Southampton-Leicester City Preview

(Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

Southampton have almost reached dire straits as we come down the stretch of the 2017-18 Premier League season. The Saints find themselves five points adrift of safety and may have to pull a rabbit out of their hat if they are to avoid the drop.

The club's next chance to get closer to that goal comes Thursday when they travel to the King Power Stadium to face Leicester City.

The Saints (5-13-15) are winless in their last seven Premier League matches (0-2-5), including last week's 3-2 defeat at the hands of Chelsea at St Mary's Stadium.

The performance was there early on for the Saints, who roared out of the gate to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Dusan Tadic and Jan Bednarek, but Chelsea turned the match on its head with three strikes in the final 20 minutes, including a brace from Olivier Giroud and one goal by Eden Hazard.

"It was a tough one for everybody," manager Mark Hughes reflected. "I think everybody saw a huge effort from us, and we got ourselves into what should've been a winning position. Unfortunately, in a period of eight minutes they've been able to build a bit of momentum.

"I'll talk about it until I'm blue in the face; understanding when momentum starts to shift, recognising it and doing something about it to give yourselves time to clear your head. To concede so readily after the opening goal ... clearly that's something we need to be better at."

Despite that poor result, the Saints will need to re-focus on the task at hand quickly, as Leicester City will not make it easy. Defender Maya Yoshida said Southampton will be out for a bit of revenge on Thursday.

"They have many good players on the attacking side," he said. "It's really difficult to play 1-on-1 against (Jamie) Vardy or (Riyad) Mahrez, so we need to be a good, organised unit to not concede a goal. We have a chance to score, I believe, because they've conceded in a couple of games recently."

Leicester City have their own rot to stop as the Foxes have lost their last two Premier League matches. They are in a considerably more comfortable spot in the table, however. Claude Puel's charges (11-10-12) are poised for a top-half finish as they sit in eighth place on 42 points.

Last time out, the Foxes suffered a 2-1 defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor as Chris Wood and Kevin Long scored inside the opening 10 minutes, and the visitors were never able to recover despite a second-half goal from Vardy.

The club could be short-handed on Thursday as top-choice goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and midfielder Shinji Okazaki were both forced out of the Burnley clash due to injury.

Okazaki was withdrawn at halftime with an ankle injury, while Schmeichel was forced off with four minutes to play following a collision with Burnley's Ashley Barnes.

"It was a fall and a knock (for Schmeichel)," Puel said. "The problem is in his ankle and we will see if he can play in this game. Okazaki, also, we will see if can come back with his ankle, too.

"For the moment, (Schmeichel) cannot train with us. We need to adapt to the situation, of course, like we have done already."

If Schmeichel is unavailable, that will leave goalkeeping duties to either Ben Hamer or Eldin Jakupovic.

"I don't want to give details about everyone but just say they are two goalkeepers with good attributes, different attributes, and, if they play, it will be a good opportunity," he said.

Having won the reverse fixture 4-1 in December, Leicester City could complete a Premier League double over Southampton for the first time since 1999/2000. Okazaki hit for a brace four months ago to go with goals from Mahrez and Andy King.

Updated April 17, 2018

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