The Premier League is all set to return as the FIFA World Cup draws to a close. Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton come head-to-head in what looks like an exciting matchup between two sides hoping to restart the season on the front foot. Ahead of the World Cup, Southampton announced that Nathan Jones will take over from Ralph Hasenhüttl, and the Englishman started his tenure with a 3-1 defeat against Liverpool.
Nevertheless, the break came at the right time for the Saints as they are hovering down the relegation zone. Brighton & Hove Albion, on the other hand, have played some exciting football under Roberto De Zerbi, despite results stating otherwise. They are currently seventh with 21 points to their name as De Zerbi prepares for a tough set of fixtures.
When and Where?
Stadium: St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton.
Date: Monday, 26th December 2022.
Time: 3:00 PM BST.
Referee: Robert Jones.
Assistant Referees: Lee Betts, Ian Hussin.
Fourth Official: Dean Whitestone.
VAR Official: Michael Salisbury.
Southampton have a few injury troubles after a month’s hiatus. Tino Livramento, who suffered a knee injury, is still ruled out of action, while teenager Juan Larios is also sidelined with a muscular issue. Romeo Lavia has been impressive since his move from Manchester City, but the game against Brighton could come early for the Belgian.
World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister is having the time of his life, as he is celebrating in his hometown and will only return after the new year. Meanwhile, Jakub Moder is out with an ACL injury, while Adam Webster joins him on the treatment table. Danny Welbeck also has injury issues, but he could be in contention to start on boxing day.
Southampton enjoyed their first victory under Nathan Jones against Lincoln City in the Carabao Cup and progressed to the quarter-final where a tasty tie against Manchester City awaits. However, they will now turn their attention to the Premier League, where the next few games could decide their first-division status. Jones reverted to a back-five formation with Lyanco, Bella-Kotchap, and Salisu as the center-backs and could well continue with this system since it provides defensive stability. Che Adams was the brightest spark last week as he scored twice, and the Saints will rely on his form up front.
Brighton, however, failed to overcome Charlton Athletic in the League Cup, but De Zerbi’s side will arrive at this tie as favorites. They will have to do without a couple of their key players, but the team is well-drilled to cause problems for their opponents. Moreover, they missed a multitude of chances against Charlton and ultimately lost on penalties. However, the likes of Leandro Trossard, Kaoru Mitoma, could provide an added boost to the forward line. Gilmour might continue to deputize Mac Allister and will hope to cement his spot in the side.
Che Adams – Southampton
Che Adams seems to be Jones’ trusted forward, and he is repaying him in some fashion. A goal against Liverpool in November was followed by a double against Lincoln last week and it looks like the Scottish striker is finally settling into his role. Adams’ runs in behind and his ability to arrive in the right place at the right time could prove crucial for Southampton in the upcoming games. 4 goals and 1 assist so far for a relegation-threatened side isn’t bad as his confidence is on the rise.
Leandro Trossard – Brighton & Hove Albion
Trossard returning home early from the Belgian camp could benefit Brighton massively. He has been the Seagulls’ go-to man this season with 7 goals and 2 assists to his name. With Welbeck struggling in front of the goal, De Zerbi will once again rely on Trossard to deliver the goods upfront.
Southampton: Bazunu; Bella-Kotchap, Lyanco, Salisu; Walker-Peters, Ward-Prowse, Maitland-Niles, Elyounoussi, Perraud; A Armstrong, Adams.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Colwill, Estupinan; Caicedo, Gilmour; March, Lallana, Mitoma; Trossard.