Leicester at home on a Friday night, what could possibly go wrong? Moving the game to Friday night has given football media world at large yet another reason to bring up one of our 9-0 defeat. Not that they really need another reason. It may be a game to watch with the commentary turned off and have the dulcet tones of Alan Blackmore and Dave Merrington instead.
Since we played them a couple of weeks ago in the semi-final, Leicester have gone from strength to strength, winning their next two games. One of those wins we should be very grateful for as they stuffed West Brom 3-0. Other results in the Premier League have gone our way as well with Burnley being the only team below us who have managed to win a game, with the win being a very eyebrow-raising 4-0 win away at Wolves. Actually, that statement about no teams below us winning is not quite accurate because Sheffield United won a game but we would’ve wanted them to win that game against Brighton so all is good.
Having thought that Leicester weren’t very good in the semi-final, they were very good in the game against West Brom and really do look nailed on for one of the Champions League places next season, now that the threat of the Super League has gone away.
Talking of that, it’s been very good to see the six clubs attempted trashing of 150 years of football history and the English football pyramid, punished swiftly and harshly. Oh sorry, I made that last bit up. Fuck all has happened. Well, there’s been a few fan protests but the majority are complicit in their indifference to their clubs wrongdoing. Arsenal fans have irritated the fuck out of me this week, getting all excited about a potential new billionaire coming in. That’s not taking back control of the club is it? It’s just hoping that this billionaire is going to be better than the one you’ve currently got and he’s going to throw a shed loads of money at it, in a bid to make you less shit. Fuck off.
In addition to beating West Brom, Leicester have also beaten Crystal Palace since the semi-final whereas the only game we had was the disappointing last minute defeat against The North London White Cocks. Kelechi Iheanacho, having scored the slightly fortunate winner in the semi-final, has subsequently scored in the two games they’ve had since so he is doubtlessly going to be the main threat today. This is a big game for Ralph and a big test for “we win or we learn“. As it has been less than two weeks since we lost to this team, it’ll be a good chance to see if we have actually learned anything. I really hope that we stick with the JWP/Stuart Armstrong central midfield pairing for starters.
I’m scratching my head a bit. Just seen the team and there are 3 centre backs and no left back. Jack Stephens is either going to be part of a back 3 or maybe at left back. If the former, who is left wing back? Tella? KWP with JWP on the right? So many questions…..Minamino is in for Walcott and Redmond has replaced the injured Ings.
“Leicester have a full strength side and it’s Friday night, 9-0 night and it’s LIIIIIIVE”, says Martin Tyler… “and next to me on commentary, ex-Leicester striker and all round boring dull as shit pundit, Alan Smith. Your referee today is a 12 year old by the name of Robert Jones but he’s backed up by the experience of Jon Moss in the VAR room, eating his dinner”.
We start well and it looks like we have a plan to get Tella on the left and Minamino / KWP into he space behind their wing backs. An early ping over Thomas on our right, finds KWP and he controls and lifts over Schmeichel and there is the briefest of seconds when I think it’s a goal before the flag goes up. It’s close but fair enough.
Minamino, who has looked totally unsuited to playing our version of the No10 position, then gets it right and pressures Soyunchu and wins the ball. On It goes to Adams on the right and his pull back finds Tella who bobbles a shite effort straight to Schmeichel from about 12 yards out. Has to do better there but on the replay, you can see the ball bobbles just before it reaches him.
Good start though and then…. We are casually playing it around at the back. Vestergaard finds Armstrong who gives it back to him and there’s a disconnect as the signals from Jannik’s brain, fail to travel the 6 foot 7 to his feet and the ball rolls under it. He lunges at the ball, pokes it back towards McCarthy and catches Vardy on the follow through. The 12 year old with the whistle, blows and almost instantly waves a red card. Fuck off!!! Bednarek isn’t worried – he knows that Jannik played the ball and no Leicester players are in the ref’s face. Of we go to Stockley Park.
“Hi Mossy it’s wee Bobby Jones, apologies for interrupting your dinner”
“Are you behaving yourself there Bobby boy – past your bedtime isn’t it?”
“I know Mossy, can you check the shiny red card I’ve just given”
“Who was it against, I wasn’t watching?”
“The Big Friendly Giant Guy, I’ve got a colouring book of that at home that my mummy reads me”
“He’s Southampton isn’t he?”
“Off then isn’t he. They’ll collapse and get hammered. It’s in the Sky script they gave you”
“They’re all saying he got the ball Mossy?”
“Just say it was denying a goalscoring chance – it’s subjective – works every time”
“OK, Mossy. I’ll give it my best grin as he goes.”
Off he goes… for fucks sake. Ralph reacts straight away and on comes Salisu for the unlucky Tella. Here we fucking go, watching Maddison put this in the net… oooof, just wide. Thank fuck.
Redmond has dropped in on the left and Salisu has gone to left sided centre back with Stevo remaining at left back. We actually look decent – very solid and composed no one over committing to pressing. It’s decent and Leicester aren’t creating much. There is one jchance just before half time when they quicken up their passing and Ndidi finds Tielemans in the penalty area but he drills his shot straight at McCarthy who blocks well. Usually in theiis scenario, we’re 5-0 down by now but it’s half time and we’re still level. Well done boys.
The second half starts ok with the only slight concern being a Castagne cross from the right which McCarthy gathers in slightly awkward fashion. Leicester have taken Fofana off and brought Ayoze Perez on as Brendan realises that they don’t need three centre backs against one striker. The good news is that Perez is shite but the bad news is that he’s never shite against us. We are making occasional efforts to press now and Castagne gets tagged by Adams and then attempts to make up for it by bringing Armstrong down, virtually on the goal line. With no option to shoot, JWP shapes to cross and instead rolls it back to Armstrong, whose left footed effort is blocked by Iheanacho’s arm which is up in the air. The 12 year old gives a penalty and I hope his pocket money goes up. Not even fucking Jon Moss can overrule that one and say it was a definite mistake.
Whilst the review is happening, Tyler and Smith can’s resist looking at JWP’s penalty graphic showing 2 goals and 3 misses. Theyre’ getting all excited as he steps up… and smashes it low into the usual corner of the net. Schmeichel goes the right way but he isn’t saving that. Fucking hell, we’re winning.
For a second , the excitement seems to get to us and we are all flying into the press and getting bypassed but then common sense prevails and we settle back into it. Maddison is doing his best but all of his long range pot-shots are off target. Perez tries one and McCarthy has to shovel it over the bar. They’re not really creating much in the way of clear cut chances but then of course, they do. Iheanacho receives the ball from Ndidi on our left and swings over a cross which is met by Evans and 1-1. Shit goal – he was marked and then left as we ball watched. Agh!
Time for a change and it’s Minamino off, Diallo on. Like with the previous sub, Ralph has left things unchanged and Diallo takes up station in front of KWP on the right. 79,80 and then the chances start coming. Maddison picks out Vardy on the left and he chops back inside KWP and goes for the near post and hits Macca’s boot. Vardy then gets picked out by Tielemans and he finds Ndidi who fires wide as JWP and KWP throw themselves at the ball. We are so committed, compared to what we’re usually like.
There is one fuck ing heart attack as Albrighton crosses, McCarthy comes for it, makes a bollocks of it and ends up heading it about a foot wide of the post. 3 mins extra to go and time for the last sub. My son and I are giving Che Adams a standing ovation as he crawls off. He’s been superb tonight – what a shift. On comes N’Lundulu and he’s carries on the good work, haring about after everything.
Blow the fucking whistle you grinning 12 year old bastard… it’s bed time… fuck off…. Yassssss!
What a performance that was. Absolutely brilliant effort from all the players. There wasn’t one who let their head drop, not one who stopped running, not one who gave anything less than 100% all game. Absolutely fabulous.
You know when those fucking surveys come round from the club, when they are trying to get you to spend money on an Artisan burger before the game and stick around in the fan Gulag after the game? Every time I get one of those I write something along the lines of I wanna turn up, watch the guys in red-and-white give 100% for 90 minutes, clap the players off and then go home. That was it tonight, that was perfect. I don’t care that we didn’t win I wouldn’t have cared that much even if we had eventually lost. We gave 100%, in adversity, for 90 minutes.
Let’s start with the adversity. Fucking hell.
On what planet is that a red card? Jannik has been sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity. Imagine this. A cross comes into the box and a centre back jumps up and heads it clear but as he lands on the ground (which he has to do due to gravity) he lands on a strikers foot. He’s denied a goal scoring chance and made contact with a player after doing so. He can’t help the gravity thing in the same way that Vestergaard was always going to make contact with Vardy having won the ball with a one footed tackle. I know he made it difficult for himself with a horrific first touch but even so, that is not a foul. With the nanny state rules that we have these days I could understand if he gave a foul and gave a yellow card but even that would’ve been harsh. To give a red card is bullshit and to give it for denying a goalscoring chance is even more bullshit. He’s knocked the ball past before he makes contact with Vardy, so the ball is with McCarthy, so how is it a goalscoring opportunity?
The 12-year-old fucking grinning twat with a whistle could’ve been helped by the fucking fat twat eating a sandwich in the VAR room but Jon Moss again show that he is not fit for purpose. He’s also not fit to referee. He’s also just not fit. It was interesting that Ralph named the VAR ref in his post match interview. They have obviously been talking about the amount of shite decisions we have got off of Jon Moss.
Sky had tried to create this narrative that this was going to be another game very similar to the 9-0 game. First of all they move it to a Friday night and then Martin Tyler and Alan Smith had already established that they were going to be the most Leicester-centric commentary pairing in history. I’ll bet the Sky execs were rubbing their hands with glee when, like in the 9-0 game, we got a red card after 10 minutes. With Nathan Tella being the unlucky player sacrificed to be replaced by Mohammed Salisu and the immediate freekick from Maddison survived, we set to work and did the job superbly.
We were lead from the front by Che Adams who I think won more headers and challenges than he has in his entire Saints career to date. It was the perfect striker performance for Ralph’s system. He looked absolutely knackered at the end. The midfielders dug in really well I was really impressed with the discipline shown by Redmond, Armstrong and in particular Minamino. This is not his style of game at all but he really played with the defensive mindset and reined in any attacking instincts to make sure he was in the right place.
Jack Stephens is like a fish up a tree at left back as has no left foot. It was amusing watching him do a kind of inverse Roberto Carlos and clearing ball with the outside of his right foot up the line the whole time. He had a great game defensively and did what he had to do. Also, he took over from Ryan Bertrand as our time-wasting shithouse in chief, not winning or throw-in or free kick without kicking the ball away afterwards and managing to not get booked. Bednarek and Salisu were absolutely magnificent in the centre of defence and Salisu is going to be some player once he gets up to full speed. It’s rare to see a central defender that powerful and strong and also that quick. KWP probably had his best defensive game at right back. One back post defensive header to deny Vardy right at the end made me think of Cedric and laugh my head off. Then there was Alex McCarthy who earned the bit of luck that he got from the flying beck header that nearly ended up on his own net. The save from Vardy’s close-range blast was what won us the point in the end.
When I saw the 11 names on the team sheet of the start, I did wonder what on earth Ralph was doing and whether we were going to play 3 at the back. I still don’t really understand why Salisu wasn’t playing from the start unless it was because he wasn’t 100% fit. In hindsight it looks like we had a plan to get behind their full backs with Tella and Minamino. For the first 10 minutes it was actually working quite well. KWP had that goal disallowed and we were looking good until the red card changed everything. Early red cards as we know, usually mean we get fucking annihilated so it was good to see that we had learned and two lines of four and 100% commitment will take you a long way.
What I liked about the performance was that it showed that the players are still playing for the manager which I was beginning to question a little bit. If they weren’t, then we would’ve folded today and got beaten by three or four. Ralph showed that he had learned, not only from the United drubbing but also from last week at Spurs. Then, he brought on Diallo and swapped a few players positions and it went tits skywards. Today, when Salisu came on for Tella/Vestergaard and when Diallo came on for Minamino, there was a little change to the line-up as possible so the pre-match gameplan was disrupted as little as possible. Salisu went to centre back instead of left back and Diallo went onto the right wing instead of in the middle. It really was a great effort from everyone and we can now look forward a bit to the rest of the remaining games.
As I said at the start, it was definitely a game to skip the commentary from Sky and just listen to Radio Solent. I didn’t have chance to get this up in time, so I subjected myself to Martin Tyler and Alan Smith giving the most ridiculous biased commentary I have ever heard. Martin Tyler is just old and he has to go and Alan Smith should just not be allowed anywhere near Arsenal or Leicester games. There was not much sports media reaction to look at because of the three day social media boycott to try and highlight the racism problem that we have on social media but I’ll just say that if you see any pundit have the opinion that Vestergaard deserved to get sent off, then that pundit knows nothing about football.
Who have we got next? – oh shit – Liverpool away.