Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Leicester City

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• The last three Premier League encounters between these sides have ended in draws.

• Leicester have only earned one point in five matches since they beat Manchester United 5-3.

• Southampton’s total of 22 points from the first 10 matches is the club’s best start in top-flight history. (BBC Sport)

St. Mary’s Park will welcome back their red-hot home squad, Southampton, as the Saints clash with Leicester City in a compelling Premier League match on Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, available to watch online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Southampton has glided along with a wonder season, slotted at second place in the Premier League in front of reigning champions Manchester City and Arsenal, among other previously top-ranked teams. Although Ronald Koeman’s players haven’t had to brave the trickiest of schedules, an 8-0 drubbing over Sunderland have showed the Saint’s statistical capabilities similar to a first class PL squad.

However, it hasn’t been the Saints’ attack that’s helped them out so much, as the defense has allowed the fewest goals in the league (5), which is five better than first-place Chelsea and the Sky Blues in third.

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The Foxes, on the other hand, were riding high following their 5-3 victory over Manchester United on Sep. 21. Leicester had drawn Arsenal and Everton up to this point, but fell on a five-game unbeaten run, four of the contests resulting in losses. Shaky defense and lack of effective attacking play in many instances have plummeted them to the bottom of the table (18th place).

What they’re saying:

Leicester midfielder Matty James on form after victory over United (BBC Sport): ”We don’t look out of place. We have been a little unlucky at times but we have to create our own luck. In certain games we have managed the games wrong but we are learning from it. The expectations might have been raised because of the start we had and the result we had against Manchester United. But the key thing for the players and staff is to survive.”

Southampton boss Richard Koeman on club’s elevated play (SaintsFC.co.uk): “We have to maybe live a little bit different than the beginning of the season when everybody was a little bit afraid how the team was doing. Now the expectation is higher and they maybe expect the three points this Saturday, but the players know the Premier League is not an easy one. Every game you have to work hard for a good result.”

Injuries/match absences

Beside the torn ACL to Jay Rodriguez, James Ward-Prowse’s fractured foot and Sam Gallagher’s knee problem, Southampton doesn’t have any more injury news.

Sadio Mane saw time off the bench against Hull City, which means that Shane Long could be on the sideline for the duration of this match, and defender Matthew Upson, necessitating ankle surgery in August, is back to training, and his status for the game is uncertain. And most importantly, Leonardo Ulloa, likely Leicester’s best attacker this year, suffered a groin injury last week, but should be ready to start nonetheless.

Prediction

Southampton has to keep their spectacular stretch of form going, and although Leicester sits in an ailing state right now, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Foxes give the Saints a run for their money with Ulloa back. Southampton 3, Leicester 2.

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