Leicester City went down to Southampton and set a new away win record in not just the Premier League, but the history of the English top division. That’s so insanely special that everyone should just take whatever they damn well want to from it, but here are my points anyway:
1. Left side, strong side
The game ended 9-0 (not sure if you’d heard), so obviously the Foxes were pretty vastly superior over the whole pitch. If I had to single out one area that broke the game open, it was our attacks down the left.
In a back 3 system, the Saints had Yan Valery out there essentially alone, with a bit of help coming over from midfield and defence. At no point did he look like he could handle Harvey Barnes or Ben Chilwell, let alone when they combined perfectly together, as they often did.
This was the peak we’ve known was possible from them for years. Particularly Chilwell, who’s been singled out as the young player to watch for as long as we’ve been back in the Premier League. Both have shown exceptional flashes at times, but this was the full performance.
Fun fact. Ben Chilwell, who’s a LB, got 3 goal contributions for Leicester last night (1 goal, 2 assists), which is actually 3 more goal contributions than what Jesse Lingard, who’s a forward, has got in the whole of 2019. Enjoy the rest of your day.— Ryan. (@Vintage_Utd) October 26, 2019
It wasn’t just the end product finally coming that was so fun to see. The interplay between the two (and with the rest of the team at other times) was a real sign that this team is finally making the last steps of coming together and playing at their best. When that’s highlighted by two academy graduates, well that’s just gravy.
2. Perez might just have what it takes
The story of Ayoze Perez’s season was just starting to look a little bit stale. He clearly had the talent we paid for; his first touch is great, he made smart runs and he looked on the same page as his teammates with his short passing and build up play. He just couldn’t get the ball over the line.
That story looks a little different now. The former Newcastle man scored early and then just kept on going until he had his first hat trick in a Leicester shirt (and his 2nd in a row against Southampton).
2 - Ayoze Pérez has become the first player to score a hat-trick in back-to-back Premier League appearances against a single opponent since Luis Suárez against Norwich City in September 2012. Thorn. pic.twitter.com/gH6UQmEhWb— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 25, 2019
The breakthrough, predicted impressively in the comments on the key matchups preview, was helped by poor defending, but all three of his goals were well deserved and showed off exactly what we’re hoping for from him.
The first was a great run, combined with neat interplay with Ricardo and Tielemans. Chilwell’s cross did the hard work for the 2nd, but his finish from a tight angle was clinical. The third demonstrated his excellent touch and another nice finish. If he keeps up anything like that, we won’t be left relying on just Vardy.
Although of course, Vardy is forever and we definitely can always rely on him.
3. Keep your foot on the gas
Our next two league opponents, Arsenal and Crystal Palace, played each other on Sunday. The Gunners took a two goal lead inside 10 minutes, and it looked like they could’ve been in a for big win. Then they maybe relaxed a little and let their opponents back in the game. It ended 2-2.
If Leicester’s game against Palace starts in a similar way, I’d be pretty confident that it wouldn’t go the same way. Brendan Rodgers was urging his players on and angrily criticising every little mistake on Friday, when his team were 7-0 up. There’s simply no let up in this team, and that’s how things like this happen:
(I don’t care if that really flowed, I just wanted to make sure I included this tweet).
His insistence that the team stay professional and play their best football, even when comfortably ahead, has already given us 4, 5 and 9-0 wins so far. If they can carry that mentality into the next game, we’ll be through to another league cup quarter final.
If they can play with that intensity for 90 minutes for the rest of the league season, it’s time to start clearing your midweeks for Champions League football.