Leicester City recorded the biggest away win in the history of the Premier League as they inflicted embarrassment upon Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side, and move them into the relegation zone on goal difference.
Ryan Bertrand’s sending off after ten minutes for a foul in the build up to Ben Chillwell’s opener set the tone, as Hasenhuttl struggled to adapt tactically to this setback. Youri Tielemans, Ayoze Perez (2) and Jamie Vardy netted before half time as they heading into the break five goals up, before Perez and Vardy completed their hat tricks in the second half. James Maddison wrapped up the win with a sublime free kick, and lifted the Foxes up to second.
So what has that resounding win taught us?
Leicester came out on top on the expected goals (xG) in dominant fashion, racking up 4.38 to Southampton’s 0.46. Overperforming by 4.62, it still keeps in line with Leicester’s performances this season, where they have consistently over-performed, and there does need to be a question of how long the side can stay this clinical for. Over the opening ten games this season, they have overperformed their xG by 11.69, scoring 25 to the 13.31 expected. With them overperforming defensively, only conceding eight to the 11.74 expected, it is an area worth keeping an eye on ahead of their trip to Selhurst Park next Sunday.
Now with nine goals to this name following his hat trick on the south coast, Vardy in red hot form once again and showing no signs of slowing down. A stand out for the striker is how clinical he has been in front of goal, and this was on show once again last night, as his goals this season have come at a combined xG of 4.28, and are shown below.
The game suited the Englishman perfectly, and his tenacity and constant movement up front gave the Southampton backline, in particular Maya Yoshida, a torrid time. Hasenhuttl initially looked to play a high line, but following the sending off of Bertrand, he dropped the Saints into a deeper block. Although the warning signs were already there from Leicester’s opener, by sitting deeper, it freed up the space out wide and in front of the back line for Leicester’s creative players to exploit.
With so many individual stand out performances, it is hard to choose the stand out players, however the link play from Harvey Barnes and Chilwell down the left was outstanding, and resulted in both five and four chances created respectively. Coming up against a Crystal Palace side who will sit deep to alleviate the worries of Vardy’s pace in behind, the full back/wingers combinations will be key to creating chances next Sunday, and will need to be in the same scintillating form against the Eagles.
From a tactical stand point, as well as the underlying statistics, despite the nine goals they racked up against Southampton, I’d be approaching the goal markets with caution. Palace’s defence are much more suited and well drilled in the low block compared to Southampton, and I expect Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew to provide a much more effective counter attacking option. As Manchester City and West Ham did against Palace, they could Leicester could look to target Patrick van Aanholt at left back, so Pereira and Perez could provide the key in London next weekend.
What Next for Southampton?:
The red card didn’t help the Saints, but it was still an unacceptable performance, and there are a number of areas that need to be drastically addressed by Hasenhuttl in preparation for the trip to the Etihad on Tuesday in the Carabao Cup, as well as a trip on Saturday to the same ground.
Constantly overrun out wide, whether it was Chilwell and Barnes or Ricardo Pereira and Perez, Leicester were able to create 2v1s in the wide areas, with wide midfielders very rarely offering defensive cover. If they are to head to the Etihad and look for damage limitation, Hasenhuttl will need to adapt his normal narrow shape to counter act a City side who set up in a similar fashion, and look to utilise the full backs of Kyle Walker and Bernard Mendy in the same vain. The three central midfielders were easily overrun, whilst Danny Ings was understandably isolated up top before being taken off at half time, and this tactical switch to leave Redmond centrally added a little drive, but lacked any ability to hold up the ball.
It is a daunting task for Southampton next week, and Hasenhuttl will be desperate for a response, particularly defensively, from his side. If he is to adapt the shape of the team as a result, the goal markets will be worth keeping an eye on, especially as the trip to Manchester City will become a damage limitation exercise. Redmond’s pace on the break will be key as they’ll look to exploit the channels like Wolves did in victory before the International break, but seeing them bounce back in Manchester will be a huge ask.