Southampton vs Sunderland: Match preview and predicted line-ups
It’s 16th versus 18th as Southampton face Sunderland in their second home game of the campaign, and the Hampshire side will be hoping for an improvement after one point out of six possible gained from Claude Puel’s first two Premier League fixtures. However, what Sunderland would give for one point! David Moyes has already made comments about a relegation battle and the Wearsiders are in the midst of an injury crisis. The Black Cats make the long journey from the North East to the South Coast off the back of two successive defeats. The two red and white striped sides go head to head at St.Mary’s at 15:00 hours, Saturday afternoon.
The Saints have started slowly, with a point against an organised Watford side in the season opener before losing 2-0 to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired Manchester United side under the Friday night lights of Old Trafford. Not the worst start to the season in the world, but Puel’s men will want to register that elusive win as soon as possible. The Frenchman himself has said he has “regrets” over the defeat to the Red Devils stating the Saints were not clinical enough. That will no doubt be something he will have worked on the training ground in the week building up to this fixture.
Sunderland have been outgunned 2-1 on their previous two fixtures this season, somewhat expectedly against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, before losing a Tees/Wear derby to new boys Middlesbrough. David Moyes will hoping for a point at least from a difficult away tie to attempt to kick-start the season before the gap between Sunderland and safety grows further. Sunderland did not enough the luxury of a free week to prepare for this game like Southampton with a X defeat/victory against/over Shrewsbury Town in the EFL Cup second round.
Predicted line ups
Expect Puel to continue to tinker as he tries to figure out his strongest XI. Right back Martina has been heavily linked with a move to Everton and may not feature, whilst Jose Fonte, admist speculation he was leaving Southampton, started on Friday night, and will likely don the armband again in this match up. A deal for Romanian Stanciu looks to be near completion and he may sign in time to make his debut, but deals for other Saints transfer targets (including Simone Zaza) are too far off for this match up.
In the first two Premier League fixtures Moyes appeared to adopt a 4-2-3-1 formation, and this is likely to continue on Saturday. At time of writing Kone appears to be staying put in the North East and may feature, as, probably, will Jordan Pickford who started between the sticks for the Mackems on Wednesday night and looks set to keep his place in Moyes’ team. Sunderland are also linked with Javier Manquillo, but even if a deal was done at break-neck speed seems unlikely to feature. The same applies to any potential deal for Barnsley defender Alfie Mawson.
Southampton XI Sunderland XI
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Southampton have no fresh injury worries following their loss to Manchester United, but there is no sign of Ryan Bertrand (unless Puel is keeping his cards close to his chest) making a return to the starting XI. Sunderland face something of a goalkeeping crisis, with first choice Vito Mannone having (at the time of writing) scans on his elbow due to fear of a potential fracture. Mannone joins a growing list of the walking wounded for the Sunderland cause, with Jan Kirchoff, Lee Cattermole, Seb Larsson, Fabio Borini, Billy Jones and John O’Shea all on the sidelines.
Southampton should have just enough about them to see off the Wearsiders. Being at home will definitely be of benefit to the Saints, who will have a point to prove to their fans that they are still contenders for European football. One does worry for Sunderland who need points, and fast at that. That said, this writer cannot see it coming at St.Mary’s. Southampton to win 2-0, and make Moyes’ relegation comments ring even more scarily true for the unfortunate Black Cat supporters.