Southampton will look to bounce back from their recent slump when they welcome Leicester City to St. Mary’s in the Premier League on Wednesday evening.
Southampton will be looking to put their miserable 4-0 loss to Liverpool behind them while Leicester will be vying for back-to-back wins when both sides lock horns at St Mary’s in Midweek’s Premier League fixture.
Southampton have endured a difficult campaign so far, they put together a consistent four-game unbeaten streak before the international break, but two humbling defeats on the road against Norwich and Liverpool have seen the Saints slip to 15th in the table after 13 games – five points clear of the relegation zone.
However, the South Coast outfit will certainly hope for better fortunes this time around in front of their home crowd. The Saints will play their first home game since Premier League action resumed this month; they have a good recent record at home, bagging an impressive seven points from the last nine available at St. Mary’s, keeping clean sheets in wins over Burnley and Aston Villa.
Leicester, meanwhile, are still some way off challenging for a European place, currently sitting at an underwhelming 10th place in the standings, as the Midlands outfit is yet to hit their strides this campaign. The Foxes come into the clash on the back of thrashing Watford 4-2 at the King Power Stadium. Jamie Vardy netted a brace while a classic James Maddison stole the show with a goal and two wonderful assists.
Brendan Rodgers will be hoping to build on their impressive performance as the Foxes ended a three-game winless run in the league. The same fixture last season ended in a low-key 1-1 draw at St. Mary’s. Ahead of the latest meeting between both sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
Southampton will be without the services of Stuart Armstrong while Jack Stephens is close to returning, but this game might come too soon for him. Ibrahima Diallo is expected to return after twisting his ankle last week. Moussa Djenepo is also a doubt for the Leicester game.
? "I hope we have this crowd behind us as they can help us."
The boss has spoken about the importance of the #SaintsFC fans at St Mary's this week:
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) November 30, 2021
Saints boss Hasenhuttl’s bravely switched to a back-three formation last time out at Liverpool, but it did not yield the desired result, which means the Austrian tactician is almost certain to revert back to 4-4-2 system, with the likes of Kyle Walker-Peters, Nathan Redmond all returning to the Starting XI.
Despite a poor performance at Norwich and four goals conceded away at Liverpool, Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy is likely to keep his place between the sticks. Guarding him will be the central defensive pairing of Jan Bednarek and Mohammed Salisu. Bednarek has not been at his best this campaign, and with Stephens and Lyanco pushing starting spots, he should better start performing sooner rather than later.
At full-back, Tino Livramento has started all 13 league games this campaign and will be due a recovery rest soon, but Hasenhuttl has insisted that the Chelsea academy product is not tired. He will duly take his place at right-back while Kyle Walker-Peters could return in the left-back slot. In midfield, Oriol Romeu will be partnered with skipper James Ward-Prowse in the engine room once more.
Nathan Redmond came off the bench and will almost certainly regain his starting place against Leicester, while Mohamed Elyounoussi should be well-rested after missing out on the Anfield trip due to his partner giving birth. He can return on the left flank. Che Adams, Adam Armstrong and Armando Broja will compete for the two starting spots in the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): McCarthy; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters; Elyounoussi, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Redmond; Armstrong, Adams
Youri Tielemans is making good progress in his recovery from a calf injury, but he might not be available for midweek, while James Justin remains out of contention. Ricardo Pereira and Wesley Fofana remain the long-term absentees, and Ryan Bertrand’s availability is uncertain. Given the short turnaround, Foxes’ boss Brendan Rodgers will have to assess and manage his players’ fatigue, paying special caution to skipper Jonny Evans and Jamie Vardy.
"He’s progressing really well." ✊
Brendan Rodgers offered the latest on Youri Tielemans ahead of #SouLei.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) November 29, 2021
But with a trip to Southampton offering an excellent opportunity to build on the momentum and climb higher up in the Premier League table, the Northern Irish manager could name an unchanged starting lineup he fielded last weekend while persisting with the newly adopted 4-2-3-1 formation. Kasper Schmeichel will retain his place in between the sticks despite looking shaky in recent weeks.
The visitors could line up with a back four of Timothy Castagne, Jonny Evans, Caglar Soyuncu and young left-back Luke Thomas on Wednesday night. The backline would try to make a collective effort to preserve their first clean sheet since the opening day of the Premier League season with all six of their away games so far seeing both teams score, making it a tough task for their attackers.
Wilfred Ndidi and Boubakary Soumare will assume the duties of the holding midfielders in the double midfield pivot as they try to get a foothold in the game in the middle of the park and stop the Saints from creating too many chances on turnovers from their effective press. They will also hold the responsibility to progress the ball forwards.
James Maddison will provide the creative impetus, operating in the attacking midfielder role, while Harvey Barnes and Ademola Lookman will likely be the starters on the flanks amidst stiff competition from Marc Albrighton and Ayoze Perez. They remain an option from the bench. Sharpshooter Jamie Vardy will again lead the line for the Foxes’ down the middle, posing a threat with his instinctive poaching skills.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Castagne, Soyuncu, Evans, Thomas; Ndidi, Soumare; Lookman, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy
- Leicester have won three of their last four Premier League games at St. Mary’s Stadium, scoring a total of 16 goals along the way.
- Southampton have lost six of their seven midweek games in 2021, conceding 25 goals in those matches, including a 9-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United in February.
- Southampton’s home league games have seen the fewest goals being scored in the Premier League this season (9), with the Saints scoring five and conceding four.
- Leicester have both scored and conceded in each of their last 13 games on the road in the Premier League, with only Blackburn having a longer streak of both scoring and conceding in consecutive away games (14) back in 2012.
- The Saints have only lost just twice in their last 11 Premier League home games and have conceded just four league goals at St. Mary’s this season – only Manchester City have conceded fewer at home turf.
Player To Watch
Maddison looks to have finally regained his mojo and played exceptionally well against Watford last weekend. He bagged a goal and provided two assists in what was a classy performance from the Englishman. When on song, the 25-year-old is in the conversation among the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League and is entertaining to watch.
His vision and technical ability to split defences is a huge asset for Leicester, while his telepathic link-up with Jamie Vardy could only bode well for the Midlands outfit. James Maddison has had a direct hand in five goals in Leicester’s last two matches. He will again be the creative lynchpin for the Foxes at Southampton and will look to build on his recent upturn in form.
Southampton 1-1 Leicester City
Southampton have suffered successive Premier League defeats over the past week and will need a result here to avoid getting into a relegation scrap this season. Leicester City are a better quality team on paper than Saints and are brimming with confidence after their recent results domestically and in Europe.
But it is always difficult to anticipate what to expect from this inconsistent Leicester side, who are leaking goals for fun. Losing 4-0 to Liverpool should not hinder Southampton’s track, especially considering their sound defensive record at home so far this season. Hence, The Hard Tackle predicts an intense affair at St. Mary’s, with Southampton coming away with a respectable point in a 1-1 share of spoils.