Southampton and Leeds United will aim to create breathing space between them and the relegation zone in an intriguing lower table clash at St. Mary’s.
With the international break finally coming to an end, both Southampton and Leeds United will aim to put their poor start to the Premier League behind them when they meet at St Mary’s on Saturday night.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side is currently in the 17th spot having picked up just four points from their first seven games. The Saints will hope to pick up their first win of the season in front of their home crowd.
Leeds meanwhile have fared slightly better having won one of their first seven games. They are just one position above Southampton. Marcelo Bielsa’s side is miles away from their ninth-placed finish last season. Unless something is done fast, they could very well follow in the footsteps of Sheffield United, who were relegated after enjoying an excellent campaign upon their return to the top-flight.
Both teams will also have to take to the field without their key players. Southampton will be without James Ward-Prowse who was sent off against Chelsea last time around. Meanwhile, Leeds will be without Raphinha who is currently away with the Brazilian squad in South America.
Leeds got the better of their opponents in the corresponding fixture last season. Patrick Bamford and Tyler Roberts were the goalscorers on that night. It promises to be an open game where three points could prove to be a turnaround for either side.
Team News & Tactics
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) October 15, 2021
Southampton will take to the field at the weekend sans a number of their best players. The biggest absentee of the lot is James Ward-Prowse who was sent off in the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Striker Che Adams is also ruled out after picking up an injury while on international duty with Scotland. Jack Stephens is another player who will also miss out for Hasenhuttl’s side.
Hasenhuttl looks set to start off with a traditional 4-4-2 formation with Alex McCarthy in goal. He will be protected by the back four of Kyle Walker-Peters, Mohammed Salisu, Jan Bednarek and Valentino Livramento.
Young Livramento has taken well to life at St Mary’s and continues to see his reputation soar. He could once again be set for a key role on the night. Just how well he can form a partnership with veteran Theo Walcott on the right flank could prove pivotal while Mohamed Elyounoussi is expected to start on the left flank in place of Nathan Tella.
Ward-Prowse’s absence could open the door for Ibrahima Diallo to show off his abilities. It will be intriguing to see how he gets along with Oriol Romeu in the middle of the park. The duo will have to be at their best to combat Leeds all-action high energy midfield.
With Adams out, Hasenhuttl is expected to go with Nathan Redmond and Adam Armstrong upfront. With Ward-Prowse absent, both players will need to step up and made do in the absence of the usual creative service from midfield.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Salisu, Bednarek, Livramento; Elyounoussi, Diallo, Romeu, Walcott; Armstrong, Redmond
While Hasenhuttl grapples with his selection issues, Bielsa has concerns of his own. The Argentine manager is set to deploy his side in a 4-1-4-1 formation that could ask much out of Kalvin Phillips in midfield.
Flying winger Raphinha continues to impress for Brazil but is unavailable for the game. The Yorkshire outfit will also have to do without Robin Koch and Luke Ayling who remain sidelined. To add to their concerns Kalvin Phillips is doubtful while Patrick Bamford has also been ruled out.
While Phillips could feature if declared fit, it remains to be seen if he will be risked given regardless given the enormity of the need for results.
🎙️ "Patrick won't play [against Southampton], but Kalvin has chances of being able to do so." pic.twitter.com/NznIXcoXFd
— Leeds United (@LUFC) October 14, 2021
The impressive Illan Meslier is an automatic choice in goal and will be protected by the back four of Junior Firpo, Liam Cooper, Diego Llorente and Jamie Shackleton. Phillips will be afforded the primary role in midfield should he be deemed fit. Just how well he performs against Romeu and Diallo could set the stage for the night.
Jack Harrison and Daniel James will meanwhile be entrusted with the flanks. In Raphinha’s absence, this could very well prove to be James’s chance to impress.
Mateusz Klich and Stuart Dallas will be called upon to push upfront from midfield when needed. Spanish striker Rodrigo could be entrusted with the centre forward position in Bamford’s absence.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Firpo, Cooper, Llorente, Shackleton; Phillips; Harrison, Klich, Dallas, James; Rodrigo
- Leeds United and Southampton have won five matches each in their last ten games. Leeds however have the momentum having won their last three meetings.
- Both sides have failed to draw their last 25 games.
- Despite struggling, Leeds have scored at least once in all their Premier League outings so far this season. However, they do have the second-worst defence in the league.
- Only five sides have scored fewer goals than Leeds United this season, one of them being Southampton.
Player to Watch
The youngster is enjoying an excellent start to life at St Mary’s and is already a regular for Hasenhuttl’s side. The decision to leave Chelsea has proven to be an excellent choice so far.
He stood out as one of the Saints’ best performers at Stamford Bridge and also won the penalty on the night. How well he handles Harrison on the flank and also links up with Walcott could make the difference.
With Ward-Prowse absent, someone will need to step up and provide service to the Saints frontline. Livramento is as good a choice as any.
Southampton 1-2 Leeds United
While both sides will be missing some of their best players, Leeds are better organized and have more match-winners in their ranks in comparison. Having won their first game of the season, they have the momentum to go on and secure three more points.
While the Saints will bank on their home crown for support, Bielsa’s side are more likely to see the game out on the night.