Leicester 0-0 Southampton: Struggling Saints held in dour stalemate
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 19/04/18 10:49pm
Southampton remain deep in relegation trouble after they could only manage a 0-0 draw against a below-par Leicester at the King Power Stadium.
The hosts arguably had the game's best chance, as Alex McCarthy produced a fine save to deny a trademark effort from Jamie Vardy with 20 minutes remaining.
It was a rare moment of quality during a cagey affair, with Southampton's best chance to break the deadlock falling to Shane Long in the second half, but Ben Hamer was out quick to smother his shot.
The point means the Saints are still four points adrift of safety, with 17th-placed Swansea to play their game in hand away to Manchester City this weekend.
Leicester: Hamer (6), Chilwell (7), Maguire (6), Dragovic (6), Albrighton (7), Ndidi (8), Silva (6), Gray (5), Mahrez (6), Iheanacho (6), Vardy (6).
Subs: Barnes (n/a), Diabate (5), Choudhury (n/a).
Southampton: McCarthy (7), Cedric (7), Bertrand (6), Yoshida (7), Hoedt (7), Bednarek (6), Romeu (5), Hojbjerg (6), Ward-Prowse (6), Tadic (5), Long (6).
Subs: Davis (5), Austin (5), Redmond (n/a).
Man of the match: Wilfred Ndidi
Mark Hughes, who fielded an unchanged side despite Southampton's FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Sunday, may see this as a missed opportunity to close the gap further on their relegation rivals given Leicester's subdued display.
Claude Puel will have relished the chance to do a domestic double over his former club, but after seeing his team now go three games without a victory, the Frenchman will be keen for the season not to peter out in the remaining four games.
His side made the brighter start on Thursday night, and the energetic Kelechi Iheanacho came close to breaking the deadlock after 17 minutes as the Nigeria international reacted fastest to his own blocked shot to regain possession and curl a shot just a yard wide of McCarthy's right-hand post.
Leicester made five changes to the side that were beaten by Burnley. Ben Hamer, Aleksander Dragovic, Marc Albrighton, Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho came in for Kasper Schmeichel, Wes Morgan, Danny Simpson, Hamza Choudhury and Shinji Okazaki. Southampton were unchanged from the defeat by Chelsea.
But that was as good as it got for the Foxes in the opening 45 minutes, with Dusan Tadic and Cedric Soares spurning half-chances for the visitors without testing Hamer.
That would change 12 minutes into the second half as Tadic's deflected shot fell kindly for Long via Harry Maguire's outstretched leg, but the Republic of Ireland striker could only fire straight at Hamer.
Vardy had endured a frustrating evening having been ruled offside on several occasions, but he very nearly produced another moment of magic to give his side the lead from Marc Albrighton's inch-perfect pass.
The England striker managed to wriggle himself clear of the three-man Southampton defence to meet the makeshift right-back's ball over the top, but McCarthy was equal to his measured volley to ensure the Saints head back south with at least a point.
Claude Puel: "The result is not enough because we played at home. I'm happy with our performance because it was a good game with good variety on the floor.
"We had many chances to score in the first half and it was important to score in this moment when we dominated the game, as well as in the final 30 minutes."
Mark Hughes: "I think 0-0 is a fair result. I don't think there were many clear-cut chances. Arguably we had the best one where the keeper makes a good block from Long, but we didn't create enough chances of note.
"We played better against Arsenal and Chelsea but didn't get anything out of it. This sets us up for the remaining games. We're heading towards a stage when we can't hold back and we'll have to throw the kitchen sink at it."
Man of the match: Wilfred Ndidi
This was a game where the onus was on Southampton to drag themselves closer to the sides above the relegation zone, but their frustration in creating goalscoring opportunities owed a lot to the returning Ndidi.
The indefatigable Nigeria midfielder was suspended for Leicester's last two games after picking up his second red card of the season in the 2-0 win over Brighton but he barely put a foot wrong during a match low on attacking excellence.
Ndidi made six tackles in this match; double the number of any other player. Overall this season, he has made the most tackles in the competition (135); 29 more than any other player.
- This was the 27th 0-0 draw in the Premier League this season, equalling the tally from 2016-17 (27) but with four matchdays left to play.
- Southampton have been involved in five of these goalless draws in 2017-18; more than any other side.
- Southampton did not attempt a single shot on target until the 57th minute of this match. They only attempted one more in the game, and that came in the 90th minute.
- Leicester City have collected 44 points this season, level with their points tally in the whole of 2016-17.
- Southampton (29 points) need three points from their remaining four league games of the season to even match their worst-ever points tally in a Premier League season (32 in 2004-05, when they finished bottom).
- After winning the 2015-16 Premier League title with 23 wins to their name, Leicester City have won the exact same number of matches (23) in 72 games since August 2016.
Southampton head to face Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley before returning to Premier League action against Bournemouth on April 28. Leicester travel to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on the same day.