A moment of respect for Ralph Hasenhuttl and his Southampton side who will still have lots of sleepless nights following the 9-0 humiliation at the hands of Leicester City. Jamie Vardy and Ayoze Perez both scored hat-tricks as the Foxes belted the Saints by nine goals last Friday.
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
It was a literal show of supremacy from Leicester City and from a Southampton perspective, it was a day of gloom where there was no single positive to take home. Leicester were already 5-0 up as at first half and the atmosphere was so bad the Saints faithful were seen leaving the stadium prematurely. We can forgive the fans who made those choices. Who wouldn’t do the same in such circumstances? Losing is part of football but getting humiliated by nine goals in front of your own home fans is utterly disappointing.
The words from the Saints boss after the sorry defeat further highlighted the story for Southampton.
“That was one of the tough ones tonight. The performance was a disaster and I have to apologize and take 100% responsibility,” Hasenhuttl told The Guardian.
“I’ve never seen a team act like this, there was no fight for anything.
“It was horrible to watch and everyone who stayed to watch is really a fan of this football club. I’m a proud man, but the way we play today is not the way I want to see my team play.
“I said we must play to the last minute, but I can understand why the fans left. We all must to do everything to pull this back.”
To think that wasn’t enough, the Southampton players and coaching staff also donated one day’s wages to the club’s foundation as some sort of apology for the defeat (via Telegraph). It was a day to forget for Southampton but one Leicester would remember a whole lot more in their history.
For Leicester though, this win was worth way more than goals. Despite the outcome of the game dominated by Leicester’s equaling feats, there was much more to take home than a resounding victory. While the major headlines were all about the fact that the Foxes sealed the largest away win in English football history and at the same time equalled the Premier League record for victory margin set by Manchester United against Ipswich in the 1994-95 season (Skysports) – many failed to realize what this win meant to the members of the top six potentially.
9 – Leicester have recorded the biggest-ever victory by an away side in an English top-flight league match in the 131-year history of the Football League. Supreme. pic.twitter.com/7VXJIYiGiW
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 25, 2019
Can Leicester upset the usual names of the top six?
From a Leicester perspective, it was a clear statement to the members of the top six showing their confidence and character in general. While some neutrals may call the win “disrespectful”, the ruthless approach shown by the Foxes highlighted what the team have been all about since Brendan Rodgers appointment in February.
“I was very pleased with our work rate. We scored some great goals and were very hungry tonight,” Rodgers told Skysports after the game.
“I’m very pleased with how we defended and how ruthless we were. I’m very proud to stand and be the manager of that team.”
In a nutshell, Leicester have shown that they are more than capable of upsetting the usual order of members for the top six. Right after Leicester won the League in 2016, many called it a “fluke” season and Leicester have gone on to finish 12th and 9th twice in subsequent seasons since then (Premier League). But If anything is to go by as it stands, it’s safe to say this Leicester side could well be in the top four come the end of the season.
With Liverpool and Manchester City looking set to battle it out between themselves once again, It leaves room for only one more member of the usual top six to come in (assuming Leicester do finish in third or fourth position at the end of the season). Leicester sit in third place with 20 points on par with Chelsea in fourth place but with a far lesser goal difference (seven) than the Foxes (11).
Elsewhere in the standings, Arsenal are fifth with a tally of 16 points while United lie further below in 7th place with 13 points – seven lesser than Leicester City. To spot the last member of the top six in Tottenham, you’ll have to go as low as 11th place where Spurs only have 12 points and are eight points behind Leicester (Skysports).
To show how the power forces have changed, Leicester’s goal difference tally of 17 means they are three more than the tally of Chelsea (seven), Arsenal (one), United (three) and Tottenham (0ne) combined. Funny what one result can do.
It further highlights the fact that the Foxes have all sorts of advantages at the moment and are now in a very legitimate shout for a Champions League spot next season. While it’s still too early to be definitive about anything, the struggling form of the likes of United, Arsenal and Tottenham is room for further optimism in the Leicester camp. If Leicester can keep racking up as much points as they can, it could well mean the usual top six is set to be altered once again.
On the long term perspective, it could mark the beginning of the end for the stronghold put up by the so called “big six” with the Foxes leading that charge. Perhaps other “lesser” clubs can take a clue from Rodgers men and channel that inspiration into performances on the pitch as well. If Leicester keep up with this intensity and are consistent in the process, it’s only a matter of time before they’ll earn rights to be in the traditional top six.