Southampton vs Leicester | Friday 30th April 2021, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Leicester continue their quest for Champions League football on Friday night when making the journey to an out-of-sorts Southampton side that has lost three in succession. Within that run included Leicester’s FA Cup Semi-Final victory at Wembley, which was an unspectacular affair, and the Saints will therefore be looking for a degree of payback at St Mary’s.
The first thing I feel I should point out regards the schedule. Leicester only played as recently as Monday night when getting the better of Crystal Palace, on a weekend where Southampton didn’t play at all. Brendan Rodgers’ side will be playing their fourth game in just under two weeks, and whilst they’ve won all three in that period so far, it remains to be seen if tiredness becomes a factor.
There is also the motivational aspect. The fact of the matter is that this is a more important game for Leicester. One quick glance of the league table will showcase that. A couple more wins for the Foxes you feel will secure their top-four berth, and they’ll be eager to get three points on Friday knowing they end the season with some tricky fixtures on paper, plus they’ll ideally want to prepare for the FA Cup Final knowing they can put all their eggs in that respective basket.
That being said, whilst Southampton don’t ultimately have anything to play for, they will be more than aware of the need to end their current losing run. Whilst Ralph Hasenhüttl has built a bit of a reputation from his time with the club, he is in real danger of losing that purely based on results, which is ultimately how a manager is judged.
2021 has been a bad year for them in that respect, a string of L’s across their form in this time is why maybe some fans are more open to the possibility of change. 12 defeats in their last 17 says it all, and whilst they are in mid-table it could be that this game takes on extra significance knowing the easy thing to do would be to make such a change over the summer.
Of course, the 9-0 score from October 2019 will come into the eye whenever anyone mentions this game, but that was pre-Covid, which was a different world back then. Last year, Southampton won away in Leicester in the corresponding head-to-head after that 9-0. This won’t be 9-0 again, and I feel it may be a little closer than the league table suggests.
It might be a personal thing of mine, but I am normally keen to back against clubs which make it into the FA Cup Final towards the end of their league campaign. Such are the times we are in, the FA Cup Final won’t be Leicester’s final game of the season, which does complicate matters.
There is also the schedule element, and whilst Leicester do indeed have one of the stronger away records in the league, they’ve had a number of draws on the road of late and a series of tight matches suggests they can still be got on.
The fitness of Danny Ings is always key to Southampton’s prospects, and seeing him hobble off in the Tottenham match last week will undoubtedly affect the pre-match prices for this game. If he misses out, you can bet your bottom dollar Leicester will shorten.
Regardless of that, I am expecting Southampton to come out the blocks here. They performed really poorly against Leicester in the cup semi, and they need a performance, as do the fans. They will be the fresher of the two teams, so we could possibly see a more laboured start from Rodgers’ side, especially if he is tempted to rotate in a few places.
My first play is Both Teams to Score & Over 2.5 Goals at 1/1 (William Hill). Over 60% of Leicester’s away games finished with BTTS, whilst both teams are seeing an average of roughly 3.00 or higher in their Premier League encounters this season.
I do like the look of the 10/1 (BetVictor) on offer for Leicester to Win From Behind. The Foxes did exactly that as recently as Monday evening, and there are some telling numbers around the first-half and second-half records for these two sides.
Southampton are ranked 6th in the league in the opening 45 minutes, which will surprise many, including myself. Leicester are ranked 2nd in the second 45 minute section, so this could be a classic game of two halves.
Finally, I love a card play and I have plumped on James Ward-Prowse to be Shown a Card at 3/1 (Bet365). Incredibly, he has been ever-present this season, so that alone suggests we’re going to get another 90 minutes out of him.
Furthermore, he is the Southampton skipper these days, and with his side in poor form, he’ll be hurting and you know he’ll be charging around the pitch looking to make an influence. Leicester should see a fair bit of the ball at times, and they will build from the back, so the England international will be pressing with intent looking to give his side the upper hand.
Southampton v Leicester – Both Teams to Score & Over 2.5 Goals (1/1 William Hill)
Southampton v Leicester – Leicester to Win From Behind (10/1 BetVictor)
Southampton v Leicester – James Ward-Prowse to be Shown a Card (3/1 Bet365)