Southampton host Burnley in their first home league tie since a 1-0 win over Swansea City back on September 18th. This will be the first home tie since the allegations against former assistant manager Eric Black came to light as part of investigative work by The Telegraph. The Hampshire side find themselves in a comfortable 10th position, although are already 5 points behind 5th position, in which former boss Ronald Koeman sits with his Everton side. Considering Southampton are currently in the group stages of the Europa League, their fans might have got a thirst and lust for European football that is unquenchable. At this admittedly embryonic point of the season, it looks as if Cup success might be the best way for the South Coast side to secure European football again.
Burnley on the other hand can be fairly happy with their start to the season, back in top flight after a one year hiatus. Wins over Liverpool and Watford have propelled the Clarets away from the drop zone, and anyone who saw their game versus Arsenal knows how unlucky they were not to get a point out of that. 14th is a great place for Sean Dyche’s men to be, and they will hope to cement that position, starting with a point away at St. Mary’s. It’s a 4pm Sunday kick-off as Burnley make the 524 mile round up trip to the bank of the River Itchen.
Burnley are the joint lowest scorers in league with Stoke City, while Southampton boast a mean defence, conceding only 6 all season, and keeping a clean sheet in their last 6 consecutive matches. Arsenal were the last team to net against the Saints, and they were also the last team to play Burnley in the league, winning 0-1 courtesy of a controversial smash and grab in the last minute. Apart from putting three past West Ham, Southampton haven’t scored more than 1 goal in any Premier League match so far this season. However, don’t write this one off as a low scoring affair just yet, as it seems the Saints are beginning to hit their stride after a mediocre (at best) start to the season.
It must be noted that only two points and four positions separates the two sides, such is the bunched up nature of the mid-table. This is likely to be a close game, with two sides in the ascendency in terms of form and confidence, who will want to prove themselves against one another.
Predicted line ups
Southampton will likely field a largely unchanged side from the one that earned a point at Leicester City on October 2nd.
Southampton Starting XI:
Burnley started in the season is a seemingly rigid 4-4-2 formation. However, Sean Dyche sprung a change against Leicester to the currently in vogue 4-2-3-1. Expect the Lancashire side to line up in the latter on Sunday.
Burnley Starting XI:
Injuries and suspensions
Southampton face a couple of injury induced headaches as Ryan Bertrand and Shane Long picked up injuries on international duty.
Tom Heaton sustained a minor calf injury with the England national side, but is expected to return just in time for this game. Andre Gray continues his suspension following his historic twitter use and will be unavailable for the Clarets.
A tough game for both sides, but expect home advantage to just about see Southampton over the line for this one. Southampton’s tight defence coupled with Burnley’s lack of firepower is the main hindrance for Dyche’s men, who otherwise might have had a chance of getting a positive result.
Prediction 1-0 Southampton win.
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