On Saturday afternoon, Saints take on Stoke City at the Bet 365 Stadium knowing that taking three points from the game should be the target.
Despite losing last time out at home to Manchester United, Saints put out one of their best performances of the season and were unlucky not to get something from the game. With no disrespect, Stoke will be an easier fixture but an away game in Stoke is never easily won.
They are looking sharp and are improving every game so, after two good performances in a row, this game is a real opportunity to pick up points and score some goals, especially with the huge array of players they have on the injury list.
However, they still possess a number of threats including Xherdan Shaqiri who has proven his passing, dribbling and long-range shooting abilities.
Southampton should see this game as a must-win though as, even though Stoke have scored one more league goal than Saints, they sit in 16th after two consecutive defeats and Saints are in 11th, where three points will launch them up the table.
Why Southampton will win
Even though they haven’t been scoring enough goals, Saints do have a decent number of attacking options in their line-up, the main problem is creating good enough chances for strikers to feed off of. I’m backing them to score more than once on Saturday, especially against a Stoke side who will be fielding some inexperienced players in defense.
Their defense is definitely one of the best in the Premier League if Virgil van Dijk starts – who may be in contention for his first starting place of the season. Pellegrino has also stated that playing with three central defenders is a formation that he is curious of tinkering with.
Saints are unlikely to have too much trouble in terms of defending so if the men up front can put the ball into the back of the net then we will get something from the game.
Why Stoke will win
Stoke haven’t been given much of a fair chance in this game with the injury problems that they possess and so there may be some fringe players that want to prove critics wrong. Jese, Shaqiri, and Choupo-Moting are all dangerous players that Mark Hughes could field and they will be no easy match for our defence. Even though performances of late from them haven’t been up to scratch, they will have the home supporters cheering them on which may prove difficult for Saints.
Goalkeeper: Fraser Forster
Defence: Ryan Bertrand, Wesley Hoedt, Virgil van Dijk, Cedric
Midifeld: Oriol Romeu, Mario Lemina, Steven Davis, Nathan Redmond, Dusan Tadic
Striker: Manolo Gabbiadini
Goakeeper: Jack Butland
Defence: Glen Johnson, Kurt Zouma, Erik Pieters
Midfield: Mame Diouf, Joe Allen, Darren Fletcher, Ramadan Sobhi
Forwards: Jese Rodriguez, Maxim Choup-Moting, Xherdan Shaqiri
If Saints put the right performance in then they will get something from this game. However, I don’t think a point will be enough and that all three should be the target. We predict a 2-0 win for Saints coz we think they’ll be able to get a few goals and their defense has enough quality to keep another clean-sheet!
PREDICTION: Stoke City 0-2 Southampton