With the final international break having come and gone, Premier League leaders Leicester City now enter the home stretch with a tricky game at home to Southampton, who themselves are after a third straight win.
There is still no sign of any nerves from Leicester despite the fact they needed to hold on during the closing stages of their last outing at Crystal Palace, with the sense of freedom that manager Claudio Ranieri has instilled into the squad reaping the rewards yet again. Riyad Mahrez added more weight to his claim for the Player of the Year award by scoring the winner, but in this most united of team efforts, the man currently thriving the most is Daniel Drinkwater.
Handed his England debut on Tuesday, the former Manchester United youngster has shown an incredible level of work rate and more improtantly, quality in possession. His winning midfield combination with the equally magnificent N’Golo Kante only appears to be getting better, and is more than contributing to the impressive defensive record the Foxes have achieved in the second half of the season, a factor which has made them an even more difficult side to beat.
But Southampton will not be shaken off easily as they come into this one in a state of utmost buoyancy following their thrilling comeback win over Liverpool. An ill-disciplined first half could have cost them more than just the two goals as they were picked off on the counter attack time and again, but manager Ronald Koeman proved his tactical nous by bringing on Victor Wanyama to add bite and stability to the midfield, cutting off their opponents’ route to goal.
The other change Koeman made was to bring on Sadio Mane, a player who has found his second season in English football tough going on occasion and has cut a frustrated figure. But the manner in which he responded to failing from the penalty spot against Liverpool to end up scoring a match-winning brace showed immense strength and determination, and it may mark the beginning of a renaissance for a player of such supreme skill. The Mali international will be the biggest threat to Leicester here, if he is in the mood again.
Jeffrey Schlupp is a doubt for Leicester after suffering a knee injury while on international duty, but Kasper Schmeichel should be fit despite a minor muscle problem.
Ryan Bertrand should make the Southampton team after recovering from the injury that forced him off against Liverpool, leaving Shane Long as their only injury concern.
Last Meeting: Riyad Mahrez gave a sign of things to come for the following campaign by scoring a brace to beat an off-colour Southampton in May 2015 and all-but secure Premier League safety. The Algerian got the business done early on with both goals coming in the first 20 minutes, firing past Fraser Forster to open the scoring, before turning in a cut-back from Jamie Vardy.
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