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.

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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

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

Impressive Southampton secure 2-0 Premier League win at home to Newcastle

The Saints have been in excellent form in recent weeks, and despite the absence of star man Danny Ings, a goal in either half from Che Adams and Stuart Armstrong secured another three points.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side were quick out of the blocks in this one as Adams edged them in front on seven minutes.

Miguel Almiron gave away possession on the edge of the box, and Theo Walcott’s neat cut back was fired home by Adams.

The impressive Walcott looked to be on a mission from there as Moussa Djenpo’s flick sent him through, but his effort curled just wide.

The home side continued to push and push Newcastle after the break, as Oriol Romeu’s powerful effort clipped the bar and Jan Bedranek forced a fine stop from Karl Darlow.

With the Magpies unable to muster up a response, Southampton grabbed a deserved second with nine minutes to go.

Again, Newcastle played themselves in trouble as Sean Longstaff gave away the ball in a key area and Scottish international Armstrong tiptoed past Jamal Lasacelles and tucked home.

Newcastle did almost steal a late consolation, but the redundant Alex McCarthy produced a brilliant save from Joelinton.

Full Time at the St. Mary’s Stadium it’s Southampton 2 Newcastle 0

Southampton secure 2-0 Premier League home win over West Brom

The Saints never really got out of second gear against the Baggies as a goal in each half from Moussa Djenepo and Oriol Romeu secured all three points.

The home side were the brighter of the two teams in the opening stages, with Che Adams and Kyle Walker-Peters both testing Sam Johnstone.

The former Manchester United keeper continued to keep the Baggies in the game, as he produced an instinctive stop from Danny Ings.

But with Johnstone forming a one-man barrier to the hosts, it was only a matter of time before they broke through, as Djenepo confidently tucked home just before the break.

Slaven Bilic’s side carved out some half chances after the restart, but with the visitors keeping them at arm’s length, Romeu secured the win late on.

Stuart Armstrong’s cross wasn’t cut out by the Baggies defence and the Spaniard swept home his first goal since 2019.

FULL TIME AT THE ST.MARY’S STADIUM IT’S SOUTHAMPTON 2 WEST BROM 0