Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Premier League clash between Leeds United and Southampton, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Seeking to continue their climb away from the drop zone, Leeds United return to Premier League action following the international break with Saturday afternoon’s clash against Southampton at Elland Road.
The Whites produced an astounding comeback to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2 last time out, while Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side went down 2-1 to Watford.
Losing no fewer than four players to injury and seeing Francisco Trincao and Jonny make the net ripple seemingly spelled a heavy defeat for Leeds at Molineux, but after Raul Jimenez was sent for an early bath, Jesse Marsch‘s side pulled off what appeared to have been an impossible turnaround.
Jack Harrison, Rodrigo and Luke Ayling‘s stoppage-time winner sent the travelling support into rapture as Leeds boosted their survival hopes at the expense of Wolves’ top-four prospects, but there is still work to do if the Whites are to secure a third successive season of top-flight football.
Back-to-back wins over Norwich City and Wolves has seen Leeds open up a seven-point gap to Watford in 18th, but the 16th-placed Whites have played three more games than Everton – sandwiched in between the two sides and four adrift of Marsch’s side.
Burnley’s games in hand also means that Leeds’ top-flight destiny is not all down to them at this point, but if the Whites can replicate the spirit and desire they showed against all the odds at Molineux, a 2022-23 campaign in the big time should be theirs.
A record of 67 goals conceded is still the worst in the division by far, though, and they have failed to keep a clean sheet at Elland Road in the league since November, so they could not have picked a better time to face a Southampton side whose fortunes have taken a turn for the worse.
An extremely positive start to the New Year has now been consigned to the history books for Southampton, who will end the month of March with no Premier League points to their name and a crushing FA Cup exit to boot.
After suffering three defeats from three against Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Watford in the top flight, Southampton were swept aside 4-1 by Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, despite being given a slight glimmer of hope following Aymeric Laporte‘s own goal.
Facing Chelsea and Arsenal later this month also does not bode well for Southampton’s hopes of a top-half finish, but Hasenhuttl’s 11th-placed side are only one point adrift of Aston Villa in ninth and are in dire need of a pick-me-up amid their downward spiral.
While the bulk of Southampton’s losses in the month of March came in front of their own fans, keeping the back door shut away from home has not been the Saints’ forte, with Hasenhuttl’s side conceding at a rate of higher than two per game on the road since November.
Leeds may have claimed back-to-back wins over Southampton last season by an aggregate scoreline of 5-0, but an Armando Broja winner saw the Saints win 1-0 at St Mary’s earlier this season as the South Coast side aim to make the 250-mile journey worthwhile.
Leeds United Premier League form:
Southampton Premier League form:
Southampton form (all competitions):
Leeds quartet Patrick Bamford, Diego Llorente, Illan Meslier and Mateusz Klich all left the field injured in the win over Leeds, with the former fighting to return before the end of the season due to a plantar fascia rupture.
Llorente (back), Klich (concussion) and Meslier (thigh) are all expected to be available, though, and Marsch has also revealed that both Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper are in contention to start. Raphinha has also recovered from coronavirus.
Junior Firpo, Tyler Roberts and Jamie Shackleton are all expected to miss the game, although Leo Hjelde has returned to training as Joe Gelhardt and Sam Greenwood pine for minutes in Bamford’s absence.
Broja and Che Adams were both benched for the FA Cup loss to City but ought to displace Shane Long and Adam Armstrong in the final third here, with the former netting his maiden Premier League goal in this fixture three and a half months ago.
Leeds United possible starting lineup:
Meslier; Ayling, Llorente, Koch, Dallas; Phillips, Forshaw; Raphinha, Rodrigo, Harrison; James
Southampton possible starting lineup:
Forster; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters; Elyounoussi, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, S. Armstrong; Broja, Adams
We say: Leeds United 2-2 Southampton
A two-week period with no Premier League action may be just the tonic that Southampton needed to recover from their abysmal streak, and Leeds are yet to find the optimal defensive formula under Marsch.
Confidence will be through the roof in the Elland Road ranks following the five-goal thriller at Molineux, but a refreshed Southampton can take advantage of the hosts’ ongoing fitness woes to take a point home from an entertaining clash.