You might not remember, but Leicester City beat Southampton in the two teams’ first meeting of the season and they’ll be hoping to get anywhere even close to that again. Here are some areas the game could be decided.
1. Hamza Choudhury vs Ward-Prowse/Højbjerg
Chasing down and winning back the ball are an important part of the defensive plan of both of these teams; Southampton are 2nd in the Premier League in tackles and Leicester are 3rd, but the Foxes will be without their top tackler.
Wilfred Ndidi will be missing for the rest of the month and the impact was clearly felt in the first half against Aston Villa. Brendan Rodgers isn’t likely to change his style though, with Hamza Choudhury coming straight into Wilf’s place.
Despite playing just 45 minutes, Hamza Choudhury won more tackles vs. Aston Villa (3/3) than any other Leicester City midfielder.— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 8, 2020
He also completed 95% of his passes. pic.twitter.com/ydWPjOm119
The academy product made an instant impact after his introduction in the League Cup semifinal. His energy and desire to win the ball can certainly hold up as the lone ball-winner in the Foxes’ midfield.
The Saints instead tend to play with a midfield pair, sharing the ball recovery responsibilities between them. James Ward-Prowse and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, the team’s two leading tacklers, are likely to start against us and should provide a good test between them.
2. Danny Ings vs Jonny Evans
Few strikers in the world can claim to be on a run of form like Danny Ings, who’s bagged 14 goals in his last 15 starts in all competitions (Vardy also has 14 from 15), including the only goal in their 1-0 over Tottenham Hotspur last time out.
The (briefly) former Liverpool striker is a deadly finisher on current form, but his biggest strength right now might be his movement. He doesn’t open space for himself with great pace or strength, but just by knowing where to be and when. Remind you of anyone?
Happy birthday, Jonny Evans! pic.twitter.com/KyCo5EZN7R— Leicester City (@LCFC) January 3, 2020
Jonny Evans isn’t going to blow anyone away with his pace or physicality, especially when compared to his regular partner Çağlar Söyüncü. He just seems to know what’s going to happen before it does, and before everyone else.
It should make for a cracking contest with Ings, but also a very important one in the context of the game. With the form the Saints’ striker is in in front of goal, it would be best not to give him many chances.
3. Leicester City vs Expectations
Not sure I’ve mentioned this yet, but the last time these teams met, Leicester City set a new record for the biggest away win in Premier League history. The expectations might not be for another 9-0 win, but certainly another win.
The Foxes have bounced back into form by putting away the teams below them, as they have done all season. This one certainly wont be as easy as last time, though. Southampton are now up to 12th after taking 10 points from their last four league games, including wins over Chelsea and Spurs.
Just getting ready for the week ahead pic.twitter.com/afdOEMZidY— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) January 6, 2020
The win away at Chelsea will be a particular blue print for this one - they sat deep and defended their own third for an impressive 90 minutes, in much the same way that Villa frustrated us on Wedesnday.
As we’ve mentioned again and again, the Foxes have actually been pretty good at breaking down packed defences all year, most notably at St Mary’s. Getting James Maddison into dangerous central areas will be key as ever, as will the form of Youri Tielemans, who has struggled a bit recently.