EPL

Southampton 0-9 Leicester City: Record-equalling Foxes maul shambolic Saints

By Sports Desk October 25, 2019

Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy hit hat-tricks as Leicester City stormed to a record-equalling 9-0 Premier League win over a beleaguered 10-man Southampton at St Mary's.

Perez, a close-season signing from Newcastle United, was fouled in the build-up to Ben Chilwell's 10th-minute opener – an incident that saw Ryan Bertrand sent off after a VAR review.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's home side failed comprehensively to deal with their numerical disadvantage as the goals rained in amid a torrential downpour on England's south coast – Youri Tielemans scoring number two before Perez's first Leicester goal set him on the way to a share of the matchball.

The goals flooded in, and James Maddison's superb free-kick made it 8-0 – which at the time matched the biggest margin of away victory in Premier League history.

Leicester went one better still when Vardy won and converted a stoppage-time penalty, to bring the Foxes level with Manchester United's 9-0 shellacking of Ipswich Town in March 1995.

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    Frank Lampard is adamant he can handle the pressure that has come with Chelsea's slump in form, which continued with a 2-0 defeat to Leicester City on Tuesday.

    Goals from Wilfred Ndidi and James Maddison sent Leicester top of the Premier League, nine points clear of a Chelsea side that has now won just two of their last eight league games.

    Lampard's team are five points adrift of the top four, with their 29 points the fewest Chelsea have had at the midway point of the season since 2015-16, when Leicester won the league and the Blues finished 10th.

    Asked about his future at a post-match media conference, head coach Lampard said: "I can't control it. I've been asked before, I understand it, it's the expectations of this club.

    "It's a developing team but I can't get caught up in the reaction. I took this job knowing we would have difficult times.

    "We just have to fight. Where everything was rosy in mid-December, it isn't so rosy now. I am good at handling pressure."

    Chelsea have taken seven points from a possible 24 since going top of the Premier League in December with a win over Leeds United.

    On his side's form, Lampard told BBC Sport: "We were in a really good place in December, second in the league and two points from the top. Maybe complacency set it. There's only one way out of it which is hard work. Today Leicester were in better form than us.

    "It is clearly concerning. It is a period we are not happy with, other clubs have been in that period. All we can think about is getting through the period, working hard. The important thing is the players bounce back. This is the cut-throat nature of what it is.

    "The players have to keep their heads up but also keep their eyes open and review the game and see there was an energy in the Leicester team we didn't have.

    "You cannot be sluggish and slow because it won't work against a team like Leicester that are firing."

    Leicester are top after 19 games or more for the first time since they lifted the trophy in 2016, but Brendan Rodgers' focus is not on their status as potential title challengers.

    "It is still too early. But it shows in the first part of the season consistency has been good and performance levels have been very high," Rodgers said to BBC Sport.

    "This gives the belief to the players. It keeps the momentum going and keeps the concentration. In order to stay there at the top you need desire and hunger and I feel we have seen that from the team."

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    Leicester City underlined their status as Premier League title contenders after a 2-0 win over Chelsea sent the Foxes to the top of the table.

    Under-pressure Chelsea boss Frank Lampard's hopes of building on a 1-0 win at Fulham last time out were dealt a blow inside six minutes when Wilfred Ndidi's strike from the edge of the area put Leicester in front.

    After Chelsea were denied a penalty by VAR, James Maddison continued his rich vein of form to double Leicester's lead four minutes before half-time.

    A lacklustre Chelsea side rarely looked like producing a comeback, meaning Leicester leapfrog both Manchester clubs to go top after 19 games or more for the first time since their title-winning 2015-16 campaign.

    Lampard's side, meanwhile, find themselves nine points behind Leicester and five adrift of the top four.

    Chelsea's failure to deal with a set-piece saw Leicester take the lead in stunning fashion, Ndidi's effort with the outside of his boot cannoning off the post and beyond Edouard Mendy after Harvey Barnes had scuffed Marc Albrighton's pull-back into his path.

    Another long-range strike almost made it 2-0 as Maddison crashed a shot off the crossbar and, after Reece James and Thiago Silva tested Kasper Schmeichel, Mendy was forced to turn an ambitious attempt from Albrighton over the bar.

    Callum Hudson-Odoi fired into the side-netting after good work from Christian Pulisic, with Jamie Vardy then failing to chip Mendy when through on goal, though replays showed he had strayed offside.

    Leicester looked set to be punished for failing to build on their advantage when Jonny Evans tripped Pulisic and Craig Pawson pointed to the penalty spot, only for the VAR, Andre Marriner, to rule the contact had taken place outside the box.

    The hosts instantly took advantage of their reprieve as Maddison coolly stroked home as Albrighton's delicate long ball found Chelsea's defence wanting.

    Brendan Rodgers' men remained in the ascendancy after the break, James Justin off target with a free header and Youri Tielemans denied by Mendy.

    Those missed chances proved immaterial, Timo Werner finding the net for Chelsea only to see the offside flag raised, with the club that shocked the Premier League in 2016 sending a fresh indication they could repeat the feat.

    What does it mean? - Omens good for Leicester challenge

    While so much of the focus has been on title contenders in the north west, Leicester are quietly unbeaten since a December 16 loss to Everton.

    Leicester look primed to pose a serious threat to their more illustrious rivals, who do have games in hand on the Foxes.

    More questions will be asked of Chelsea boss Lampard, however, his team having claimed just seven points from an available 24 since beating Leeds United to go top in December.

    Three in a row for Maddison

    Maddison has now scored in three straight league games for the first time in his career, the midfielder matching his tally from last season (6) despite having played 14 fewer games.

    Road woes for Lampard's defence

    After conceding again at the King Power Stadium, Chelsea have kept a clean sheet in only 17 per cent of their away games in the Premier League under Lampard. Among those to have managed in at least 10 away games, that is the lowest percentage of any Chelsea boss.

    What's next?

    Both teams turn their attention to FA Cup games on Sunday, when Leicester visit Brentford and Chelsea host Luton Town.

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    The 33-year-old has long been linked with a switch to Serie A giants Inter, where his former Argentina team-mate Zanetti – the Albiceleste's most-capped player of all time – is vice-president.

    Former Nerazzurri and Argentina midfielder Veron does not expect Messi to be at Inter next season, but believes it will be down to Zanetti if he does complete a move to San Siro.

    "I don't think he can go to Italy. If he will, it is because of Javier Zanetti, who knows him and will try to talk to him, making him feel important again and to explaining the future projects of the club," Veron told Stats Perform News.

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    Messi has scored 11 goals and assisted two more in LaLiga this term, while converting 58.3 per cent (seven out of 12) of his big chances.

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