Friday night sees Premier League high-fliers Leicester make their way to the South Coast to face Ralph Hasenhuttl and his struggling Southampton side. A heavy enough defeat would see the Saints fall into the bottom three, while Leicester could occupy second place – for at least a while – with a win.
The Foxes were tested last time out, with Burnley taking the lead at the King Power before Vardy and Tielemans scored, delivering a 2-1 win for the home side. Southampton, meanwhile, come into this meeting without a win in four, and were fortunate to pick up a point at Wolves in a VAR-filled game that saw the home side denied two goals by video evidence.
Southampton vs Leicester City Prediction: Southampton 1-2 Leicester City
Leicester certainly fare better at home than they do on the road, with only one of their five wins so far this season coming away from the King Power. With that said, their road trips have seen them face Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool – along with that one successful jaunt that took them to Sheffield United. Southampton have underperformed this season, particularly at home where they are yet to win this campaign. It’s realistic to consider the visitors as favourites here, all things considered.
Our recommended tip: Leicester and BTTS
The main difference between the Leicester side of the Brendan Rodgers era and that of Claude Puel is fairly simple – it’s consistency. All too often under the Frenchman, his undoubtedly talented side would approach a game like this as though they were the weaker side, and inevitably perform like underdogs. Without major squad surgery – aside from making the loan signing of Youri Tielemans permanent – Rodgers has overseen a change in attitude from his side; it’s why they’re high up in the league, and should be enough to steer them to victory here – although they may concede a goal in doing so. Betway have a win for the Foxes, with both teams scoring, at 100/30.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Southampton take a 1-0 lead early in the second half as left-back Ryan Bertrand notched for the home side. Four minutes later, City were back on terms as Demarai Gray lashed home a loose ball. After the Saints had lost Pierre Hojbjerg for a second yellow card offence, they looked as though they might hold on for a point. However, two minutes into time added on, Harry Maguire scored from 25 yards to secure the win for his side. More recently, in January Southampton won 2-1 at the King Power thanks to goals from James Ward-Prowse and Shane Long.
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Players to watch: Jannik Vestergaard & Jamie Vardy
Giant Danish centre-back Vestergaard is one of the few bright spots on a season that has so far offered few reasons for Southampton fans to be cheerful. Resolute at the back, the former Brondby man is particularly commanding in the air, and used his height to grab the equalising goal as Saints fought back from a goal down to snatch a draw against Manchester United. He could pinch one here, too – in his first season with former club Borussia Moenchengladbach, he was the Bundesliga’s most prolific defender with seven goals.
Vardy is one of those players who seems endlessly adaptable – in his first season with the Foxes after arriving from non-league Fleetwood, he looked as though he would be converted to a winger so as to harness his speed. No-one would have imagined that he would end up as the key striker in a side that would win the Premier League in 2016, but Vardy’s ability to pick the right runs and work on every aspect of his game has meant that even now, as he approaches his 33rd birthday, he continues to find ways to score for Leicester City.