There will have been a party in the Southampton dressing room at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
The Saints travelled north to face Leicester City, and few will have bet on Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men picking up all three points. However, that is exactly what they did, winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Stuart Armstrong and Danny Ings after Dennis Praet had opened the scoring for the Foxes.
It’s the dawn of a new decade in the Premier League, but how much do you know about the last 10 years?
It is the latest victory in a fantastic run for the south-coast club. They have now won six of their last 10 games, and have lost just two during that time. After staring relegation in the face, they have battled their way out of trouble and now look far safer in 12th position. Not only that, they have beaten the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea as well as Leicester during that vein of form.
Hasenhuttl deserves credit for the way he has turned things around at St. Mary’s Stadium, and it is a tactical switch that has helped changed his side’s fortunes.
During the first six games, the Austrian used a 4-4-2 formation three times, and it produced acceptable results – Southampton won one, drew one and lost one of those matches. However, clearly the boss wasn’t happy with that set-up, as he didn’t use it again once during the next six clashes.
That produced horrific results. Southampton drew one and lost five of those games, seeing them plunge to 19th in the table. At that point, it was hard to predict anything other than the Saints dropping down to the Championship – don’t forget, they lost 9-0 in the reverse fixture against Leicester during that spell.
Fortunately, Hasenhuttl decided to go back to basics, which has seen his side embark on that rather impressive run. Even when they endured back-to-back losses against Newcastle and West Ham, the 52-year-old stayed firm and stuck to his guns. It has paid dividends.
In today’s footballing world, there is a certain snobbery towards the classic 4-4-2. It has been treated as the quintessential English formation – Mike Bassett is a famous fan – that foreign, sophisticated coaches wouldn’t even consider. Hasenhuttl, though, has used it to great effect once again against another high-flying side.
Whilst there is still plenty of this term left, Southampton have breathing space and can begin to relax a little. Hasenhuttl deserves most of the credit for that.
Elsewhere, Southampton fans react to Adam Blackmore’s transfer update.