Tactics writer Sam Tighe previews Southampton's return to Premier League action against Leicester at St Mary's in the latest edition of Tactical Watch.
Few teams highlight the topsy-turvy nature of Premier League form better than Leicester City.
Early last month, the Foxes put four goals past Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur in consecutive games, creating a surge of optimism within the fanbase that their time towards the bottom of the league would soon be over.
What followed, though, was three consecutive losses – and although there’s no shame in losing to Arsenal and Manchester United, losing to Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup certainly stung.
Leicester will be eyeing this fixture the exact same way Southampton will: as a big chance to get back on track in the league and push up the table.
Rodgers has spoken about the “need to constantly evolve and improve” – but that’s tough when you can’t refresh your squad via the transfer window. Leicester were unusually quiet in the market last summer and it impacted their form heavily before the World Cup.
There’s been a different feel to them since January, though, after bringing in several new faces; each has made an impact, contributing heavily to wins already.
Watch out for Victor Kristiansen, an all-action full-back who has been very good so far. His link-up play with Harvey Barnes isn’t fully developed yet, but they’re showing signs.
Harry Souttar – all 6ft 6in of him – has solidified the defensive line and Brazilian winger Tetê’s speed is a threat in behind.
First things first, Southampton need to re-find the fearless intensity with which they played at Stamford Bridge. Rubén Sellés admitted his team weren’t quite themselves at Elland Road and will be working to re-find that level for the St Mary’s crowd.
Leicester have improved defensively since Souttar’s arrival, with their major weakness to set-piece goals drying up a bit, but still look vulnerable in a variety of ways that Southampton can take advantage of.
Paul Onuachu's towering height is a rare match for Souttar’s, while Kamaldeen Sulemena’s burst and speed could prove useful running at a defensive line who can find themselves out of sync. Then, of course, there’s James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick threat that always worries opposing managers!
Ward; Castagne, Souttar, Faes, Kristiansen; Mendy, Dewsbury-Hall; Tetê, Maddison, Barnes; Iheanacho.
- Dewsbury-Hall is a very press-resistant midfielder who can turn and go in transition
- Kristiansen is a full-blooded full-back who does everything at speed
- Watch for Iheanacho’s clever movements both in behind and dropping off
- Maddison pulls the strings in midfield for Leicester, but has had injury issues
- Souttar is a new and hulking presence in the defence, he’s impressed so far