Saturday night's Premier League showdown between Leicester and Southampton promises plenty from the King Power Stadium. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter...
"The visitors have been beaten just seven times in 27 games as guests since the start of last season, scoring in 23 of those away days in the league"
Leicester v Southampton
Saturday January 16, 20:00
Leicester overpower Stoke
Leicester progressed in the FA Cup with an emphatic win 4-0 at Stoke last week. Brendan Rodgers fielded a strong Foxes side with only Jamie Vardy and James Maddison rested from his preferred XI, and the Premier League outfit displayed too much quality with a controlled, efficient and effective effort after breaking the deadlock soon after the half-hour mark.
James Justin's superb effort set Leicester on their way before Marc Albrighton, Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes added to their tally. There was a noticeable gulf in class between the two teams with Stoke's best chance arriving at 0-0 when Sam Vokes blazed a volley over from close range. Elsewhere, the hosts' best opportunity to score looked to be via set-pieces.
Both Vardy and Maddison are expected to return to the fold for Saturday night's showdown but Dennis Praet is a major doubt after he limped off at the bet365 Stadium. Meanwhile, Cengiz Under could miss out once more with an ankle problem, although flying full-back Ricardo Pereira is pushing for a return to the squad after resuming full training.
Southampton enjoy weekend off
Southampton's scheduled FA Cup third-round tie at St Mary's against Shrewsbury was postponed after a significant number of players and staff at the League One club tested positive for coronavirus. It means Ralph Hasenhuttl's visitors have enjoyed a welcome 12 day break since deservedly overcoming defending champions Liverpool 1-0 in their last outing.
Danny Ings' superb second-minute lob from a James Ward-Prowse free-kick settled the contest, delivering the Saints' first win in five Premier League games to move the south coast club to within three points of the top-four. And victory was made sweeter by the fact Hasenhuttl was without several key performers for the contest through injury and illness.
Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy is hoping to return between the sticks following a positive coronavirus test, whilst midfield shield Oriol Romeu and forward Che Adams are expected to shake-off knocks to return to the starting XI on Saturday. However, Moussa Djenepo, Nathan Redmond and Jannik Vestergaard all remain sidelined for Southampton here.
Having humiliated Southampton with a 9-0 victory at St Mary's, Leicester fell to a 2-1 home reverse to the Saints when the two teams renewed rivalries back in January 2020. That success on the road extended Saints' unbeaten run at the King Power Stadium to four (W2-D2-L0), whilst the away team has won this fixture in five of the past six renewals.
Leicester 1.9210/11 are nestled inside the top-four but have Brendan Rodgers' men overperformed this season? The Foxes have seen 35% of their goal tally arrive via penalties or own goals, with the hosts ranking 12th in terms of Expected Goals (xG) generated from open play. City have also collected 78% of their points tally against the bottom-half.
Southampton 4.30100/30 head to the East Midlands unbeaten on their travels since the opening day and with only two defeats to their name in 15 Premier League outings (W8-D5-L2) - against Man City and Man Utd. The visitors have been beaten just seven times in 27 games as guests since the start of last season, scoring in 23 of those away days in the league.
A healthy 11/17 (65%) of Leicester's opening encounters saw Over 2.5 Goals 1.875/6 backers collect but surprisingly, Southampton have failed to follow suit with Ralph Hasenhuttl's outfit recording the Premier League's joint-highest clean sheets (8). Only six (35%) of Saints' fixtures have featured three or more goals with six producing no more than a solitary strike.
With that in mind, I'm happy to look towards opposing a high-scoring contest whilst also keeping Southampton onside. Leicester's home displays have largely disappointed and Saints are well capable of keeping this contest competitive; therefore, the 2.55 on Southampton Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals looks well worthy of consideration.
This selection has paid out in 11 of Saints' last 15 Premier League games, 52% of their road trips since the start of last season, plus half of Leicester's home outings this term, whereas the odds are implying just a 39% chance. Meanwhile, away wins are also outstripping home triumphs in the 2020/21 campaign as home advantage weakens behind closed doors.
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 77.00 pts
Returned: 79.59 pts
P/L: +2.59 pts