Leicester City-Southampton Preview

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After coming up with three vital points to maintain their third-place status, Leicester City look to sustain that momentum Friday when they travel to St Mary’s to face struggling Southampton.

The Foxes (5-2-2) have claimed seven of their 17 points from losing positions, overcoming an early deficit last Saturday to defeat Burnley 2-1 at home. Jamie Vardy pulled Leicester City level just before halftime, heading home a cross from Harvey Barnes, and Youri Tielemans’ rasping 12-yard shot in the 74th minute in the upper left 90 proved the decisive marker.

The Midlands club were also fortunate a VAR decision overturned an equalizing own goal by defender Jonny Evans after Chris Wood was adjudged to have fouled the centre back as he tried to clear a rebound.

“I think that was an important game for us today,” Barnes told LCFC TV. He also assisted on Tielemans’ match-winner, giving Demarai Gray’s cross a soft re-directing flick. “It wasn’t an easy one, as you saw, but to come out with the three points in the end is massive.”

The result allowed Leicester City to remain in third ahead of Chelsea on goal difference, and they also pulled within eight points of table-topping Liverpool. Vardy, whose wife was in the news during the international break for her social media dust-up with Wayne Rooney’s wife, has a team-high six of the Foxes’ 16 goals.

The former England international, though, has found it tough going against Southampton with just two goals in 10 career matches. Both came in a 2-2 draw at St Mary’s in Leicester’s magical title-winning 2015-16 campaign. Vardy’s 86 Premier League goals since Leicester City won promotion for the 2014-15 season trail only Harry Kane (127) and Sergio Aguero (120) in that span.

Brendan Rodgers reported no new injury concerns, and he is optimistic playmaker James Maddison will be available for the full 90 minutes. Maddison, who pulled out of England’s squad during the international break with an ankle injury, was able to play 73 minutes before being subbed off.

“He’s fine,” Rodgers said at his Wednesday news conference. He didn’t do much in the weeks after the Tottenham game. “He only had a few days, so he lasted the game (vs. Burnley) very well. He wasn’t quite up to match fitness, but he got a good period of the time in and he’ll be fit and ready for Friday.”

Southampton (2-2-5) remain barely above the drop, in 17th place ahead of Newcastle United on goal difference. The Saints are winless in their last four matches but stopped a three-game losing streak with a 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton on Saturday.

Danny Ings continued his rich vein of goal-scoring, striking in the 53rd minute to give Southampton a short-lived lead. Ings has his first three-match goal-scoring streak in league play since January 2015 and a career-best four-game run in all competitions. He has accounted for four of Southampton’s nine league tallies and leads the Saints with six goals in all competitions.

“A good organised performance from my team. We had chances also for a second goal, but finally we take this point. It’s an important one for us. We go on from here,” Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl told the club’s official website. “I’ve got no doubt, that after only one point from our home games, that we must do everything against Leicester next week.

“We need to be committed against a good opponent. It will be a tough game, but we will prepare and look for a good game plan and then let’s see.”

This match opens a difficult four-game gauntlet for Southampton, who will face two-time champions Manchester City, Everton, and Arsenal following this match. The Saints have taken just one point from their four home matches while shipping 10 goals and losing to Liverpool, Bournemouth, and Chelsea.

Their lone point came at the expense of mightily struggling Manchester United.

Cedric Soares and Moussa Djenepo are again injury absentees for Southampton, with Djenepo the only other player with more than one goal despite making just one start and three appearances totaling 124 minutes.

The road team won both matches last term by a 2-1 count, bracketing a Leicester victory on penalties in the round of 16 in the Carabao Cup. James Ward-Prowse and Shane Long scored first-half goals to power Southampton to a victory in the most recent matchup in January.

Leicester City have won back-to-back matches at St Mary’s after winning just two of their previous 14 visits (2-5-7).

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