The beauty of chaos is that it usually brings opportunity. On a night which finished with Ralph Hasenhüttl fielding questions about Danny Ings, who has hit an impasse in contract negotiations over extending his Southampton stay, the next generation helped tee up an FA Cup fourth-round tie with Arsenal on Saturday. Daniel N’Lundulu struck his first Southampton goal before James Ward-Prowse’s peach of free-kick deflated a spirited Shrewsbury Town.
Ings, who is recovering from Covid-19, was among nine first-team players missing for Southampton and, while his absence was expected, the striker holding off signing a lucrative new contract that would make him the club’s highest earner has clouded his long-term future.
I thought they started well. We didn’t counter-press. But then from 25 minutes we started to counterpress much better and we get the first goal from that, and it was a fantastic finish from James.
I said, try to treat it as a positive. Let’s see if we can be creative. Scoring brings such a great joy to people. January’s always a tough month for families. If you can get some joy from watching a game and seeing people celebrate in the right way I’m all for it.
First half we were too passive. We just needed to get back to basics. In the second half we were much better, we competed better, we pressed better, and actually we should have scored more than two goals, but at the same time we defended well. Today was a very good win for us against a team that can cause you real problems. To keep a clean sheet and create the opportunities that we did, I was really pleased.
Here’s Pete Lansley’s match report from the King Power Stadium:
James Maddison showed the way forward both for Leicester City’s title aspirations and for Covid-19 protocols as he marked his first-half goal by shooing his teammates away before miming the whole range of socially-distanced celebrations.
The England hopeful blasted home a fine first-half goal from an acute angle to help Leicester move second in the Premier League ahead of today’s clash between Liverpool and Manchester United.
As Mark Childs wrote in an email mid-match: “Good game today: smart players, well coached.” Both teams were impressive in different ways, Southampton particularly given the absence of their top scorer and all-round star. The margins were extremely tight, and they could very easily have come out of the game with something. In Vardy, and Maddison and Barnes around him, Leicester always looked more likely to convert a chance into a goal than Southampton, for whom Adams played well but Walcott was a bit peripheral. Anyway, here’s Maddison on his goal and the socially-distanced celebration:
It’s so instinctive. It’s something we’ve been told that we need to try and implement, to stop gatherings of people, and I just tried to turn it into a light-hearted joke. I don’t think you’ll find one person who wants football to stop so if there’s something we can do then fine. I remember a goal Arshavin scored for Arsenal, and my Dad said to me, when you’re in those situations, tight angles, near the goal, the only place you can score is high into the net.
The Premier League table:
90+6 mins: It’s all over! Leicester win and their three points take them second!
Southampton have the ball, as they have for most of stoppage time, but then they give it away to Tielemans, who draws three defenders towards the halfway line before playing in Barnes, who finishes excellently.
90+3 mins: Southampton are pressing, and Leicester are holding emphatically firm. Saints haven’t had a chance for a while, unless you count a slightly deflected bar-hitting long-range shot. They win a corner, which Evans heads clear to Armstrong, who shoots well over the bar this time.
90+1 mins: There will be five minutes of stoppage time. Leicester take Vardy off, and bring on Iheanacho. It is apparently Iheanacho’s 100th career substitute appearance.
90 mins: Albrighton prods the ball through to Perez, who takes a difficult shot rather than playing an easy pass infield to leave Vardy with a completely open goal. The flag goes up against Perez, but replays suggest he was onside and the goal would have stood.
89 mins: Vardy gets down the right, but his low cross through a crowded area is cut out by Bednarek before it reaches Barnes. Another unsuccessful pass for the statistics.
88 mins: Vardy’s performance has been nothing like as bad as these numbers suggest:
85 mins: Then Leicester nearly seal it! Vardy is found on the right of the area, jinks onto his left foot, sending Stephens skidding away into irrelevance, and opens up the goal for a left-foot finish that ... hits McCarthy’s arm and loops just wide!
85 mins: Southampton continue to commit numbers to attack, but nothing’s quite falling for them.
82 mins: Excellent if slightly fortunate work from Perez on the right, who somehow wriggles away from a couple of challenges and then finds Vardy with his cross, and the striker chests down and volleys a shot into the nearest defender.
78 mins: Chance for Southampton! Armstrong’s lay-off was a little overhit, giving Justin a chance to throw himself at the ball, but Ward-Prowse got there first and had a clean shot from the edge of the area, but distracted by Justin he blasts wide!
77 mins: Perez comes on for Maddison. Meanwhile on the other bench there are a lot of unfamiliar names. Of course Jamie Vardy knows all about Tchaptchet - didn’t he once say something about him getting banged?
75 mins: Superb goalline clearance from Bednarek! Barnes looks certain to double Leicester’s lead from a right-wing cross, but Bednarek gets back to head his shot to safety! Actually it looks like the shot was going wide, but still.
73 mins: Southampton hit the bar! Armstrong’s 22-yarder dips over Schmeichel and smacks the crossbar. It loops back to Long, who goes down over Evans’ challenge as he waits for it to come to earth. The referee’s whistle sounds, and the defence must have been braced for a penalty, but in fact the call is offside, against Long.
72 mins: Southampton bring Long on for Adams.
71 mins: Vardy has another half-chance, and then Bertrand nips in front of Maddison as he prepares to shoot from a Vardy pass. Leicester are knocking on the door.
68 mins: Two Vardy efforts in quick succession both clear the bar, first an attempted chip from wide on the left - it would have been a fabulous goal had it gone in, which it was not remotely close to doing - and then a header from Barnes’ cross.
66 mins: The wind appears to have drained from Southampton’s sails, and Leicester are looking more likely at the moment.
63 mins: Leicester break, and Maddison has the chance to play Vardy through. But his pass is poor, forces Vardy wide to the left, and the chance goes with it.
62 mins: If N’Lundulu finishes this game it will more than double his season’s total number of league minutes. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s decision to bring him on instead of Shane Long says something about Long’s current position in the Saints striking pecking order.
60 mins: Smallbone goes down again, this time after colliding with Maddison and this time he will go off. N’Lundulu comes on to replace him.
58 mins: Bertrand is booked for falling over, accidentally handballing on his way, knocking the ball out for a throw-in, and then leaping to his feet to stop the throw-in being quickly taken. That’s his fifth booking of the season and he will now miss Southampton’s next game.
55 mins: Smallbone tries to stop Castagne passing the ball, but as the players’ legs touch his knee twists awkwardly, and he goes down looking in considerably discomfort. And he didn’t even stop Castagne passing the ball.
53 mins: The night’s first substitution sees Soyuncu replace Fofana for Leicester.
50 mins: Southampton continue to press and probe. A long diagonal pass dips onto the foot of Bertrand, whose volleyed cross is shanked straight to Schmeichel rather than to the unmarked Adams.
46 mins: Chance for Southampton! Smallbone’s curling shot is pushed out by Schmeichel straight to Walcott, who had a fraction of a second to prepare for the ball’s arrival, with a gaping goal ahead of him, and didn’t.
46 mins: Peeeeeeep! Maddison gets the game restarted.
“I don’t know which was more impressive about Maddison’s goal,” writes Peter Oh, “the way he overcame a tight angle with a thumpingly precise shot, or the restraint he showed to celebrate in the (relatively) physically distanced style.”
The finish was phenomenal, from a very acute angle. Overall it’s been a very enjoyable game between two pretty well matched teams, but where Southampton have had a few chances without producing a particularly good shot, Leicester have had the Barnes effort and the goal and thus, by the waferthinnest of margins, probably deserve their slender lead.
45+3 mins: And that is half of the time. Key stats: Leicester wins after taking the lead this season: 10 out of 10. Southampton wins after falling behind this season: one out of six.
45+2 mins: Barnes runs onto Albrighton’s pass and to the byline on the left, before pulling the ball back just behind Vardy.
45+1 mins: And we roll gently into stoppage time, of which there’ll be a couple of minutes.
45 mins: Now Albrighton is himself booked, slightly harshly, for fouling Bertrand.
44 mins: Diallo, who was booked in the build-up to the Leicester goal (not given), gets booked for bringing down Albrighton.
41 mins: Save! Another excellent first-time pass from Ward-Prowse, this time releasing Bertrand. He runs into the area, looks up, slows down, takes his time, and then lashes a shot a bit too close to the keeper, which Schmeichel deflects over the bar.
39 mins: Maddison’s celebration is very Covid-friendly, shooing away his teammates and miming some long-distance hand-shaking.
That’s a fabulous finish! Bednarek does a poor job of tracking Maddison’s run, but the Leicester player runs through to the right of goal before smashing a shot high past McCarthy and into the roof of the net!
37 mins: Albrighton tries another low pass infield to Vardy, who this time takes the shot and ... completely misses his kick.
34 mins: Southampton play keep-ball for a while.
30 mins: Ward-Prowse wins the ball in midfield and plays an instant pass over the Leicester defence to Adams, but Schmeichel comes out to clear the danger. A good pass, run and clearance there, excellent from all three players.
28 mins: Adams and Walcott combine nicely, and not for the first time, but Evans stretches to stop the latter running clear into the area.
27 mins: Meanwhile, in former Southampton manager news:
23 mins: Save! Adams shoots from an acute angle on the right, and Schmeichel pushes it round the post. Meanwhile Fofana appears to have suffered a broken heart, and then had a haircut to prove it:
19 mins: Save! Albrighton passes across the area to Vardy, who lets the ball run between his legs for Barnes to run onto, and his first-time drive is pushed away by McCarthy!
17 mins: Southampton win the ball back midway through their half and Adams is played through on the right. Had the ball allowed him to run through the middle Southampton would have been in real trouble, but as it is he has to cut infield and thus Evans has time to get back and hassle him, and then Schmeichel blocks his crossing channel, and the chance is gone.
15 mins: Walcott gets the ball, sprints into the Leicester half, and pretty cynically runs into Fofana when he had no hope or for that matter intention of keeping the ball. The referee laps this up, gives him a free kick, and books Fofana.
13 mins: A good start for Southampton, who are bravely pushing up, compressing space, generally making life difficult for Leicester, and hoping that McCarthy can mop up anything played in behind, which thus far he has.
10 mins: The corner was headed clear by Justin, and now Fofana has won a free-kick for Leicester, which Maddison sends into the area only for McCarthy to race from his line to executive a fine and really quite eye-catching diving punch.
7 mins: Full marks for tempo so far, if not for attacking-third precision and incision. Walcott has just won a corner for Southampton.
3 mins: Walker-Peters goes on a nice run down the right but undoes his good work by playing a blind pass infield to nobody.
2 mins: Leicester have already tried two early long passes behind the Southampton defence for Vardy to run onto, both of which have been cut off by McCarthy.
1 min: Peeeeeeep! The away team, all in white but for a red sash across their shirt, and also a couple of other minor red bits elsewhere that I should mention for the sake of accuracy, get the game going.
The players walk out, and the football is so close you can almost smell it.
Pre-match reading: here’s a report on Fulham 0-1 Chelsea:
Sky think it’s Schmeichel’s 401st game for Leicester, but the Foxes count the Community Shield as a friendly so 400 is the right number.
I’m not sure how any fans have snuck into the King Power Stadium to put up a sign to mark Kasper Schmeichel’s 400th appearance for Leicester, and if they haven’t who is responsible for it, but the main thing is that it will be his 400th appearance for Leicester.
Leicester make two changes to the team that beat Stoke last week, with Vardy and Maddison coming back and Perez and Praet stepping down.
The team sheets are in, and tonight’s selections look like this:
That Leicester are in the top four at the moment can’t be considered an enormous surprise, given their long-term improvement under Brendan Rodgers. That Southampton will end the day there instead if they win this game by more than one goal verges on the astonishing. They’ll be hampered by the absence (probably) of Danny Ings, who scored the winner here last season, after a positive Covid test, while Jamie Vardy and James Maddison will be back for Leicester after missing the FA Cup win over Stoke. Anyway, hello!
After beating Liverpool in their most recent league match, Southampton will travel with confidence to the King Power Stadium, where they gained sweet revenge last season for their infamous 9-0 defeat earlier in the campaign. Ralph Hassenhüttl’s side have lost only once on their travels this season and could climb above Leicester with a win. But with Danny Ings absent that seems an unlikely outcome even if Leicester have found the going curiously tough at home, winning only three of eight matches. Paul Doyle
Team are benefiting from manager’s willingness to adapt, youth revamp and decision to redeploy his goalkeeping coach
It was an accidental masterpiece of theatre that made for one of the most absorbing jousts this season. Even in the seconds before Danny Ings had latched on to James Ward-Prowse’s cunning free-kick, the box-office sideshow to Southampton’s victory over Liverpool was well under way. Jürgen Klopp raged as Ralph Hasenhüttl flip-flopped from apoplectic to equable, willing his players on with the gusto of a marathon spectator, before the Southampton manager crashed to all fours wiping away tears of joy.
Tue, 19 Jan 2021 22:39:18 +0000: FA Cup Highlights: Southampton 2-0 Shrewsbury - BBC Sport Watch highlights of Southampton's 2-0 win over League One Shrewsbury in the FA Cup third round, which sets up a fourth-round tie for Saints against Arsenal.
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has been a busy man in the transfer market this summer as he looks to reinforce his squad for the start of next season after a great run which saw them promoted to the English top flight via the play offs. Adkins is now desperate to bring in new names to the club so that he can secure their position in the top flight for another season at least.
The first signing of the summer sees promising young full back Nathaniel Clyne arrive at St Mary`s from Crystal Palace after the promise of the clubs plans to attempt to quality for Europe this season were very enticing for the player. Southampton though will need to pay a large compensation fee to his current club if the deal goes through as due to the players age his former club feel they are due some type of payment from the saints after he signed a new four year deal last week.
Another player who has just be signed by the club is talented striker Jay Rodriguez after he recently arrived from Burnley for a fee which is believed to be around the six and a half million pounds mark. Adkins has long been an admirer of the player and is extremely happy with the signing which he sees as just perfect to bolster his attacking line for next season.
A shocking bit of news right now for Southampton is the fact that their attempts to bring defender Alexander Buttner to St Mary`s may be in tatters after his current club Vitesse Arnham have halted the move after another club have come into the frame for the players signature. Southampton may now find themselves in a bidding war for the player who they see as a perfect addition to their squad so as of now all dealings over the player have hit a premature halt.