Leicester City will be aiming for a second consecutive win as they face Southampton on Saturday.
The 2-0 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers has instilled a lot of confidence into Claude Puel’s already ebullient side; however, the absence of Jamie Vardy – who was sent off last week – is likely to have some bearing on the team’s spirit and performance alike.
To what extent will Leicester rue their main man’s red card, though, will also depend on what Southampton can manage to come up with – something that most of us are still in the dark about.
Foxes of Leicester therefore turned to Bleacher Report’s Sam Tighe, a true cognoscente of the footballing world, to get an insight.
Just two games into the season, there are suggestions that free-falling may once again be a prominent feature of Southampton’s campaign. Have the fans read too much into the team’s disappointing start, or is there a genuine cause for concern?
“I can understand the concerns. Most people have picked Cardiff + Huddersfield to go down, but that third spot is wide open.
“Of the teams generally considered to be in that conversation, Watford already have six points and Crystal Palace have shown themselves to be pretty firm.
“Therefore, Southampton’s solitary point and opening scoreless draw (something St. Mary’s has seen too much of over the last two years) becomes a point of worry immediately.”
What you do – or what you don’t – over the summer (transfers) can define your season in more ways than one. How do you see it defining Southampton’s endeavours this season?
“Southampton had an understated but strong summer. It’s understated because the large majority of people haven’t really seen much of the new recruits.
“Jannik Vestergaard was exactly what they needed—a tall, leading central defender to take control at the back. He was great against Burnley, then sorely missed at Goodison (illness).
“Mohamed Elyounoussi is a good player who is being introduced slowly, while Danny Ings is the attacking spark they really needed.
“Add it all together, you’ve strengthened in 3 crucial positions and lost no one. It’s not ground-breaking work, but from a planning perspective it feels like enough.”
A 0-0 draw against Burnley followed by a 2-1 defeat to Everton. Two very good teams, but Southampton could have done better, surely?
“The two results so far are explainable and more or less acceptable. The first game is always a battle for sharpness and they faced a side who already had 3 competitive games under their belts, then losing 2-1 away to this Everton side—with close to £150m worth of firepower starting in the attacking ranks—is hardly a disgrace.
“Yes, you want to kick off with a win or at least grab one in the opening two, but it’s no disaster.”
Claude Puel’s Leicester City next. The Foxes smell blood after blagging a 2-0 win against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Do Southampton possess any discernible strengths that their guests should be wary of?
“Leicester might smell blood, but Southampton should too. After all, it’s not very often you get to play the Foxes sans Jamie Vardy. This is a real opportunity.
“Ings has been brilliant so far, excelling in his 30 minutes against Burnley and playing the part of creative spark, then netting and hitting the bar against Everton. Whereas Charlie Austin does look a yard short, Ings doesn’t.
“It’s difficult to predict how Saints line up, so that makes it hard to pinpoint threats (outside of Ings) as the personnel is up in the air. Stuart Armstrong was a positive against Burnley, working the flanks and working hard, while Saints always seem to create their most dangerous chances when Ryan Bertrand overlaps and hits the byline on the left.”
What major cracks can Leicester City look to further open up when they visit the St. Mary’s Stadium?
“In both games they’ve started extremely slowly and sloppily. Against Burnley Alex McCarthy bailed them out with a string of excellent saves, but against Everton that sloppiness was punished.
“For some reason, they need 30 minutes (or to go a goal down) to get going. They heap pressure on themselves by struggling to win second balls in midfield, meaning they go long periods without establishing controlling patterns themselves.
“Idrissa Gueye mopped up in midfield at Goodison, besting Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina in the 50/50 duels. It’s easy to foresee Wilfred Ndidi doing the same, helping Leicester establish a rhythm at Saints’ expense.”