Leicester City lost to bottom-of-the-table Southampton by a score of 1-0 at the St. Mary’s in Saturday’s late match. Carlos Alcaraz scored the only goal of the match after Danny Ward saved a James Ware-Prowse penalty to keep City level. City had chances in the second half but couldn’t find the target, with Harry Souttar hitting the post at the death.
This is one of the worst performances I’ve seen since Tuesday.— Jason Bourne (@JasonBourne1986) March 4, 2023
Manager Brendan Rodgers made a host of changes to the side that lost to Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday in the FA Cup. One change he couldn’t make was restoring Victor Kristiansen to the starting lineup as the Danish fullback picked up in injury in training and will miss up to a month. Today's lineup: Danny Ward, Ricardo Pereira, Harry Souttar, Wout Faes, Timothy Castagne, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Nampalys Mendy, Tete, James Maddison (C), Harvey Barnes, and Kelechi Iheanacho.
Both goalkeepers were spectators for the opening quarter of the match. The Foxes dominated possession and pinged the ball around the hosts’ area without creating a great deal. The Saints’ defence was compact and well organised, so much so that, when balls did make it through to City players, they were caught by surprise and unable to get the final touch. Ricardo, Barnes, and Iheanacho all failed to find the target when the seas parted and they got a sight of goal.
Southampton had a golden opportunity to take the lead on the half-hour when Theo Walcott tore down the right and attempted to cut the ball back. Castagne dove into bock and the ball hit his outstretched arm. He didn’t know anything about it, but his arm was raised and the referee didn’t hesitate to point to the spot. Ward-Prowse took it but telegraphed his direction, allowing Ward to guess correctly and save easily.
Five minutes later, Saints took the lead from a lightning break. Che Adams was just onside when he received the ball a yard inside the Leicester half. He immediately laid it off to Carlos Alcaraz, who was clear through on goal. Ward could do nothing, or, if he could, he didn’t, as the Argentine hit it hard and low across the keeper and inside the far post.
Leicester’s response was to get really frustrated, play low-percentage passes, and look very loose at the back. Madders picked up a yellow for holding Walcott out of irritation more than any real tactical reason. We had 60% of the possession, but only 5 shots and not a one on target. Both wingers were well shackled by the Saints’ fullbacks, leaving the Foxes without any obvious avenue of attack. Here’s hoping Rodgers had one heck of a team talk queued up.
Rodgers made one change at the half, withdrawing Barnes for Dennis Praet and, surprisingly, keeping the same formation with the Belgian deployed on the wing. It nearly paid dividends in the first five minutes as Tete found Praet with a glorious crossfield ball. The ersatz left winger had time to measure his cross, which found Iheanacho at the far post, but the Seniorman put his free header wide from close range.
On 65’, Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, apparently bored by his lack of action, absolutely botched a clearance, gifting the ball to Iheanacho on the edge of the area. The Nigeria man took a touch and blasted an effort over the crossbar and onto the roof of the net.
The gaffer made a note on his pad, presumably “none of this is working,” and made a double substitution. Jamie Vardy and Wilfred Ndidi came on for Tete and Mendy, with Praet switching to the right and Madders going wide left in a 4-4-2.
The quarter-hour presented Leicester with the challenge of breaking down a tightly-packed defence. If you’ve been following the Foxes for any length of time, you may recognize that this has not been City’s forte. A corner found its way to Faes on 85’ but he planted his header wide (which, apparently, is our forte).
Five minutes of time were added on, giving the travelling supporters either cause for hope or, more likely, a few more minutes of agony before the long trip home. Madders won a free kick on the edge of the area at the death. Ward came forward because, well, why not? Leicester won a corner from the free kick, with the ball only half-cleared. It came back to Madders, who found Souttar with a peach of a cross, but the Aussie defender hit the bar with the keeper beaten. In the words of Homer Simpson (and no, not that Homer Simpson), “That’s the end of that chapter.”
During seasons like this, you find yourself discovering previously-unsuspected ways to suffer. The Blackburn match was just awful because we were played off the pitch. This was a different kind of awful. We missed sitter after sitter, with four close-range handers going wide or off the crossbar. We didn’t dominate by any means, but we should have had a goal or two. The whole thing just looked, felt, and probably somehow smelled, disjointed and it was unsurprising that we couldn’t make any of our chances count.
Southampton (1.37) 1-0 (1.51) Leicester— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) March 4, 2023
Schoedinger’s match: We both did and did not deserve something from this match at the same time.
The defeat sees us fall to 15th on the table with 24 points from 25 matches. According to my maths, that put us on pace for “relegation.” The good news is that the relegation battle is extremely competitive this year and we remain three points above the zone. We host Chelsea one week from today, and then we travel to west London to square off against Brentford at the Community Stadium on the 18th.