Premier League: Leicester v Southampton

After 17 games, Brendan Rodgers finds his side slap bang in the middle of a title race no one seems to want to run away with, as the Foxes sit four points behind leaders Manchester United. And when United take on Liverpool on Sunday afternoon, a win could see Leicester just a point off top spot come Monday morning.

Perhaps it’s a blessing that no one seems to be talking about Leicester as potential title challengers, just as they didn’t in 2016 when Claudio Ranieri’s side pulled off the ultimate fairy tale by winning the lot.

Fast forward five years and there are still a few players that are still around from that team, with Kasper Schmeichel and Jamie Vardy still as important as ever. The Danish goalkeeper will make his 400th competitive appearance for the club on Saturday.

Speaking of the past, it’s hard to preview this game without mentioning what happened last season when these two sides met, when Leicester ran out 9-0 winners at St Mary’s, with Ayoze Perez and Vardy both scoring hat-tricks.

However, since that landmark moment, Southampton have been a different animal, and a similar score line is almost impossible to expect a repeat of. Ralph Hassenhuttl’s philosophy has been adopted by every member of the Saints squad, and they now look like a solid Premier League side capable of beating anyone on their day.

If they’re to get anything at Leicester on Saturday though, they’ll have to do so without Danny Ings, who is self-isolating after coming into contact with a COVID positive person recently. Jannik Vestergaard is out with a knee injury, while Moussa Djenepo and Nathan Redmond are also definitely missing.

Promising youngster Nathan Tella is also out, as is Michael Obafemi, who has undergone surgery on a muscle issue. There is some good news for the Saints though, as Alex McCarthy is back after missing the win over Liverpool, and Oriol Romeu and Che Adams should also be available.

Leicester have a much shorter injury list by comparison, with only Dennis Praet definitely out with a hamstring injury which requires surgery. The Belgian suffered the problem in the 4-0 win over Stoke City last weekend, a game in which James Maddison and Jamie Vardy weren’t risked with slight knocks.

The pair will be back for the visit of Southampton though, and both Ricardo Pereira and Caglar Soyuncu could also make the matchday squad, although both aren’t fully fit after injury. Soyuncu’s fellow Turk Cengiz Under should also be involved after an ankle problem.

Leicester take on Southampton at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, January 16th. Kick-off is at 8pm.

Premier League: Southampton vs West Ham United

Both clubs are without a win in 3 in the league after promising starts to the league campaign.

Southampton were held to a goalless draw in their boxing day trip to Craven Cottage,

The Saints will also be hoping to end their goal drought after 268 minutes without one.

West Ham come into the fixture with only one day of rest, drawing 2-2 to Brighton only on Sunday.

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has admitted he’s finding it hard to strike an appropriate balance between training and rest over the festive period.

Despite lack of rest, however, the Hammers will be desperate to produce an upturn in form, winning just one in their last five after a terrific start to the season.

David Moyes’ side were delivered a major boost however, as Hasenhuttl admitted Southampton could be without three key players.

Danny Ings picked up a hamstring injury in the 1-0 loss to Manchester City and is taking longer than expected to return to full fitness.

Nathan Redmond missed their game against Fulham with muscular problems and is no looking likely to miss tomorrows fixture and Jannik Vestergaard will also miss the clash.

The game takes place at 18:00 pm at St Mary’s on Tuesday 29th December

Premier League Preview: Fulham v Southampton

Things seem to be slowly looking up for Scott Parker in recent weeks with three successive draws heading into this one.

Parker also seems to be finally nailing down his best starting XI but he will have a few enforced changes to make for this one.

Joachim Andersen serves a one-game ban with Dennis Odoi set to slot in for him at the back.

But injuries to Tom Cairney and Ivan Cavaleiro present a bigger problem for Parker with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Bobby Reid the most likely replacements.

Southampton’s own form has dipped a bit in December with a draw at Arsenal and defeat to Manchester City.

And Ralph Hasenhuttl’s concerns will be deepened further by the absences of Oriol Romeu and Danny Ings for the trip to the capital.

Romeu has hit his five bookings limit for the campaign with Ings out for a month with a hamstring strain.

The Austrian does have options to shake things up at the Cottage, with Stuart Armstrong, Shane Long and Nathan Redmond amongst the possible returning faces.

Kick Off in this one is 3pm on Boxing Day at Craven Cottage

Premier League: Arsenal vs Southampton

The Gunners have usually been in excellent form in midweek games this season, winning all six of their Europa League fixtures, but woeful against Premier League opposition, losing four of their last five league games as pressure mounts on Arteta.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored more goals against Arsenal at the Emirates than for them so far this season, but will continue to be relied upon as Southampton visit the capital.

Granit Xhaka will be suspended after ridiculously getting sent off against Burnley on Sunday for grabbing Ashley Westwood around the neck. Whether or not that improves the Gunners’ chances of a result remains to be seen.

Arteta will definitely be without Thomas Partey with a thigh injury, while Nicolas Pepe is also suspended. Reiss Nelson has a chance of returning after a head injury, but Sead Kolasinac is unlikely to make the squad.

David Luiz will be assessed after missing the 1-0 defeat to Burnley with the after effects of a concussion injury sustained in that horrific clash with Raul Jimenez, while the game will come too soon for Gabriel Martinelli, who has stepped up his recovery from an ACL injury in the past week.

As for Southampton, Ralph Hassenhuttl has a fully fit squad to choose from, which seems entirely in keeping with everything going well at St Mary’s at the minute.

Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond are both available after injuries recently, and the pair combined for Saints’ third goal against Sheffield United at the weekend.

A win for Hassenhuttl could send Southampton top of the table for the second time this season, albeit for a maximum of two hours as Liverpool and Spurs play at Anfield ten minutes after the full-time whistle goes at the Emirates.

Arsenal need a win to affect things at the other end of the table, as they bid to pull themselves away from a relegation battle that is starting to tighten up.

Defeat coupled with a win for Brighton could send the Gunners as low as 16th, while a much-needed win could see them leapfrog Leeds United into 14th and stop the rot.

Arsenal take on Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, December 16th. Kick-off is at 6pm

Sheffield United’s misery deepens with 3-0 defeat at Southampton

Pressure on the Blades boss will continue to intensify in the days ahead as goals from Che Adams, Stuart Armstrong and Nathan Redmond sealed three points for the Saints.

Both teams struggled to settle into an early rhythm on a rainy south coast as Jan Bedranek powered a header wide and Sander Berge’s scuffed effort failed to test Alex McCarthy.

But with a scrappy theme beginning to develop before the break the Saints did edge in front through Adams.

James Ward-Prowse’s free kick was headed back into the box and Adams was more determined than John Egan as he bundled past Aaron Ramsdale.

Not being able to keep Southampton out before the break dented United confidence after the restart as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team went through gears.

Armstrong extended their lead on the hour as his deflected strike trickled past Ramsdale.

That left the Blades chasing shadows in the closing stages as Redmond tucked home a deserved third with five minutes left.

He linked up cleverly with Oriol Romeu on the edge of the box and with no Blades defender tracking his run he confidently slotted past Ramsdale.

Full Time at the St. Mary’s Stadium it’s Southampton 3 Sheffield United 0

Premier League Preview: Brighton v Southampton

The Saints have struggled following the return of football after the international break, but they will still be confident of a positive result in this one.

Despite their dip in form, Ralph Hasenhuttl is not expected to make too many alterations, with Shane Long the only potential change after Moussa Djenepo failed to shake off an injury.

Star man Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond have both returned to light training this week but Hasenhuttl has already confirmed neither will be included in the squad.

Brighton boss Graham Potter will recall Tariq Lamptey to the starting line-up, following a one game ban, with Joel Veltman set to drop to the bench.

Potter also confirmed Alexis MacAllister and Neil Maupay are both fit to face the Saints but Adam Lallana, Davy Propper and Florian Andone are all still sidelined.

Brighton take on Southampton at the Amex at 8pm on Monday, December 7th.

Premier League: Southampton vs Manchester United

Saints are unbeaten in their last six, winning four of those games, and are fifth in the table going into the weekend, as whispers of a finish in the European places begin to grow on the South coast.

Ralph Hassenhuttl will be hoping his side can continue to manage without top scorer Danny Ings, with Theo Walcott netting his first goal for Southampton in almost 15 years against Wolves last week in his absence.

Walcott is set to continue his partnership with Che Adams when United come to town, as Southampton have no new injury worries from that game at Molineux.

Will Smallbone may come back into contention after missing the draw with a hamstring problem, but Nathan Redmond won’t make it due to a hamstring injury. Defender Mohamed Salisu is back training with the team but not expected to be part of the squad.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be without Paul Pogba, who is struggling with a swollen ankle. The injury kept him out of the win over Istanbul Basaksehir in the week and he is rated at 50/50 for the visit to St Mary’s. Donny Van De Beek should continue in midfield alongside Bruno Fernandes.

Jesse Lingard continues to self-isolate after coming into contact with a COVID positive person, while defensive trio Phil Jones, Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly are both longer-term absentees.

Solskjaer is hoping Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka shake off back and ankle injuries in time for selection, after both were withdrawn early the Champions League win on Tuesday night.

A fourth straight win would further ease the pressure on the Norwegian manager, after rumours of his sacking intensified earlier this month, and move his side closer to the pack chasing Liverpool and Tottenham at the top of the league.

Southampton could leapfrog Chelsea with a win ahead of their game with Spurs later on Sunday afternoon, and continue their dream start into the congested Christmas period.

Southampton take on Manchester United on Sunday, November 29th. Kick-off is at 2pm.