• The club’s worst result in its 134-year existence equalled the biggest thumping in Premier League history and left Saints mired in the relegation places.
• Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti looks to build ‘Fortress Goodison’ as Jose Mourinho struggles to plug Tottenham’s defensive leak.
A seismic 10-goal swing in fortunes, a mere 78 days apart.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl insisted on Saturday that his side’s victory over Leicester was not about revenge for their 9-0 thrashing in October — but it must have tasted pretty sweet.
“We didn’t want to have revenge. We wanted to show ourselves how far we are now in our development. This was the only target we had,” Hasenhuttl said following Saints’ 2-1 win over Leicester City.
A record-equalling capitulation at the hands of Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes 11 weeks earlier appeared to signal Hasenhuttl’s time as Southampton manager was nearing a painful conclusion.
The club’s worst result in its 134-year existence equalled the biggest thumping in Premier League history and left Saints mired in the relegation places.
Prior to the November international break, Southampton had taken just eight points from their opening 12 fixtures.
Fast forward to 2020 and only runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool — having made the best ever start to a Premier League campaign — and reigning champions Manchester City stand above Hasenhuttl’s revitalised side in the form table over the past 10 games.
They have since amassed 20 points from 10 games to leap from 19th to level with 10th-placed Arsenal in the table — and now sit six points from a Europa League position and eight clear of the drop zone.
That may have something to do with striker Danny Ings, who took his goal tally to 16 for the season, with 15 in his past 17 games - 40% of the 27-year-old’s Premier League goals have arrived this season.
Leicester’s only goal this time around made Southampton the 25th side to concede 10 against a single opponent in a Premier League season, but just the third side to oversee a positive 10-goal swing in the scoreline.
Manchester United, previous sole owners of the biggest win in Premier League history, bounced back from a 3-2 defeat by Ipswich to win the reverse fixture 9-0 in 1994-95, while Chelsea lost 3-1 to Wigan before clinching the title with an 8-0 win in 2009-10.
Everton were the last side to ship 10 goals against a single opponent — losing 5-2 and 5-1 against Arsenal in the 2017-18 campaign — and, perhaps surprisingly, Saturday’s win saw Saints become the fourth side to do so and still win one of the two meetings.
Can Ancelotti build Fortress Goodison?
Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti looks to build ‘Fortress Goodison’ as Jose Mourinho struggles to plug Tottenham’s defensive leak.
While Hasenhuttl has been busy making the case for clubs sticking with their manager, Ancelotti and Nigel Pearson are doing a commendable job in forwarding the opposite argument at Everton and Watford respectively.
On Merseyside, Ancelotti appears to have his eyes set on establishing Goodison Park as a fortress.
The Italian former Chelsea boss marked his 40th home Premier League game with a 1-0 victory over Brighton on Saturday.
That result takes his home clean sheet percentage to a staggering 60% — the highest of anyone to manage 40 or more home games in the competition.
Director of football Marcel Brands addressed a group of angry supporters at the club’s training headquarters in the aftermath of Everton’s limp derby defeat by under-strength Liverpool in the FA Cup, and Ancelotti used Saturday’s much improved display to call for sustained home support.
“The support of the stadium is really important for us. When we play here we want to feel at home,” he said.
But Goodison evidently already feels very much at home for a Toffees side who have now kept 10 clean sheets in their past 16 home league games.
In fact, only Liverpool (15) have kept more home clean sheets in the division since the start of last season than Everton - with Chelsea the only other side able to match the Toffees’ tally of 14. Fantasy football managers, take note.
Mourinho’s defensive woes
Ancelotti may be receiving a call from Tottenham counterpart Mourinho sometime soon. Renowned for establishing dogged defences at Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, the Portuguese is struggling to have a similar impact at Spurs.
They have only kept two clean sheets all season, the joint-worst record in the league alongside rock-bottom Norwich. But a 1-0 defeat by leaders Liverpool means Tottenham have already conceded 20 goals in their 13 games under Mourinho, keeping one clean sheet in that time.
That makes them the quickest of any Mourinho team to have shipped 20 goals. Indeed, in his first stint in England with Chelsea, it took Mourinho’s water-tight Blues an impressive 44 games to concede that many. And of his eight managerial spells, only at Porto and Manchester United has a Mourinho side conceded 20 goals before his 20th match in charge.
Rashford’s 200th as Greenwood makes his case
It was a perfect weekend for Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, who marked his 200th United appearance with two goals in a 4-0 win over Norwich. At 22 years and two months old, he is the fourth youngest player to reach the landmark for Manchester United behind Norman Whiteside, George Best and Ryan Giggs - and six months ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Rashford is already enjoying his most prolific Premier League campaign after the first 22 games, registering 14 goals. He has scored 19 goals this season, a tally bettered only by Raheem Sterling’s 20 among Premier League players, and now has 64 goals for United since making his debut in February 2016.
Elsewhere, 18-year-old academy graduate Mason Greenwood is beginning to sparkle. A goal five minutes after emerging from the bench made it three goals in his past five league appearances and took the striker’s tally to nine for the season.
His four in the Premier League is twice as many as any other teenager in the competition in 2019-20, with Newcastle’s Matthew Longstaff and Brighton’s Aaron Connolly (both two) the only others to score more than once.
Greenwood only has until the end of next season if he is to topple Robbie Fowler’s 1994-95 record of 23 goals by a teenager in a single Premier League season, though.