Southampton vs Burnley Preview:  Can the Saints avenge opening day embarrassment? 
Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

 Southampton will be looking to gain their first victory of the month when they face Burnley on Saturday.

The Saints, who have lost back-to-back matches against Liverpool and Tottenham, currently sit in 13th place in the Premier League, with just goal-difference between them and the Clarets - who are placed two spots above the home side.

The away side have been impressive in their last three top division outings, beating Champions League hopefuls Leicester City and Manchester United, before drawing with Arsenal.

With both sides level on points, a victory for either side will take them as high as a tenth. With Crystal Place not playing this week, even a loss for the Saints will not have a detrimental effect on their league position - with the south coast side over three points clear of any team below 14th position.

As for Burnley, a defeat would only see them fall to as low as 13th, with only Newcastle and Southampton able to overtake their current points tally this weekend.

  •  Previous Meeting 

The two sides last met on the opening day of the season, when Burnley ended the tie as comfortable winners. The Saints, reignited with confidence under Ralph Hasenhuttl, started the game brightly, but defensive frailties cost them dearly - succumbing to a 3-0 loss away from home.

Within the opening minutes of the game was a golden opportunity for new signing Che Adams to get on the scoresheet. Making his debut, the former Birmingham City man grazed the side netting from close range. With the striker still looking to open his account for Southampton over six months later, it could be considered that his fortunes for the Saints may be very different if he was able to find the back of the net.

  • Players facing former clubs

Within each dugout, fan favorites from either club will be facing off against their former employees.

For Southampton, it is highly likely that former Claret Danny Ings will be leading the line. The 27-year-old led the charge in Burnleys 2013/14 promotion push, scoring 21 times as his side finished second in the Championship table.

Despite being relegated from the top division with Burnley the season after, Ings was still able to score on 11 occasions in his debutant season in the Premier League.

For the away side, there will be a couple of familiar faces returning to the south coast. Tireless midfielder Jack Cork had two spells on the south coast, with his second much richer in achievements. After his return in 2011, the Englishman helped Southampton gain automatic promotion to the Premier League, before spending a further three seasons in the top flight with the Saints before his departure to Swansea in 2015.

Burnley is also likely to name former Saint Jay Rodriguez in their starting 11. The internationally capped striker was recruited before the start of Southampton's first top-flight campaign in eight years, scoring six in his debutant season. In his five years with Southampton, the 30-year-old scored 35 times and gained a solitary England cap. 

  •  Key Partnerships 

Danny Ings and Shane Long 

Both Southampton and Burnley set up in a very similar way, with two holding midfielders protecting the back four, and two attacking wingers supporting the two strikers.

The duo has scored 15 goals between them, with Ings scoring all but one of those. 

The striker force could be compared to that of Emile Heskey and Michael Owen for Liverpool. Long, the least talked about of the two, is used to flick on the ball and knock it down to onrushing attackers who feed the ball to the poacher Ings - who more often than not find the back of the net. 

In addition, both central forwards play a key role in pressing the back four. The ability of the pair to force mistakes out of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski will be imperative if the Saints want to get a positive result, with their attacking lineup unable to break down the rigid back-four the last time that they faced off. 

Jay Rodriguez and Chris Wood

With Ashley Barnes out injured, former Saint Rodriguez has stepped in to aid Wood upfront - scoring a memorable goal at Old Trafford, meaning the 30-year-old has scored at the famous ground for three different clubs.

With both forwards over six feet, they fit perfectly into Burnley's tactic - allowing the Clarets to hold up the ball high up the pitch through their long ball system. 

Their attacking prowess both inside and outside the box has led to a combined 14 Premier League goals this season, and are more than likely to cause a constant danger against a Southampton side who are known for struggling against two striker formation.

  •  Five  things to consider

 The Saints have not beaten Burnley since October 2016 (L3, D3).

Ashley Barnes has scored four goals in his last four games against Southampton but is out injured. 

Southampton has won just three games at home this season, with their total points at St. Marys bein - the worst in the league  (W3, D2, L7). 

Burnley have collected 12 points on the road, averaging one point a game on their travels (W3, D3, L6).

There has been an average of 3.42 goals this season per match when the Saints have played at home, compared with an average of 2.67 goals when Burnley have played away from Turf Moor

  •  Team News

For the home side, manager Ralph Hasenhuttl hinted that he has a full squad to choose from heading into Saturday. Midfielder James Ward-Prowse suffered a serious cut on his leg in the Saints 3-2 away F.A Cup defeat to Tottenham, but should be available for selection. 

In the defensive front, loan signing Kyle Walker-Peters could make his debut but faces stiff competition from academy graduate Yan Valery, who has recovered from his severe virus. 

As for Burnley, Barnes, who scored twice in the reverse fixture, is out injured, along with out of favour Ben Gibson. Defenders Matt Lowton and Charlie Taylor are also suffering from injury but could be included in the squad if they recover in time. 

  • Predicted lineups

Southampton: McCarthy, Bertrand, Bednarek, Stephens, Walker-Peters, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Redmond, Armstrong, Long, Ings.

Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters, Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil, Wood, Rodriguez. 

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