Southampton host Leicester on Friday night and Simon Mail expects Brendan Rodgers' side to close in on a Champions League place...
"Kelechi Iheanacho has scored 12 goals in his last nine matches and the confident striker also netted the winner against Southampton in their FA Cup semi-final."
Southampton v Leicester
Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Saints limping towards end of season
Southampton's second half of the season has been a major disappointment and the Saints could be heading for another setback against Leicester on Friday night. Ralph Hasenhuttl's side have dropped down the Premier League table to 15th and are arguably fortunate to have a nine-point cushion above the bottom three. There seems little chance of the team being relegated but it has still been frustrating for their fans to see them struggle since the turn of the year.
The Saints are well rested for this game, having not played since their 2-1 defeat at Tottenham in the middle of last week. Danny Ings fired Southampton into the lead but two goals in the last 30 minutes handed them another loss. A run of two wins from their last 15 league games is a poor return, especially considering one of these victories was against now relegated bottom side Sheffield United.
Leicester looking to repeat FA Cup semi-final win
Leicester are on course for one of the best seasons in their history with Brendan Rodgers' side flying high in the league and already into the FA Cup final.
The Foxes will return to Wembley next month to face Chelsea after defeating their latest opponents Southampton 1-0 in the FA Cup semi-final.
But their immediate focus is ensuring their excellent league campaign results in a place in the Champions League.
A 2-1 home victory over Crystal Palace on Monday night consolidated third place in the league. Goals from Timothy Castagne and Kelechi Iheanacho opened up a seven-point gap over fifth-placed West Ham. Leicester missed out on the top four last season, after a poor end to the season, but the side appear to be stronger this time around and their greater resilience can help see them over the line.
Leicester are 2.166/5 favourites for the match and this looks a price well worth taking. Three successive wins in all competitions, including a victory over the Saints in their semi-final, send them into this fixture on a high note and Leicester are within touching distance of a top-four finish. The Foxes also have an excellent away record, with ten league victories on the road - only Manchester City have more this season.
Southampton are 3.45 for the win and this seems a short price on a team which look as if they are desperate for the season to finish. The Saints have really gone off the boil in this calendar year and their defensive weaknesses have been exposed. A run of one clean sheet in the last 15 league outings is pretty damning and Leicester will fancy their chances of punishing them.
The draw is trading at 3.953/1 but neither of these teams have produced regular stalemates this season. Southampton have only drawn once in 2021 while Leicester have not been held in their last eight games in all competitions. The visitors appear to hold all the aces and Rodgers' confident side can take a significant step towards clinching Champions League football by beating Southampton for the third time this season.
Leicester's push for Champions League football and the FA Cup has been spearheaded by the outstanding form in recent months from Iheanacho.
The striker has forced his way into the team and is their top scorer with 17 goals this season. This return becomes even more impressive considering Iheanacho's first league goal did not arrive until the start of February.
Iheanacho has scored 12 goals in his last nine matches and the confident striker also netted the winner against Southampton in their FA Cup semi-final. The 24-year-old scored a stunning goal to secure victory over Palace on Monday and his current form is impossible to fault. Iheanacho's pace and power is bound to trouble the Saints and he looks generously priced to score again at 7/5.
Southampton have lost their last three Premier League home games against Leicester by an aggregate score of 15-2. Their 9-0 defeat in this fixture last season is the biggest home defeat by any side in English top-flight history.
Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster
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