Fresh from securing a quarter-final place in the League Cup, Saints head to Hull on Saturday (kick-off 3pm GMT) for their tenth game of the Premier League season.
With nine wins and just one defeat in the last eleven games in all competitions, Ronald Koeman’s men will look to continue their fine form which has seen them collect 19 points from their opening nine league fixtures.
Wednesday evening’s 3-2 victory at Stoke in the Capital One Cup saw Koeman make a handful of changes to the side that beat the Potters five days earlier. One of the players who came back into the starting line-up was Shane Long, and the former Hull City striker did his chances of playing at the KC Stadium this weekend no harm at all, by scoring Saints’ second goal at the Britannia.
Long started as Sadio Mané was rested from Wednesday’s game as a precaution, while Ryan Bertrand, Toby Alderweireld and Jack Cork were named among the substitutes in the other changes to the team.
Saints have a good recent record at Hull, winning each of the last two trips there, tasting defeat on just one of the previous seven matches on Humberside. It’s been a largely one-way result at home too, with this game coming almost a year to the day on from a 4-1 win over the Tigers at St Mary’s in which three first-half goals from Morgan Schneiderlin, Rickie Lambert, and Adam Lallana put the visitors to the sword.
Hull have accrued eleven points from their opening nine games to the season, including creditable draws at Arsenal and Liverpool in their last two outings which have lifted them into the top-half of the table.
Steve Bruce will be without Saints loanee, Gastón Ramírez who cannot face his parent club under the terms of his deal which runs to the end of the season.
Ramírez played the final 20 minutes of Hull’s goalless draw at Anfield last weekend, replacing top scorer Abel Hernández to help see out the game.
Manager Bruce is happy with the balance on show in his team at present: “We’ve got a little bit of everything in the midfield at the minute,” he said this week.
“We’ve got a goalscoring threat, we’ve got good legs and energy and we’ve got players who can pass the ball well. I’ve been very pleased with how the three of them have worked together so far.
“They’re all big, strong, powerful boys and that’s what you need in the Premier League.”
Saints have recorded a ‘double’ of league wins over Hull in each of the last two seasons, and taken 21 victories out of the 55 meetings between the two teams to-date.
Martin Atkinson has been appointed as the referee for this game. Coincidentally, he took charge of the same fixture in February of this year, in which he awarded Saints’ first ever goal via the Goal Decision System.
He is yet to take charge of a Saints game this season, but was in the middle for the defeat to Chelsea and the win over Crystal Palace at St Mary’s last season.