May 24, 2024

Southampton had a night to forget on Tuesday, losing 5-0 to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

Russell Martin’s team went into the game knowing that anything less than a win would kill their faint automatic promotion hopes.

As it turned out, they did more than just lose; they suffered a psychological defeat that might be detrimental ahead of the play-offs.

Southampton fell behind 1-0 in the first half due to a defensive blunder by Kyle Walker-Peters, who had his worst game of the season, although Abdul Fatawu’s goal appeared to be offside.

What transpired in the second half, however, was unfathomable, with the Saints conceding four more goals to a rampaging Leicester.

It was the second setback in a row, following the equally devastating loss to Cardiff City at the weekend.

Southampton failed to register a single shot on goal at Leicester, leaving their fans with little reason for confidence.

Russell Martin makes Jack Stephens claim following Leicester loss

Martin was obviously down after the game.

Southampton were missing two vital players, and it showed.

Flynn Downes was injured against Preston last week, and Martin decided not to risk the midfielder at Leicester because the play-offs were the most likely outcome of the season even before the setback.

They were also without Stuart Armstrong, 32, who suffered an injury in the Cardiff defeat and will be sidelined for the rest of the season.

As a result, the midfield appeared out of sync, and Leicester sliced through them like butter.

The fact that Joe Rothwell, the player chosen to replace Armstrong in the lineup, limped off after 39 minutes further exacerbated the problem.

However, Martin stated after the game that if he had played club captain Jack Stephens, the result would never have been so lopsided.

Martin told Daily Echo reporter Alfie House: “If Jack plays tonight, we won’t lose 5-0. My fault.

Jack Stephens likely to start in play-offs

Jack Stephens: Southampton defender signs new two-year contract - BBC Sport

 

The Southampton manager’s response to a defeat was brief and sharp, leaving him with a bad taste in his mouth.

All season, there have been concerns about this team’s attitude, with their failure to finish games and their soft touch defensively sometimes costing them points.

Following Martin’s comment about his captain, it appears that Stephens will be in the lineup for the important play-off games nonetheless.

The 30-year-old has been the subject of much criticism this season, with many believing that his comeback from an injury that kept him out for much of the first half of the season has disrupted the team.

Martin has played Stephens in both full-back and his natural centre-half positions to get his captain into the team.

He had lately left the team, with Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Jan Bednarek starting the last three games.

However, given the Saints’ critical need for a leader, Stephens should be one of the first names on the team sheet moving forward.

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