Southampton will welcome Leicester City to the south coast in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, and manager Ruben Selles will be desperate for a positive result to narrow the four-point gulf from safety.
Indeed, Saints are currently bottom of the league table after 24 matches with just 18 points, and a win could place the outfit just one point behind Leeds United in 17th, who face Chelsea away from home this weekend.
Despite winning at Stamford Bridge themselves two weeks ago – in Selles’ first outing in the dugout since Nathan Jones’ dismissal – the Hampshire-based club have lost ten of their past 12 league encounters, and further woes against the Foxes could prove to be the hammer blow that eradicates any ounce of confidence in rectifying the sombre situation.
And given that League Two outfit Grimsby Town defeated Saints on their own ground in the FA Cup fifth round a matter of days prior, the importance of a positive response has not been so profound for some time for the club.
With this in mind, this is how Football FanCast expects Southampton to field their eleven against Leicester, seeking to attain an invaluable victory…
How might Southampton line up against Leicester?
Predicted XI: (GK) Bazunu; (RB) Maitland-Niles, (CB) Bednarek, (CB) Bella-Kotchap, (LB) Perraud; (RM) Aribo, (CM) Lavia, (CM) Ward-Prowse, (LM) Elyounoussi; (ST) Sulemana, (ST) Onuachu.
Southampton’s Spanish boss could make as many as six changes to the side that were dismally felled by the Mariners in midweek.
Gavin Bazunu will deputise between the sticks once again, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles could replace Kyle Walker-Peters at right-back; Jan Bednarek and Armel Bella-Kotchap will unite in central defence once again, having kept a clean sheet at Chelsea before shipping just once against the Whites.
Will Southampton defeat Leicester?
In midfield, the impressive Romeo Lavia will retain his robust role, while the “elite” – as dubbed by Ian Wright – captain James Ward-Prowse will return to the fold after making an impact off the bench in the FA Cup, providing two key passes and one assist in that second-half cameo.
On the wide flanks, Joe Aribo and Norwegian star Mohamed Elyounoussi will hope to bring a dynamic dimension to the fold, with the former, a £10m signing from Rangers in the summer, making his first league start of 2023.
Imposing forward and wily young winger Kamaldeen Sulemana will form an offensive partnership once more, hoping to finally break the oppositions resistance and bear fruit for their new outfit, with the “disappointing” – as branded by Jacob Tanswell – Adam Armstrong pushed back to the bench after failing to impress against Grimsby.