Southampton 0-9 Leicester
Goals: Ben Chilwell (£5.4m), Youri Tielemans (£6.4m), Ayoze Pérez x3 (£6.0m), Jamie Vardy x3 (£9.1m), James Maddison (£7.2m)
Assists: Harvey Barnes x2 (£5.9m), Tielemans, Chilwell, Vardy
Red cards: Ryan Bertrand (£4.8m)
Right then, where do we start with this one? 20 points for Jamie Vardy (£9.1m), 19 for Ben Chilwell (£5.4m) and -6 for Ryan Bertrand (£4.8m). What a night.
Leicester City’s 9-0 win over Southampton on Friday night equalled the biggest-ever win in the Premier League and set a new record for largest margin of victory for an away team in 131 years of English top-flight history.
Is that all you need to know about this one? Probably. Is that all we’re going to tell you about? Absolutely not.
Already, a debate seems to be forming about whether this anomaly of a result was caused by Leicester’s attacking guile or Southampton’s defensive ineptitude.
In truth, there was an element of both, but the opinion of this article’s author is that the most influential factor in the story of this game was indeed the shocking performance of the hosts.
They conceded 15 shots on target and nine of them (60%) ended up as goals.
Yes, Leicester look good and have plenty of attacking potential – but they won’t be scoring nine goals in a Premier League game again any time soon.
That’s because Southampton put on one of the worst defensive displays I have ever seen at this level of football.
When writing these Scout Notes articles, I try my best not to exaggerate but I feel I would be remiss in my duties if I did not report just how dreadful Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men were on Friday night.
I don’t feel it’s too much of a reach to say, during my time reporting on Plymouth Argyle, that I have seen most League Two teams defend better than that. I’ve witnessed a better standard of defending in the National League and even in the Ceredigion Costcutters Division Two. For anyone unacquainted with the Welsh lower divisions, that’s a glorified pub team league.
Against Leicester, Southampton set up in the usual 3-5-2 system with Maya Yoshida (£4.4m), Jannik Vestergaard (£5.2m) and Jan Bednarek (£4.5m) in the middle, Bertrand and Jan Valery (£4.8m) the wing-backs.
But, to be honest, it doesn’t really matter what formation, system or tactics Hasenhüttl deployed because not one of his players turned up.
At no point at St. Mary’s Stadium did we witness Southampton attempting to mark their opposition, to apply any pressure on them, hold any defensive shape or display any spirit.
I would go as far as to say that the Saints weren’t even stretched out of position by Leicester. They were nothing but spectators as the visitors ran circles around them.
I’d like to say most Premier League teams should look as spectacular as the Foxes did when playing football without any opposition. That’s how bad Southampton were – it was as if they weren’t even on the pitch.
This was most obvious down their right-hand side of defence where Valery was supposed to be stationed, although he spent much of the first half in a completely different postcode to both Chilwell and Harvey Barnes (£5.9m).
I don’t want to knock their credentials as attacking players, both are talented individuals, but anyone given the freedom of Southampton in which to operate is going to cause serious damage.
Before left-back Bertrand had even received his marching orders, Southampton
“It would be easy to say that because of the red card after 10 minutes but… I think it’s not the moment to discuss every goal and every scene and the result. What I say is that I take 100% responsibility for this result today. It was a no performance from my team. This cannot happen in this way.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
The left-back pushed into the empty space and his shot across the box turned into a cross which Barnes collected and fired at Angus Gunn (£4.5m).
The Southampton goalkeeper failed to hold onto the effort though, allowing Chilwell to continue his run, unmarked and unopposed, into the six-yard box where he slotted in.
It was in the build-up to this goal that Bertrand was pulled up by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) for a high tackle on Ayoze Pérez (£6.0m) and promptly sent off.
Naturally, this exposed Southampton on their left, but given that huge problems were already present down the right, it should be no surprise that Chilwell and Barnes continued to run riot.
Seven minutes later, former West Bromwich Albion loanee Barnes was, left Valery for dead opening up space to square a pass to Wilfried Ndidi (£5.0m).
This was deflected into the path of the onrushing Youri Tielemans (£6.4m) by the recovering Valery, who had time to collect himself and dispatch Leicester’s second.
Again, no pressing, no marking. Southampton’s three centre-backs, admittedly left horrendously exposed, stood there like statues to give Tielemans all the time in the world to hit the back of the net.
Two minutes later, Pérez burst through idle Southampton midfielders, played a one-two with Tielemans on the edge of the box and, unchallenged, fired his effort in for 3-0.
At this point, Hasenhüttl finally responded by switching to a back-four. Valery was swapped to the left and Bednarek pulled out of the centre-back three to try and stop the rot on the Saints’ right. It didn’t work. The four Southampton defenders lined up so tightly that all of them were inside the penalty box with nobody patrolling either flank.
In the 39th minute, disaster struck once more on the right. Chilwell would have been able to solve a crossword puzzle in the time it took Bednarek to come over and watch him deliver another cross.
Given the left-back’s undeniable crossing ability, especially when completely unopposed, it should be no surprise that his ball found its intended target: an unmarked Pérez dashing into the back-post to smash in a fourth.
Vardy then made it 5-0 on the stroke of half-time. Can you guess where this pass came from? Yes, that’s right, Leicester’s left.
Chilwell was again in yards of space, his deft ball into the box helped on its way towards Vardy by a poor defensive header from James Ward-Prowse (£5.8m).
Hasenhüttl tried to change things around at half-time but could not come up with anything capable of improving on the opening period.
At this point, this was already Southampton’s worst half-time deficit in Premier League history.
Danny Ings (£5.9m) and Vestergaard were replaced at the break by Kevin Danso (£4.4m) and Jack Stephens (£4.3m) who took over at left and right-back respectively. Both of those players are centre-backs.
Despite his woeful first-half display, Valery was left on the pitch on the right of a four-man midfield while Nathan Redmond (£6.3m) ploughed a lone furrow up-front.
It should be no surprise then that Leicester continued to heap misery on their hosts in the second half.
Pérez scored the sixth goal just short of the hour. Barnes played a ball into the box to the former Newcastle player who just found it far too easy to find the net for the second time on the night.
Not only was nobody marking Pérez at this point, but he also had time to ghost between Danso and Yoshida, chest it down, set himself and shoot all on the edge of the six-yard box.
Chilwell was at the ready to add his third attacking return of the night just moments later.
As you can imagine, he had as much time as he wanted to cross for an unmarked Vardy, who headed home as if he was on the training pitch. No scratch that, as if he and Chilwell were two children playing football in the park, waiting for other players to turn up – that’s how easy it was.
James Maddison (£7.2m) owners were finally invited in from the cold when Vardy won a free kick on the edge of the box in the 85th minute.
It was inevitable that this would end up in the back of the net given Maddison’s skill from dead-ball situations and the fact that Southampton had effectively given up 10 minutes into this encounter.
Finally, the record books were adjusted by Vardy in stoppage time as he earned a penalty from a Stephens’ foul and dispatched it to complete his hat-trick.
So the question many of us will be asking after such a ridiculous match of football, is what can Fantasy managers learn?
In my opinion, there’s not a huge deal we can take from this. We knew Leicester had attacking potential coming into this one, but it is pretty clear that against most other opposition they will not get as much joy as this.
It must be said that this was not the first time that the flanks of defence have caused issues for Hasenhüttl this season.
Think back to Southampton’s 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth, also played under the Friday night lights.
The Saints manager made the strange decision of deploying left-footed centre-back Danso on the right, allowing both Josh King (£6.3m) and Dominic Solanke (£5.4m) to reign supreme.
In fact, as Neale pointed out in Big Numbers this week, Southampton had conceded 46 chances down this side of the pitch this season, more than any other side.
That is excellent news for options such as Raheem Sterling (£12.1m) and Benjamin Mendy (£5.9m) who will be likely line-up on the left of Manchester City’s attack at the Etihad Stadium in Gameweek 11.
It also bodes well for Everton, Watford and Norwich, the next three sides to come to St. Mary’s. Since Hasenhüttl arrived on the south coast, only Fulham have failed to score when visiting Southampton.
That said, given the lack of progress made under Hasenhüttl, his position at the club will certainly be under heavy scrutiny in the coming weeks.
“I think it’s not the moment where we discuss the players or how they acted today. I’ve never had an such an experience in my entire managing career. I’ve always thought that something (like this) could happen but it has.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
As for Leicester, will they face a much sterner test in Gameweek 11 when they travel to face Crystal Palace?
The Eagles have boasted one of the best home defensive records of the season so far. Going into Gameweek 9, they have conceded just once in front of their own fans in four matches.
After that round of action, this figure had risen to three in five, as Manchester City were restricted to just a two-goal winning margin.
I might even go as far as to suggest that this 9-0 win said more about Leicester’s defensive assets than it did their attacking ones.
There was a period of about 10 minutes in the second half where Redmond and substitute Stuart Armstrong (£5.2m) started to venture forth and ask questions of the Foxes’ defence.
With the score at 7-0 at this point, Brendan Rodgers’ side would have been excused for relaxing at the back and taking the rest of the day off.
However, both Jonny Evans (£5.0m) and Çaglar Söyüncü (£4.7m) maintained their professionalism and threw their bodies in the way of Southampton shots as if they were fighting to hold on to 0-0 draw.
That mentality helped earned Leicester’s away first clean of the season, which had been a long-time coming and bodes well for favourable fixtures against Palace (away), Brighton (away) and Everton (home).
“Of course, you can lose your concentration in games like that, and we gave them virtually no chances and defended very, very strongly as well. It’s a great testament to the work of the players and how they have been working, so it’s an unbelievable scoreline.” – Brendan Rodgers
Southampton XI (3-5-2): Gunn; Vestergaard (Danso 46′), Yoshida, Bednarek; Bertrand, Højbjerg, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Valery (Armstrong 70′); Redmond, Ings (J Stephens 46′).
Leicester City XI (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Chilwell, Söyüncü, Evans, R Pereira; Ndidi; H Barnes (Albrighton 72′), Maddison, Tielemans, Pérez (D Gray 74′); Vardy.
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