Daily Mail

Alcaraz strike may get Saints out of jail

- PAUL BROWN at St Mary’s Stadium

LIFE in the pressure cooker of a Premier League dogfight can be tough when even your son tells you you are going down. But young Arlo Walcott can rest a little easier today now that southampto­n are finally off the foot of the table. And dad Theo, who grew up playing pretty football under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, reckons the gritty way they won this game needs to be their blueprint for survival — because it is time for saints to get their hands dirty. James Ward-Prowse missed a penalty but Carlos Alcaraz scored the winner as the south coast strugglers scrapped their way off the bottom for the first time since November. Walcott, who was handed a rare start, said: ‘I don’t care how we play, as long as we get results. Even though we weren’t great, we were good at doing the dirty stuff, things you don’t want to do but we did it. ‘Make things happen, grind out results. We’re not getting carried away but it’s nice we are not the team at the bottom. ‘My son Arlo keeps on at me about being at the bottom and you are going down. He loves football right now. He will be very happy!’

Walcott has seen plenty in his career but most of it has been played at the other end of the table, and has never had a year like this, with saints sacking two managers already this season. Walcott said: ‘I’ve never experience­d so many managerial changes and I’m nearly 34. It’s disruptive but these guys want to front up.’ Walcott puts the change of mindset down to a fiery team meeting last week in the wake of the club’s humiliatin­g FA Cup exit at home to League Two Grimsby. ‘We’ve had a lot of home truths said behind closed doors. We needed that,’ he said. ‘There’s new positivity around the place. It wasn’t acceptable losing to Grimsby.’ saints had to ride their luck at times, with Kelechi Iheanacho missing three golden chances to equalise for Leicester, and Harry souttar hitting the crossbar in stoppage time. SOUTHAMPTO­N (4-4-2): Bazunu 5; Maitland-Niles 6, Bednarek 7, Bella-Kotchap 6, Walker-Peters 6; ALCARAZ 7.5 (Elyounouss­i 50min, 6), Ward-Prowse 6, Lavia 6, Sulemana 6 (S Armstrong 80); Adams 6 (Mara 63, 6), Walcott 6.5 (A Armstrong 63, 6). Scorer: Alcaraz 35.

Booked: Alcaraz, Adams, A Armstrong. Manager: Ruben Selles 7.

LEICESTER (4-2-3-1): Ward 7; Pereira 6, Souttar 6, Faes 5, Castagne 6; Dewsbury-Hall 6, Mendy 6 (Ndidi 68, 6); Tete 6 (Vardy 68, 6), Maddison 6, Barnes 5 (Praet 46, 6); Iheanacho 4. Booked: Maddison, Barnes.

Manager: Brendan Rodgers 5.5. Referee: Robert Jones 6. Attendance: 30,139.

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