OWTS contributor Ben Thompson is back with his fifth column for Game’s Gone…
Ben is a Saints fan who is currently studying at the University of Edinburgh.
It’s January 2020.
Southampton face Leicester for the first time since that game.
Before the match, the Foxes flash up highlights on their big screen. Goal, Goal, Goal, Goal. You get the picture. There were goals.
Only this time it’s different. The game kicks off and 30,000 Foxes watch Danny Ings beat Kasper Schmeichel for the winner.
Life is good.
It’s been a rollercoaster since then.
Beating Manchester City in July.
Top of the league in November.
A rare come-from-behind win against Burnley.
But let’s return to the 2-1 victory at the King Power last season. Hojbjerg captained us that day.
Aside from him, I’d say our squad this time around is stronger. Vestergaard instead of Stephens, for one.
Walcott (or Che) in for Long. The only other change we’ll probably see is Forster between the sticks over McCarthy.
Despite Fraser’s wobbles at West Brom, his FA Cup clean sheet record doesn’t happen by accident.
The key is for this team to separate cup form and league form.
Tielemans and Iheanacho look to be the key players for Leicester at the moment, and keeping them quiet is imperative.
Per 90 minutes, Tielemans makes 5.55 progressive passes per 90. Iheanacho scores 0.7 goals per 90.
Compare this to Ward-Prowse’s 4.2 progressive passes and Ings’ 0.44 goals.
Youri and Kelechi are dangerous.
They’ll come for us, especially after seeing Monday’s performance.
But we’ve seen Brendan Rodgers’ teams drop off slightly at the end of seasons before.
Liverpool failing to win the title springs to mind. Leicester falling into the Europa League last year.
And they’ve slowed up this season too.
We will be underdogs for this game, but it’s not a foregone conclusion.
If we roll over, like we did on Monday, then I fear it will be a long 90 minutes.
But this is a cup semi-final. We cannot see a repeat performance.
It’s time to show a bit of fight, like we did at the King Power all those months ago.
If we do that, we’ll be in the match and that’s all we ask.