Southampton and Leeds United, the two sides who will lock horns at the Elland Road in the upcoming game of the Premier League, are separated by six points and five places in the points table, which makes one a prime relegation candidate and the other a mid-table team. However, the complexion of the standings can change significantly depending on the outcome of this fixture, which makes it a must-win for both teams.
Southampton are the better-placed among the duo. They have accumulated 35 points from 19 fixtures and are occupying the eleventh place in the table, but things are not as safe and secure as they seem to be, for the Saints have been appalling in their recent fixtures.
Leeds United, on the contrary, are struggling in the 16th place – just a couple of places ahead of the dreaded relegation zone, with 29 points in their account from 30 fixtures. However, they have done well in recent weeks and will be fairly confident coming into this game.
Let us have a look at the in-depth analysis of what to expect from this fixture.
LEEDS UNITED IN PREMIER LEAGUE SO FAR THIS SEASON
Leeds United had a horrible start to their 2021-22 Premier League campaign, as they accumulated only three points from their fixtures. Two wins in their next four fixtures got their derailed campaign back on track, but consistency has always been a major issue with the Whites.
Leeds won only one of their next five matches, which was followed by an even more horrifying run of three consecutive defeats. The erstwhile Marcelo Bielsa’s team did bounce back with consecutive defeats against Burnley and West Ham United, but what followed the twin victories made the side one of the prime candidates for relegation, and also got Bielsa the axe.
Under the Argentine’s stewardship, Leeds United picked up only a solitary point from their next six games – losing five matches in the process. The arrival of Jesse Marsch did not bring instantaneous success either, as the American started their managerial career in the Premier League with back-to-back defeats against Leicester City and Aston Villa. However, a couple of victories against Norwich City and Wolverhampton Wanderers have not only helped the team climb up in the points table, but also injected the squad with some much-needed confidence.
PREDICTED LINEUP AND TACTICS AGAINST SOUTHAMPTON
Jesse Marsch will find himself in a spot of bother whilst selecting his starting XI for this game, since five key players are likely to be unavailable. Defenders Leo Hjelde and Junior Firpo are both nursing knee injuries, which are expected to keep them out.
Besides that, Jamie Shackleton is also regaining match sharpness and this game could come a bit too soon for him, while attackers Tyler Roberts and Patrick Bamford are out with thigh and ankle problems respectively.
The American tactician is expected to field his team in a 4-2-3-1 setup, with Illan Meslier guarding the goal and Luke Ayling, Diego Llorente, Pascal Struijk and Stuart Dallas forming the four-man backline.
Mateusz Klich and Adam Forshaw are likely to form the double pivot, with Raphinha, Daniel James and Jack Harrison positioned ahead of the duo. Given that Bamford will not be available for this game, Rodrigo Moreno is likely to be the lone player upfront for the Peacocks.
Probable Playing XI (4-2-3-1): Illan Meslier; Luke Ayling, Diego Llorente, Pascal Struijk, Stuart Dallas; Mateusz Klich, Adam Forshaw; Raphinha, Daniel James, Jack Harrison; Rodrigo Moreno.
SOUTHAMPTON IN PREMIER LEAGUE SO FAR THIS SEASON
Like their opposition, Southampton too had a horrendous start to their 2021-22 Premier League campaign, only that their start was even worse. The Saints were without a victory in their first seven matches.
However, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s boys bounced back in spectacular fashion by accumulating ten points from their next four matches. The Saints have lacked consistency as well, since that impressive run was followed by six winless games.
Southampton made a comeback once again, by losing only one of their next nine encounters. That being said, they will be terribly down in morale coming into this game having suffered three consecutive defeats, with the last two losses coming against teams placed in the bottom seven – Newcastle United and Watford.
PREDICTED LINEUPS AND TACTICS AGAINST LEEDS UNITED
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is in a much better situation as compared to his Leeds United counterpart, as only a couple of Saints players will not be available for this crucial clash.
Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy is yet to recover from the thigh injury he sustained in training last month, while centre-back Lyanco is out for a significant period of time, having suffered a thigh problem as well.
As is the case often with Hasenhuttl, we can expect the Saints to line up in a 4-2-2-2 formation. Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek, Mohammed Salisu and Romain Perraud are expected to comprise the backline, with Fraser Forster deputizing in goal in McCarthy’s absence.
James Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu will form what is a very hard-working double pivot, while Stuart Armstrong and Mohamed Elyounoussi are likely to play the role of a number ten. The Saints’ starting XI is likely to feature a young strike pairing of Che Adams and Armando Broja.
Probable Playing XI (4-2-2-2): Fraser Forster; Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek, Mohammed Salisu, Romain Perraud; James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu; Stuart Armstrong, Mohamed Elyounoussi; Che Adams, Armando Broja.
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