It's Kelechi's world and we're just living in it
Southampton and Leicester City meet for the second time in the space of a month after their first clash ended in the Foxes booking their place in the FA Cup final in May. On this occasion, the Saints will be looking both to get revenge and salvage some pride from a season that continues to plummet spectacularly, having lost 12 games this calendar year in the Premier League. There's a seven point gap from Brendan Rodgers' men in third and West Ham United in fifth, and they have striker Kelechi Ihenacho to thank in large part for that. The Nigerian hitman is in rude form, and will relish attacking such a generous home defence. Read our preview here:
Outside of the bottom three, Southampton have conceded the most of any side in the top flight, and even if the 9-0 hammering by Manchester United is taken out of the equation, they'd still rank very poorly. The once imperious looking defence has been truly suspect in 2020/2021, and have often been badly exposed by Ralph Hasenhüttl's insistence on maintaining a 4-4-2 shape where the two central midfielders have to do the work of an extra man. Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy has also had a campaign to forget, and is well down any pecking order for international consideration. Worse still, he has been weak at stopping shots from range, and that will most certainly play into the hands of Leicester's frontmen and attack-minded individuals.
Though Ihenacho's rise again to true prominence has naturally taken many of the headlines, another player yet to hit his prime age has been quietly having a fantastic year of his own. Belgian Timothy Castagne has been deployed in almost every conceivable role on both flanks under Rodgers, filling in for the injured James Justin and Ricardo Pereira (now fit) at different turns, and beautifully demonstrating his strength with the ball on either foot, especially in the last two matches to great profit. Whilst he won't outpace rival Kyle Walker-Peters on his flank, Leicester will doubtlessly move the ball quicker from back to front, and have the low on confidence hosts on the hopes. The Red Devils international also likes cutting inside, and that could cause overloads and myriad problems in between the two banks of four.
Not a bottle in sight
One of the prevailing narratives in recent weeks has been whether Leicester can hold onto a Champions League place, or will they drop out at the last minute like in the previous term. Ironically, Chelsea did them a huge favour with their win over West Ham last week, creating the aforementioned gap. Granted, their last three games are mightily tricky, but it might not even matter by then if they can perform as expected on Friday night. Ihenacho is red hot right now, and his all-round play has been fantastic. It would actually be a surprise were he not to notch at St. Mary's Stadium, and betway have odds of 7.00 for a brace or better.