Southampton v Stoke City Preview: Saints entertain Potters in crucial relegation six-pointer

Southampton v Stoke City Preview: Saints entertain Potters in crucial relegation six-pointer

Mauricio Pellegrino and Paul Lambert meet as managers for the first time, in uninspiring circumstances however as both are attempting to avoid the drop.

Ryan White

Two teams toying with relegation to the Championship lock horns this weekend on the south coast as Mauricio Pellegrino and his Southampton squad host a Stoke City side managed by ex-Aston Villa man Paul Lambert

The Saints are desperately in the search for a first home win of 2018 - their last victory at St. Mary's coming in the emphatic 4-1 thumping over Everton at the end of November - and Pellegrino rallied his players earlier this week going into the final weeks of the Premier League campaign. 

As for Stoke City, they will be aiming to end their torrid away run, which has seen the club not pick up a win on the road since late October, and the supporters may see the trip to Hampshire as the perfect opportunity to kick-start their strides for safety. 

The visitors sit second-bottom, above West Bromwich Albion, and a measly one point behind their opponents; although Southampton do sit three places in front of the Potters in 16th in the top-flight ladder. 

Youngster hopeful of making first appearance of the season

20-year-old Josh Sims shone a light above anyone else in the Saints' draw at Turf Moor against Burnley last weekend, coming on as a substitute on his comeback from a long-term layoff in the treatment room, and supporters will be eager to see the midfielder's name on the team sheet this Saturday. 

His pleasing performance versus the Clarets may give him a deserving spot in the starting eleven for the visit of Stoke City. 

The only other concern is striker Charlie Austin whose not expected to return to first-team action until the end of March, after the international break later this month. 


Goalkeeper to miss out on journey to St. Mary's

Despite Stoke City boss Paul Lambert having an England international at his disposal in the form of Jack Butland, there is a minor goalkeeping crisis at the Potters with the news confirming shot-stopper Lee Grant will not be in the squad travelling to Southampton following a slight break in the wrist during training. 

However, there are one or two familiar faces set to be back in the side as captain Ryan Shawcross and veteran forward Peter Crouch have recovered from ankle problems they previously suffered. 

Potters on top in recent encounters

Stoke City have the bragging rights over Southampton over recent fixtures they have played each other; specifically at St. Mary's.

The last meeting on the south coast was nine months ago on the final day of the Premier League campaign. A second-half goal courtesy of Peter Crouch proved to be the winner and end his team's campaign on a high, not so much for Saints boss Claude Puel, who would later face the sack. 

These outfits did, of course, meet in the north-west earlier this season when goals from Mame Biram Diouf and Crouch were also enough for Saturday's visitors to claim the triumph, Maya Yoshida's effort proving to be a consolation for Southampton.