Southampton produced a magnificent defensive display against champions Liverpool last time out, as Danny Ings’ lone goal was enough to register a win to move the Saints into the top six. Whereas, Leicester dispatched Newcastle United in a solid second half display that saw goals from James Maddison and Youri Tielemans.
We look at the main talking points between the two impressive sides, as both the clubs come into the encounter with high morale on the back of commendable victories.
Vardy and co. vs the Saints’ resilient defense
As Jamie Vardy returns to the starting lineup, as should James Maddison, it will be quite a show to witness Leicester's attacking prowess against a stern Southampton defense that held out for a clean sheet against Liverpool.
Harvey Barnes will look to partner Marc Albrighton on either side of the returning Maddison in a front three behind Vardy, as the Foxes face the familiar and solid back four of Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens and Ryan Bertrand. Southampton’s defense has let in nineteen goals all season, a joint third-best in the Premier League.
The Leicester front four taking on the Southampton back four will undoubtedly be a mouthwatering confrontation.
4-2-3-1 vs 4-4-2
The 4-2-3-1 system has been Brendan Rodgers’ go-to formation all season - one that has been fruitful in adapting to the possession-based style of play that suits the likes of Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans, who have been exceptional in midfield playing the role of destroyer and linker simultaneously. Having already established a strong defensive set-up with budding youngsters, Rodgers’ has exceptionally integrated the development of Harvey Barnes in the forward lineup along with Ayoze Perez and fellow attackers.
Ralph Hasenhüttl’s system is a medley of quick attacking style combined with smooth transitionary play that transforms the traditional 4-4-2 into the more flexible 4-2-2-2, allowing central midfielders Ibrahima Diallo and James Ward-Prowse to operate freely along the lines in the final third. Full-backs Ryan Bertrand and Walker-Peters are allowed more freedom to operate with the wingers and constantly provide more width, something that may well pose a grave threat to the Leicester full backs at disposal.
A comparatively fresh Southampton
The coronavirus situation has worsened in the Premier League, with a huge upsurge in cases being witnessed among clubs. Southampton’s scheduled meeting with Shrewsbury Town in the Emirates FA Cup third-round has now been moved to January 20, after an outbreak at the League One side.
The match was to take place on 9th January but was eventually postponed. This sees the Saints have eleven days of rest as opposed to Leicester’s seven.
Ings’ absence could be Adams' gain
With Danny Ings sitting out after a Covid positive test, the Southampton attack faces a massive blow. But it could be a much-needed opportunity for another potential-filled striker. Leicester-born Che Adams is one of Southampton’s brightest prospects, having scored four goals and registering as many assists this season.
His clash against Wesley Fofana and Jonny Evans could be one of the match’s deciding factors. Adams is a quick presser of the ball and is likely to try his best to force errors among the Leicester back four as they move the ball around. Adams’ partner in attack, Shane Long, hasn’t got his game running with him being goalless this season.