Southampton play their third game of the Premier League season as they host ex-manager Claude Puel’s Leicester City on Saturday. Saints have the sole point to their name after two games following the 2-1 defeat at Everton last weekend which saw Danny Ings score his first goal for his boyhood side.
Ings was definitely one of few bright sparks at Goodinson Park last weekend, creating chances but also not taking some, the follow up from Pickford’s spill hitting the bar is one example.
Defensively though, Southampton were heavily criticised by fans; centre-back pairing Jack Stephens and Wesley Hoedt being greatly targeted. This may not have been as big a problem if Jannick Vestergaard, who greatly impressed on his debut against Burnley, had been involved, however, the Dane unfortunately missed out due to illness. Luckily for Saints though, the defender was back in training this week and should therefore be set to start against the Foxes!
There are still question marks over whether summer signing Mohamed Elyounoussi, who also missed the game at Everton, will be available for the Leicester game after suffering from a tight hamstring. No confirmation on his availability has been made of yet, however, fans were concerned that he didn’t participate at Southampton’s open training session held at St.Mary’s on Monday.
Given this, Mark Hughes will have to decide whether he chooses James Ward-Prowse, who started at Everton, or Stuart Armstrong, who came off the bench in Merseyside, to play the role of attacking midfielder. This will most likely be summer signing Armstrong, who didn’t start the game at Everton due to suffering a knock during his debut against Burnley the week before, and who impressed during pre-season.
Saturday’s visitors, Leicester City have three points from their opening two games, losing 2-1 at Manchester United followed by a 2-0 home win over newly-promoted Wolves.
The Foxes weren’t given too much praise, however, despite winning last weekend as it was the visitors to the King Power who created more chances, clear-cut ones too. Both Leicester goals were deemed as ‘lucky’, one fortunate own-goal and a big deflection on new-boy James Maddison’s shot which left Wolves scratching their heads as to how they lost the match.
Leicester will be without talisman Jamie Vardy who is suspended after being shown a red-card last weekend but could give new signing Caglar Soyuncu a debut after the defender was granted a work-permit last week.
Last weekend’s goalscorer James Maddison is definitely one to watch, especially after the fact that Southampton had agreed a fee with Norwich for the player in the summer, however, the 21-year-old chose to be closer to home by moving to Leicester.
The young English talent impressed on his debut at Old Trafford and managed to get himself on the scoresheet last weekend so he could definitely prove to be a handful for Saints!
Another opposition player who could be tricky for Saints to deal with is striker Kelechi Iheanacho who could play given the suspension to Jamie Vardy. The striker scored three goals in two appearances against Southampton whilst at Manchester City, two of them coming at St.Mary’s in their 4-2 defeat back in 2016.
Clinical and pacey, the Nigerian could give the Saints defenders a lot of work to do as they look to keep a second successive clean sheet at home.
Harry Maguire is likely to be another stand-out player for the Blues on Saturday after his World Cup heroics for England. The defender was subject to great interest from Manchester United in the summer but the 25-year-old has remained with Claude Puel’s side.
At 6’4’’, the defender is a large physical presence in the air but also reads the game well, putting a foot in when necessary to stop the opposition. It will be very interesting to see the aerial battle between Maguire and Vestergaard when it comes to set-pieces!
I expect a tight game on Saturday with Southampton keeping a lot of the ball given the fact that it’s a home fixture. It will be vital, however, that Saints start well as they’ve gone into their two games this season with very little about them. Albeit, the second halves of both games have been good but Mark Hughes needs to find some consistency in his side that lasts the majority of the game!