Southampton will be looking to continue their rise up the Premier League with a win at home to Leicester City on Saturday, which would see them leapfrog their opponents in the table.
Ronald Koeman’s side seem to have rediscovered their best form of last season, and will hope that the international break has not disrupted their momentum. A comprehensive win over Swansea City was followed by a superlative display at the home of the champions, exposing Chelsea’s recent frailties in the most ruthless style after going behind to an early free-kick. Once they drew level, there was only team that was going to win that encounter at Stamford Bridge.
The whole team was excellent on the day – including Steven Davis, who is back among the goals – but two Saints shone above all others – Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle. The tricky Mane was a constant threat and his pace caused devastation in the Chelsea defence, while Pelle continued his fine start to this season by providing an immense physical presence and an assist, as well as the deadly finish which put the match beyond doubt. Koeman will now be calling on his side to play like that all the time.
Hours before Southampton wiped the floor with the West Londoners, Leicester notched up an impressive away win of their own, picking up all three points at Norwich City. Many questioned how they would respond to seeing their unbeaten run come to an end at Arsenal the previous week, but they came up with the necessary answers as Claudio Ranieri’s bold decision to leave outstanding performer Riyad Mahrez out of the starting XI paid off.
While he is yet to get off the mark at international level, Jamie Vardy reaffirmed his status as the Premier League’s leading scorer with a penalty to open the scoring in East Anglia, and his relentless energy will keep the hosts’ back four occupied throughout here. The midfield battle will also be key, with N’Golo Kante – who has made a strong start to life in English football – aiming to prove he is more than a match for Victor Wanyama.
Jordy Clasie has recovered from injury and could make his Premier League debut for Southampton, but they will be without Shane Long, who was struck down by ankle ligament damage while on international duty.
Leicester may go unchanged from the side that won so impressively at Norwich, but they do have Nathan Dyer back after three weeks out.
Last Meeting: Southampton were riding high in second when they met in November 2014, while Leicester were languishing in the bottom three, and it went to form as the home side ran out 2-0 winners. However, it took 75 minutes for the deadlock to be broken, with Shane Long guiding home a low shot, and the Irishman doubled his tally for the afternoon shortly after, making no mistake after being put through by Victor Wanyama.
Played for both – Tim Flowers: The first season of the Premier League, in which the England goalkeeper made 14 appearances, was his final year at Southampton after a lengthy spell at the club. Following a hugely successful period with Blackburn Rovers, he moved to Leicester in the summer of 1999 and went on to make 55 league outings before the club was relegated in 2002.
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