Leeds will be hoping to continue their pre-international break form when they return to Premier League action against Southampton at Elland Road on Saturday.

Leeds United ended a terrible run of five straight Premier League defeats with much-needed back-to-back victories over Norwich City and Wolves to build a seven-point buffer over the relegation zone ahead of a relatively tricky stretch of final eight games.

The Whites showed incredible spirit to complete a comeback and earn all three points against Wolves after being 2-0 down at one point, although Raul Jimenez’s red card turned the tide in their favour.

That said, there is still work to do for Jesse Marsch’s men if they are to secure a third successive season of top-flight football. They would be desperate to keep the positive momentum going in order to pull themselves further clear of danger when they welcome Southampton to Elland Road on Saturday afternoon.

Southampton, meanwhile, head into this fixture in the 11th spot in the league and are in a bit of a slump after losing three straight games in the Premier League, putting the brakes on their push for an unlikely top-seven finish. After suffering defeats at the hands of Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Watford in the league, the Saints were brushed aside 4-1 by Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Ralph Hasenhuttl is struggling to get his players back on track, having already guaranteed top-flight survival ahead of the final eight games of the season. They have also struggled to keep the back doors shut and are shipping in far too many goals. But they may draw confidence from their resilient display in the reverse fixture earlier this season when Armando Broja’s strike saw the Saints win 1-0 over Leeds at St Mary’s.

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Leeds United

Whites boss Jesse Marsch was forced into making four enforced changes in the win over Leeds due to injuries, with Patrick Bamford, Diego Llorente (back), Mateusz Klich (concussion) and Illan Meslier (thigh) all leaving the field injured. And while the latter three are all expected to be available, the same can not be said about talismanic striker Bamford, who could now be ruled out for the rest of the season.

He is not the only absentee either for Leeds. Leo Hjelde, Junior Firpo, Jamie Shackleton and Tyler Roberts are all expected to miss the game. Otherwise, manager Jesse Marsch has been boosted by the availability of Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper. They are both in contention to start, while star winger Raphinha has recovered from Covid-19 as well.

Marsch could set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Illan Meslier expected to recover from a thigh issue in time to take his place in between the sticks. Despite the availability of skipper Cooper, Marsch may stick with the centre-back partnership of Llorente and Pascal Struijk, who will be flanked by the full-back duo of Stuart Dallas and Luke Ayling.

Mateusz Klich has been declared fit after suffering a concussion and is available. But he could be benched in favour of Phillips, who will hold the fort in the middle of the park alongside Adam Forshaw. Jack Harrison and Raphinha will line up on the flanks, with the latter being the chief creative outlet for the side. Rodrigo, meanwhile, will sit just in-behind Daniel James, who will be operating in the false nine role.

Leeds United (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Ayling, Llorente, Struijk, Dallas; Phillips, Forshaw; Raphinha, Rodrigo, Harrison; James

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Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has confirmed in his pre-match presser that Will Smallbone, Oriol Romeu and Nathan Tella will all be back in time to feature on Saturday. First-choice goalkeeper Alex McCarthy is back in light training but remains unavailable here and the same goes for defender Lyanco.

Hasenhuttl looks set to start off with his preferred 4-4-2 formation, with Fraser Forster continuing to hold his spot in goal for now. In defence, Jan Bednarek and Mohamed Salisu should form the centre-back partnership as they look to keep things tight at the back.

Tino Livramento, who has impressed heavily in his breakout season, should return at right-back after being left out for the cup tie. Kyle Walker-Peters, who made his England bow in midweek, should retain his spot in the side at left-back ahead of Romain Perraud. Both the full-backs will have the license to push forward and add width to Saints attacks.

The solid midfield pairing of Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse is a certainty in the second line of press for Southampton as they look to control the proceedings from the middle of the park. The latter will also pose a significant threat from his set-piece deliveries. In wider areas, Stuart Armstrong and Mohamed Elyounoussi should feature from kickoff against the Whites.

Armando Broja and Che Adams were both rested for the FA Cup defeat to Man City, but they should reunite upfront against Leeds United after Shane Long and Adam Armstrong were handed a rare chance to impress in the final third before the international break.

Southampton (4-4-2): Forster; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters; Elyounoussi, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, S. Armstrong; Broja, Adams


Key Stats

  • Leeds United have lost only one of their last 13 home games against Southampton (W7 D5).
  • Southampton are looking to complete a double over Leeds United for the first time in Premier League history.
  • Southampton boast a poor record of seven losses in 14 away games. It is no surprise given their defensive vulnerabilities, having conceded the third-most away goals in the Premier League.
  • Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have conceded at least twice in each of the last four matches in all competition, losing all of them.
  • A record of 67 goals conceded means Leeds rank as the worst defensive side in the league by country miles, while they have failed to keep a clean sheet at Elland Road since November.

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Brazilian international Raphinha has been heavily linked with Barcelona in recent days. Manager Jesse Marsch has recently admitted to the possibility of a summer departure and revealed the winger is fully focused on saving Leeds from their current predicament.

The 25-year-old attacker has been one of Leeds United’s most impressive performers since the American head coach’s arrival and has scored in each of his last two Premier League appearances. His flair, trickery and ability to create something out of nothing could be vital for the Whites to secure another crucial result here against Southampton.


Leeds United 2-2 Southampton

The two-week international break may be precisely what Southampton needed to recover from their dreadful run but it might have come at a terrible time for their hosts. Jesse Marsch will be desperate to maintain Leeds’ pre-break momentum in this game. They have yet to discover the perfect defensive formula, but the return of Kalvin Phillips in midfield could be a massive help.

Southampton’s away record has been poor this season, with only four Premier League teams picking up fewer points on their travels. Despite this, the Hard Tackle predicts Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side to produce a strong response. And with Leeds’ confidence sky-high after Wolves’ victory last time out, an exciting battle could be on the cards with a high-scoring draw the most likely outcome.

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