Premier League 18/19: Southampton vs Leicester City — Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Claude Puel returns to St Mary’s in the away dugout as his Leicester City side head to the south coast to face Southampton.
15:00 BST, Saturday 25th August, St Mary’s Stadium
Southampton will look to secure their first win of the campaign when Leicester City visit St. Mary’s on Saturday afternoon. Mark Hughes’ side have taken only one point from their opening two matches and were beaten at Everton last time out.
Leicester City have started slightly brighter, however, beating newly promoted Wolves at the King Power Stadium after a narrow defeat at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season.
The Foxes ran out 4-1 winners on their last trip to Southampton back in December and Claude Puel’s side will be eager to put in a repeat performance, though they will be without the suspended Jamie Vardy.
Last Time Out
Everton 2-1 Southampton
The Saints’ first away trip of the season ended in a 2-1 defeat to Marco Silva’s Everton. The Toffees were ahead inside the opening quarter of an hour as ex-Southampton winger Theo Walcott finished off a well-executed free-kick routine.
Brazilian Richarlison’s brace on the opening weekend at Wolves was an early sign that the reunion with boss Silva was worth his heavy price tag and the former Watford man grabbed his third of the season with his head after tenacious work from Walcott.
Danny Ings made his full league debut for his new club and opened his Southampton account ten minutes after the restart with an instinctive finish from a Mario Lemina flick. The Saints couldn’t find the equaliser, though, as Everton held on to claim all three points.
Leicester City 2-0 Wolves
The Foxes earned their first three points of the season after defeating Premier League newcomers Wolves last Saturday. Puel’s side started on the back foot, and Wolves could have gone ahead on numerous occasions, with the woodwork coming to Kasper Schmeichel’s rescue.
Against the run of play, Wolves defender Matt Doherty powered a header into his own net after a weak defensive flick from Conor Coady to give Leicester the lead.
New signing James Maddison was again impressive, and the ex-Norwich man was on target to grab his first Premier League goal after his strike evaded Rui Patricio. Victory was soured for the Foxes, though, when Vardy was dismissed for a dangerous tackle midway through the second half.
Hughes will toy with the idea of sticking with the partnership of Ings and Charlie Austin as their home fans will expect the side to play more attacking football.
James Ward-Prowse may drop back to the bench to allow for Nathan Redmond to play more centrally in behind the two forwards.
Jannik Vestergaard could be set for a return after an illness which could see the Southampton defence revert to three-at-the-back.
Leicester City Lineup
Puel’s side will begin a short run of games without main man Vardy after his red card against Wolves at the weekend.
Kelechi Iheanacho is the only available replacement for the Foxes and the Nigerian will be a straight swap in the number nine role.
Key Battle: Oriol Romeu vs James Maddison
Before Maddison’s arrival, Leicester were struggling for a creative force in the centre of their midfield. Sitting as a number ten, Maddison’s vision and passing ability has given the Foxes the extra dimension they were lacking.
Since making the jump from the Championship to the top flight, Maddison has shown no signs of being out of his depth, playing with confidence in both of his appearances so far.
With Vardy missing, Leicester will be increasingly reliant on Maddison’s ability to pick apart a Saints defence that has the potential to be difficult to break down at St Mary’s.
Oriol Romeu is often tasked with patrolling his back four and sitting deep in the Southampton midfield alongside Mario Lemina and he will be tasked with keeping a close eye on Maddison on Saturday.
Leicester have lots of pace in wider areas and Romeu must stop Maddison from having the time and space to feed the Foxes’ attacking players.
Is Danny Ings the answer for Southampton?
The middle third of last season was disastrous for the Saints. They conceded goals at will and struggled to put the ball in the net at the other end.
Austin, who missed chunks of the campaign, was their top scorer in the league with only seven strikes and the team was crying out for fresh blood in the number nine role.
Hughes started with both Austin and Ings together in a 4-4-2 system at Goodison Park and the extra body in forward areas appeared to give them a potential edge once they iron the creases out.
Ings, though, had an impressive debut and could have had netted more than once. A point blank save from Jordan Pickford after he spilled a Cedric Soares effort should have perhaps gone in — on a different day, it may have.
His move to the south coast benefits both parties and the ex-Liverpool man could find St Mary’s his home for some time.
Can Leicester manage without Vardy?
Leicester scored 56 Premier League goals last time out, but Vardy contributed over a third of those with 20. The now-departed Riyad Mahrez was next in line on 12, while the injured Shinji Okazaki finished with six.
Iheanacho is the only recognised forward at Puel’s disposal during Vardy’s absence and while the Nigerian found his chances limited last campaign, he only netted three times.
The difference in output between Vardy and the rest of the squad will worry Puel, though Iheanacho will see this as a golden opportunity.
Scoring goals without Vardy being available will undoubtedly be an issue for the Foxes and they may prioritise keeping things tight at the other end until his suspension is served.
Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Leicester City
Southampton will see this as a winnable game, especially with Vardy ruled out. The Saints, though, still haven’t found their attacking rhythm, but Hughes must either continue with the Ings and Austin partnership or change things quickly.
The Foxes will be blunt offensively though Iheanacho will be out to prove his doubters wrong. 1-1.
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