Improved form and an appeared resurgence on and off the pitch, Southampton and Norwich City clash on Wednesday evening as the fight to climb out of the relegation places heats up over the cold, winter months.
After three consecutive defeats apiece, both clubs turned their fortunes around less than a fortnight ago, Norwich stunning Everton on Merseyside whilst Southampton were only prevented an even more surprising victory at Arsenal by a last-gasp equaliser.
The Canaries also picked up a point against the Gunners last weekend, a day after Southampton recovered from going a goal behind at Watford, a result that perhaps resulted in Ralph Hasenhuttl keeping his job at the expense of Quique Sanchez Flores.
A quartet of key players
Leaky defences have ultimately proved costly to both clubs this season – 62 goals conceded between them in a total of 28 matches, no other Premier League side have shipped more goals.
Whilst Norwich have kept clean sheets in two of their last three away games, Southampton are yet to keep a side out at home this season. Though Norwich have only secured a solitary victory on their travels.
But for a duo of starlets on either side, both clubs could have formulated even fewer points and would undoubtedly be fighting amongst themselves to be bottom at Christmas.
Todd Cantwell has scored in consecutive matches whilst Teemu Pukki ended an eight-game goal drought last time out, the pair rekindling the form that saw the Canaries manufacture a solid start to the campaign.
11 of the club’s 15 goals have been netted by the duo, exactly the same ratio for Danny Ings and James Ward-Prowse at Southampton – that pairing having scored all of The Saints’ last ten goals.
A danger to themselves
Whilst Norwich struggle to defend against set-pieces, conceding five from such positions already this season, Southampton match that tally through their goals scored with the cultured right-foot of Ward-Prowse an omnipresent danger.
But the Canaries offer a real threat in the wide areas, particularly on the left through Onel Hernandez, an area where Southampton have struggled to tighten their defensive lines.
Southampton’s own attacking midfield maestro, Soufiane Boufal, is unlikely to be fit to start but the home side can welcome back Jannik Vestergaard to bolster their defensive options.
Similarly, Alex Tettey is likely to be available for the visitors, adding weighting to a midfield that has seen Kenny McLean dominate in recent matches.
Draw on the cards?
Whilst three points would be vital to either side, there is barely anything to choose between the two clubs both presently and historically - Southampton have won three compared to Norwich’s two in the last six encounters.
The struggling sides have each picked up four points from their last five games, losing three before winning and drawing one; scored the same number of goals this season (15); attempted the same number of shots per game (12); formulated equal amounts of shots on target per game (4); averaged the same number of dribbles per game (12); been dispossessed an equal amount of times per game (11) and are even offside as much as each other – once per game.
A share of the spoils anyone?