Saints v Leicester
St.Mary's, Saturday 8th November 2014
I was nervous today because the weather was a massive leveller, and so it proved to be as our superior individual quality and energy was dispersed by a hideously slippery football, slick pitch and with a little bit of help from Nigel Pearson's trademark defensive organisation. Wes Morgan looked quite good during the game which tells you exactly how good Pearson's organisational skills in this regard are.
Saying that, Saints never really looked like losing this game, with the only doubt being whether we actually have the quality to score on a day when both Tadić and Mané were, occasional incidents notwithstanding, not playing with their usual skill and penetration.
Forster: The only thing we had to worry about with big Fozzie was that he might go to sleep in the rain and not wake up in time for the final whistle. Came out and looked massive for their only real chance (still can't really believe Wood missed it?) But other than that dealt with the very little Leicester created when required to and did it extremely competently. Good job Lurch :) .
Clyne: Good game and full of running, providing an out ball and very high energy running going forward, just a shame for him today that Tadić was in front of him as he had, by his excellent standards, a bloody awful game. Still England's number one right back, shame Hodgson hasn't figured that out yet, I guess he will when the papers tell him, if the papers want to retain even the modest shred of credibility they still have that they may know what they're talking about then they should shout about this to Roy ASAP and consistently until he bloody well takes some notice.
Fonte: Miss sighted for one pass that that couldn't have made anyone other than Capt Windy-Britches worry, I thought he was excellent. He did get outpaced and outmuscled by Wood for Leicester's only really good opportunity,, but other than that had a really good game.
Alderweireld: A yellow card that was very timely and couldn't be helped, otherwise he was totally imperious, exactly the kind of defender you want, he stays in the background putting on a mysterious air except when required, and then, as if by magic, appears and provides the significant touch/tackle/header/whatever is required. If Bertrand wasn't so good he would have been the defender of the match today.
Bertrand: Totally fecking brilliant with one minor slip-up. There is nothing more that requires saying, he completely mastered the left-hand wing and if Mané had been on the game they would have Monstered Leicester on their own. Sign him up… I'm not shitting you, sign him up NOW.
Wanyama: He had a really good game, Spiderman was okay, not actually himself (possibly waiting for his birthday presents) but Victor, 'Big Victor' as he definitely was today, he was just all over the place and absolutely excellent. Put the wind up me with a couple of his passes in the first half that were just close enough to give the Leicester players the thought they might get it (they never did) but by and large imperious and totally unchallenged. Spectacularly good game from him in a really challenging game that wasn't particularly great to watch from the team as a whole.
Davis: you know I'm a big fan of 'Interesting' but today he looked like he was injured right from the start, I mean he just never really looked like his usual high-energy self. Not sure if he was carrying something but it was good that he came off, Cork provided more energy and is never lacking in drive and determination and that's just what we needed in an outmanned midfield. Not such a great game from Steve but I have a feeling that was for a reason and he will benefit from a good rest during the international break, providing the injury he picked up today isn't too serious.
Mane: Honestly, I'm not sure he should have been playing, he just wasn't his usual self or on it right from the very start. Showed a couple of bits and played with some heart, but just didn't look like he knew what his teammates were trying to do, there was a lovely layoff from Graziano in the first half that he just had no idea was coming. We improved when he went off, and that's not just because his replacement scored the goals. Poor game but I'm sure he'll be better when back from Senegal duty.
Tadić: He tried the same thing three times in the first half (pass with the outside of the left foot around a defender and across the goal) and that obviously buggered up his judgement for the rest of the game. He got better as the game went on but he just really didn't look like himself, curse of the interview maybe?. Not just by his standards, by anybody's, I hope he's not believing the hype because that's bloody annoying when that happens. I'm sure he'll be back to his best providing Serbia don't have another mega-stressful international in the meantime.
Schneiderlin: Anyway, I was largely unimpressed with him today. This was, by his own impressive standards, quite an indifferent performance and against energetic but reasonably inadequate opposition. He never looked troubled, but he just didn't do anything with his undoubted superiority. When you're that much better than the people you're playing you should stand out that much more. If he can monster Yaya Toure then what should he have done against Leicester (Cambiasso apart) estimate
Pellè: Knackered, all I can say is the magnificence of his thighs was not matched by the magnificence of his game although he did have some moments today and his hold-up play was still very good. Actually, the reason he looked quite as off the pace as he did was because the Mané & Tadić were both playing far too far wide and not supporting him. One point he laid a lovely through ball back for the running Mané… Only problem was Mané wasn't running and it looked like he just left it in the middle of the pitch. Prospered after Shane came on and despite the fact he is run into the ground still gave his everything for the team which you have to respect, I hope he won't play for Italy.
Long: Can't knock a two-goal impact, actually he was very good, intelligent and supported Pellè well right from the moment he came on. Should have started really, don't disagree with Ronald often but ShLong deserved the start and should have had the opportunity to make an impact from the beginning, irrespective of that, he made a brilliant impact from the end :)
Cork: Played his part coming on for an ineffective and potentially already injured Davis, good game from him without being spectacular or having quite the impact he has had in other games this season. Nevertheless, gave us much-needed energy when he came on and some nice passing from him later in the game was good to see.
Reed: Only had a couple of minutes so can't comment particularly other than to say he looked very up for it and seems to clearly relish playing in the advanced midfield role. Very much like Papa Scholes, it seems even though the ginger haired cliche is a little too convenient for me, maybe it's accurate? When we've made the league safe I will enjoy watching him get his first long stretch out in the first team :)
Not actually a very good game of football for most of it, I think this is largely because of Nigel's ability to set up and organise a team. Someone said to me today that Leicester never say die and always keep trying, I replied that actually the way they had set up they had already said 'die', it was a very negative approach from them right from the start hoping they could make something on the break with Vardy and get high balls in to Ulloa (which we basically didn't allow them to do anyway).
A comfortable win even though it wasn't really a comfortable game to watch, Leicester certainly didn't deserve a point but up till half-time I'm not sure we deserved one either.
In the end, a deserved three points that, looking back on it, will probably seem quite easy, but they weren't. Just like at the same time last year we will see this more and more now I think, the opposition will set up to frustrate us and to negate our strengths in midfield and double team our key players like Tadić.
Still, we got through and we won comfortably in the end, some might say that doing that whilst not playing particularly brilliantly and having some of our more influential players negated was a sign of great things to come… I think I'm one of that 'some'.
17 Alderweireld - Booked
08 Davis (Cork 40')
04 Schneiderlin - Booked (Reed 92')
10 Mané (Long 68')
02 de Laet (Moore 54' - Booked)
27 Wasilewski - Booked
10 King (Powell 76')
23 Ulloa (Wood 71')
A slightly damp Ronald Koeman post match interview
Shane Long’s post match interview
- Long 75′, 80′
- Southampton 65%
- Leicester 35%
- Southampton 18
- Leicester 5
- Southampton 6
- Leicester 0
- Southampton 13
- Leicester 4
- Southampton 10
- Leicester 12
Referee : Michael Oliver
Attendance : 31,297
Shane Long - 75’, 80’