester City 1 v 2 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 11th January 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Saints At Leicester City The Verdict
Sunday, 12th Jan 2020 10:05
This was a win not about revenge, but about regaining our pride and showing the World that the game back in October was a freak result and we did that with some style.
A little under 3 months ago Saints suffered their worst ever defeat at home to Leicester City, it was a game where there was little to be taken out of it aside from the fact that surely the next game had to be be better.
That wasn't a given though and Ralph Hasenhuttl had to work hard to strip things down to the bone and rebuild his sides confidence, this game was the valediction of that and indeed the work he had done over the past months.
A year ago Saints arrived at the King Power and won 2-1, they did so however with their backs to the wall partly due to the sending off of Yan Valery and partly because we were a struggling side.
This year it was different, we looked a good side, we had the bulk of the chances and we deserved the points and indeed we should have won by more,
In the preview I spoke of the first job should be to restore our pride and we did that in spades, from the very start we looked a side with confidence, with resolution and a determination to get a job done, we didn't need to restore our pride, we have already done that several weeks ago, what we actually needed to do was prove it to the World.
From the very start we set to our task and should have opened the scoring, but it was the home side who caught us in a rare lack of concentration taking a quick free kick that put Vardy through to cross for Praet to fire home at the far post.
We could easily have folded here and it was not lost on some that this was virtually the same minute that the chaos started back at St Mary's, bu this time we kept our focus and equalised 5 minutes later albeit with a slice of luck Stuart Armstrong's shot taking a wicked deflection.
From then on Saints controlled the game although it was VAR who would perhaps have the biggest say, it has many critics, but that should not deflect that overall it means that 99% of the time it makes sure that the right decision is reached, both sides had key moments with VAR and goals chalked out, but no one can argue that they lost because of a bad decision missed by the ref, VAR needs fine tuning but ultimately it evens up the playing field.
This was very much another team performance by Saints, perhaps Danny Ings was the ultimate man of the match, not only for his goal but his all round play, but he was only a 1/10th of a point ahead of every other player who played a part.
His winning goal on 81 minutes was largely due to Che Adams who had only been on the pitch 3 minutes, Adams got the ball shrugged off a challenge, played a neat 1-2 and then slid the ball right into Ing's path and he did the rest to give Saints all three points.
We now have something to build on, we ended the day 8 points clear of relegation although that gap will lessen slightly after the Bournemouth V Watford fixture.
As I have always maintained even in the dark days, we are a good side with a poor defence, however in recent weeks the manager has inspired that defence to play out of it's skin, we still need a central defender, but the reality is that although both Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek have done really well and can play a big part in the future of the club, there is no back up or competition for them and if one should get injured or suspended then we could be in trouble.
But they both have played their part and deserve the plaudits and have more than most done their bit and I applaud them both for it especially Jack Stephens who looks a far better player than he has ever shown in the past and that is the type of character and spirit that we need.
It is interesting to note that if we had just held on at Man City, Newcastle and Arsenal, three away games where we handed them soft goals in the final couple of minutes then this morning we would have 32 points and would be level with Sheffield United in 6th.
That shows two things, firstly we are a better side than many, some our own fans claimed and secondly we can still challenge for a top 10 place and given where we have come from earlier in the season that is a surprising boost for the rest of the season.
But we should temper that with caution, we first have to secure Premier League safety and then we can plan for the future.
But at Leicester we took a big step forward in all directions, I said a couple of games ago that our target to stay up was a point a game, this win means that we perhaps need only three more to put us on the cusp of safety, we have put a gap between us and the rest, we now need to make inroads on the teams above us.
The players believe, it now needs some of those who lost their faith to find it again and fill St Mary's and help us move forwards not just this season but next and beyond.
Ralph Hasenhuttl has proved that throwing money at a football team is not always the answer, it is an easy option, but if you take the hard road and knuckle down and work hard you can achieve just as much.
Photo: Action Images
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