Match Preview – Southampton vs Leicester City

There are some places around the country where Leicester fans, jaded by the experience of many fruitless away trips, never expect a win. The City Ground is a well highlighted recent example of this phenomenon, Upton Park another. But Leicester’s failure to win matches at Southampton tops them both.

Leicester have won just twice at the home of the Saints in 34 league matches. Should City win a league match at Southampton for only the third time, t-shirts commemorating the fans who head to Saint Mary’s on a cold Monday evening (when many others opt to watch the game from the comfort of their armchair) would not be out of place.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves though, it is worth remembering just how much the class of 2012 will have to do to join the victorious ranks of 1967 and 2000.

Southampton have been deadly at home this season, winning eleven league matches at St Mary’s and scoring no fewer than 30 goals in the process. At the back only Birmingham have conceded fewer at home in the Championship than Nigel Adkins side this season.

However, recently chinks in what had previously appeared to be invulnerable armour have emerged. In their last home match, the Saints were beaten by lowly Bristol City. Shock defeats at Doncaster and Brighton have contributed to a run on just three wins and four defeats in nine. It is a sequence of results which has suddenly made the automatic promotion race a lot more interesting for many clubs.

Of course, during this time, Leicester capitalised on Southampton’s slump by winning just twice in the same period, making automatic promotion about as likely a sensible discussion on the merits of Ritchie Wellens on an Internet forum.

So Leicester (who started the season as 4/1 hot shots for the title) now begin a sequence of fixtures against the Saints, Middlesbrough, Brighton and Cardiff which could leave even their playoff hopes in tatters. If City’s performance is more Barnsley than Forest, this could be ugly.

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One Response to Match Preview – Southampton vs Leicester City

  1. Adam says:

    Tonight is pretty important and will probably define the rest of the season. Both how the players perform and the side Pearson picks and how he reacts during the match could either rescue the promotion push or kill it off before February. If we play like we did against Forest, and if Pearson actually sets out to counter Southampton’s strengths we can get a result here. If we play like we did against Barnsley we could get hammered.

    I think Pearson may start with the 3-5-2 from the Crystal Palace game. The 3 in midfield should help to counter act Southampton’s obvious strengths there and an extra central defender may be useful in allowing him to step out of defence and follow David Connolly around. This will leave their fullbacks one on one with our wing backs but it should ensure they don’t get the chance to overload them and our midfielders can move out of the center to help if their wider players in the diamond do try this.

    If he starts the 4-4-2 from Forest then it will need Gallagher and Dyer to be on top form defensively. They will actually have to cover their fullbacks, Gallagher in particular. Peltier can become very issolated when we play 4-4-2, see the Barnsley match and Southampton have enough clever players to realise this and overload him, they did this very effectively in the match at the King Power earlier in the season. Fortunately Lallana seems to be injuried but its still a risk. Secondly if Gallagher has to stay wider for the match it will need one of the front two, Nugent probably, to drop fairly deep and help in midfield, marking Schneiderlin when they have the ball and providing an extra man when we have it. If Beckford and Nugent remain high up the pitchas a traditional forward pair we will end up outnumbered in central midfield and Southampton have the players to exploit this, unlike Forest on Tuesday. This may be a game where we need to rely on more direct football and the pace of Dyer and Beckford.

    It will be interesting to see what Pearson does tactically and also whether he hands a start to Drinkwater, whos been training for less than a week, against a team with a very strong and incredibly cohesive midfield. Also this would have been the sort of game where Abe’s tidy football, stamina and ability to shield the defence would have been very useful. If Pearson wanted to keep him but he really was that homesick then fine, but if he left because Pearson couldn’t see how useful he was for the team then its a tad worrying.

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