The Premier League fixture congestion is getting incredibly hard by the week as it will be the third consecutive Friday that will host a Premier League game. This time around, Leicester City visit Saint Mary’s for a tricky game against Southampton as Leicester look to cement a third-place finish this season.
Southampton, who have had their own share of problems this season as the club are 16 points away from their points tally of last season and Ralph Hasenhüttl will look to win every game from now until the end of the season for a better showing.
Can Southampton win without Danny Ings?
Southampton have a horrendous season by their standards as the Saints have conceded the most goals in the league this season, even more than confirmed relegation candidates in Sheffield United. While this stat may be a little misguided due to heavy defeats in 3 to 4 games, Hasenhüttl has not been able to come up with a competent defence as the German will look to the market in the summer for reinforcements in that area.
However, this will be Southampton’s 2nd game against Leicester in 10 days as the Foxes knocked them out in the FA Cup semi-final and the Saints will want revenge and they have the perfect opportunity to do so.
While Leicester City are currently third in the table, they are by no means in a comfortable position as a slip-up on Friday night could cause memories of last season when they missed out on the Top 4 due to poor performances in their last 5 games of the season.
Southampton, however, have their work cut out for them as they will be without Danny Ings who suffered an injury against Tottenham Hotspur last Wednesday. Ings has been Southampton’s main threat going forward this season with the Englishman being involved in 34% of the Saints’ goals this term. Ings scored against Tottenham as well last week and it without him, Southampton does not look as attractive going forward.
While Che Adams and Ward Prowse have contributed to 24 goals together, they will need a really good game on Friday night if Southampton are to win, something they have done only once in their last 5 Premier League games.
Apart from Ings, Southampton also have full-back Ryan Bertrand out with injury. While Southampton might still get by without Bertrand, Ings is a hole Southampton can’t cover and the Saints will need a team performance against the Foxes on Friday night to secure 3 points.
Leicester cannot afford to slip up anymore, can they?
62 points out of 33 games, Leicester City have already reached their points tally of last season and the Foxes have coped incredibly well even though they suffered a lot of injuries to their star players.
However, Leicester are only 7 points away from 5th placed West Ham and it will only take a couple of slip-ups for that gap to be covered and the Foxes will only be a victory away from European qualification for next season with a win over Southampton on Friday.
Leicester haven’t been in the best of form in the past month as they won 3 out of the last 5 games but face a really difficult 4 games after Southampton as the Foxes will be visiting both Chelsea and Manchester United while they will host the likes of Newcastle United and then Tottenham on the last day of the season.
Leicester goes into the game on Friday night in a good mood as they beat Southampton 10 days ago in the FA Cup semi-final thanks to a burst of brilliance from Kelechi Iheanacho, who also scored on Monday night against Crystal Palace as he has become Leicester’s go-to-man in the past couple of months. The Nigerian will like his chances again on Friday and will want to continue his excellent form in front of the goal.
On the injury front, Leicester suffered the tragic news that Harvey Barnes will miss the rest of the season, including the Euros in the summer. Apart from the Englishman, Leicester are also missing James Justin and Wes Morgan who are out with long-term injuries and like Barnes, will be out for the rest of the season.
Brendan Rodgers wants to desperately play in the Champions League next season after Leicester missed out narrowly last season. Friday night is of crucial importance to the Foxes and they will have to show up if they want to avoid the nerves of last season and cement a place in the Top 4, as early as possible.
Southampton XI: Fraser Forster- Kyle Walker-Peters; Jan Bednarek; Jannik Vestergaard; Mohammed Salisu- Stuart Armstrong; James Ward-Prowse; Nathan Tella; Ibrahima Diallo; Theo Walcott- Che Adams.
Leicester City XI: Kasper Schmeichel- Wesley Fofana; Jonny Evans; Caglar Soyuncu- Ricardo Pereira; Wilfried Ndidi; Youri Tielemans, Timothy Castagne; James Maddison- Jamie Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho.