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Talking Point: Record-equalling loss to Leicester spurring Southampton to Premier League history

Published Jan 08, 2020
Jan 08, 2020 IST
Ralph Hasenhuttl - cropped
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl

Ralph Hasenhuttl labelled it a "disaster" and it seemed Southampton would enter a tailspin following their miserable 9-0 home loss to Leicester City in October.

The Saints were a goal behind when Ryan Bertrand was dismissed in the 12th minute, and they shipped eight more in a landslide at St Mary's, suffering the joint-heaviest defeat in Premier League history.

Saturday brings a rematch and Southampton have displayed good humour in the build-up, muting Twitter terms related to the last encounter.

But with a five-game undefeated streak behind them and a European place remarkably not out of reach, a team formerly deemed destined for the drop are on the up.

A review of history with help from Opta data puts the turnaround in clear context, positioning Southampton as potentially the best of the clubs who diced with double-digit defeats.


Bouncing back the easy bit

Hasenhuttl expressed bewilderment in the aftermath of the crushing October result, claiming he had "never seen a team act like this" as he criticised the complete lack of fight.


His words drew a reasonable response as Southampton next recorded 2-1 defeats to Manchester City and Everton respectively, before a 2-2 draw at Arsenal that would have been a win if not for Alexandre Lacazette's equaliser deep into stoppage time.

Home wins over Watford and Norwich City followed to provide further proof that psychological scars can be erased in a relatively short period in the Premier League.

In 1999, Sheffield Wednesday sandwiched a single defeat to Sunderland between an 8-0 loss to Newcastle United and a 5-1 win over Wimbledon.

The Black Cats themselves took the same length of time in 2014 to move past an 8-0 mauling at the hands of none other than Southampton, with one game – an away loss at Arsenal – wedged between that and a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace.

Lessons can clearly be learned in the short term, but for most these results augur an eventual battle for survival.

Sunderland - cropped

Saints sustain top-half tilt

The loss to Leicester left Southampton in the relegation zone, exactly where they began when Hasenhuttl took over in December 2018.

Skip forward 11 top-flight fixtures to the cusp of this weekend's schedule and the Saints are now a mere five points adrift of sixth-placed Tottenham.

That might mean less with the table congested as it is but, sitting 12th after 21 games, Southampton are poised to set a new standard for teams scolded by defeats of eight goals or more.

Two of the five teams previously beaten by such margins limped on to relegation: the Ipswich Town side of 1994-95, who were in a mess by their time of their then outright-record 9-0 loss to Manchester United, and 19th-placed Wednesday in 1999-2000.

Wigan Athletic suffered two eight-goal losses in 2009-10 and still survived after they finished 16th, which is where Sunderland ended in 2014-15.

Aston Villa, 8-0 losers against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December 2012, found their way to 15th that season, a high mark that Southampton have the opportunity to exceed as they look ahead to winnable home meetings with Wolves, Burnley and Villa over their next six fixtures.

Danny Ings - cropped

Watford help chart way forward

Southampton's game against Leicester occurred less than a month after Manchester City's ruthless 8-0 demolition of Watford, and the Hornets are also a team righting their earlier wrongs.

New boss Nigel Pearson's arrival at Vicarage Road has coincided with an upturn that could conceivably have the Hornets out of the bottom three with a win over Bournemouth this weekend.

Never before have two different teams suffered Premier League losses of an eight-goal magnitude or greater in the same campaign.

Together, however, Southampton and Watford are setting about showing how humiliating results need only be regarded as a footnote to the season.

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