Leeds vs Southampton – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Saturday 25th February 2023
As part of our weekend Premier League predictions, we preview a relegation six-pointer between Leeds and Southampton. Southampton secured a shock 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge – can they follow up at Elland Road? Read on with our Leeds vs Southampton prediction.
Leeds vs Southampton Match Preview
With doubts about new manager Javi Gracia’s ability to take to the dugout for his first match in charge pending the approval of a work permit, Leeds’ preparation for this match is shrouded in uncertainty. At the moment, it’s perhaps fair to say that the West Yorkshire club could do without the additional drama as there’s plenty of it on the pitch and not in a good way. An excellent 2-2 draw against bitter rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford has been something of a false dawn for relegation-threatened Leeds, following consecutive Premier League defeats to Man Utd (2-0) and a disappointing defeat to Everton at Goodison Park last time out (1-0).
Leeds are officially the worst team in the Premier League over the last 10 games results-wise. Four points from a possible 30 is a terrible return, even if they have on occasion been somewhat unlucky to lose against the run of play. Points on the board are all that matter at this point, and they’ve been few and far between. Leeds’ home form isn’t terrible, with 13 points from 11 matches and they’ll hope to make that count in this relegation six-pointer with Southampton.
The Saints recorded a shock 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge last time out against a Chelsea side who are indeed struggling but, to put things into perspective, are in 10th place and can count on far deeper playing resources than Southampton. It really was a priceless victory for the managerless south coast side as they reduced the deficit to 19th-placed Leeds to one point, and are within two points of West Ham. Bournemouth and Everton winning last weekend wasn’t optimal from Southampton’s point of view, but like Leeds, all that matters at the moment is pointing points on the board.
Needless to say, despite last weekend’s much-welcomed boost, the Saints are second-bottom in the Premier League form table following a largely disastrous period under outgoing manager Nathan Jones. While it’s unfair to point the finger squarely at the Welshman, Jones seemingly failed to galvanise the players and was perhaps guilty of chopping and changing too much to find his best XI and indeed, preferred formation.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play: Roca, Sinisterra
Will Not Play: Dallas, Forshaw, Gray, Rodrigo
Might Not Play: Adams, McCarthy
Will Not Play: Larios, Livramento
Leeds vs Southampton Lineups (Predicted)
Leeds (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Firpo, Koch, Wober, Ayling; Adams, McKennie; Gnonto, Harrison, Summerville; Bamford
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Bazunu; Perraud, Bella-Kotchap, Bednarek, Maitland-Niles; Diallo, Lavia; Elyounoussi, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong; Onuachu
Leeds vs Southampton Analysis
Southampton’s Improved Defending Last Time Out
Ok, so one match isn’t a large sample size, but in keeping with the new manager bounce (or caretaker, in this case) that is something of a tradition, Southampton were excellent at defending their own area, remaining compact, restricting their opponents to mostly half chances and putting their bodies on the line for the cause. While the last part of that sentence admittedly sounds like the non-analysis of heart, grit, determination, blood and thunder that used to largely define English football punditry, it nevertheless carries weight here.
When a team is struggling, often the best approach is to go back to basics. To do the simple things right, such as putting in the required effort, covering your teammates, and remaining focused. Perhaps if these things were actually so simple, teams would play at 100% all the time but often when there’s an outgoing manager, the manager has lost the dressing room, so to speak. Southampton defended with a tenacity and a collective spirit that was hitherto missing for large parts of the season, and they’ll need that again on Saturday against Leeds.
If Southampton can get the fundamentals right, they give themselves a chance to unleash their own attacking weapons. This might sound a little dramatic given the Saints’ lowly league position, but James Ward-Prowse has been something of a revelation lately in a more advanced role, while new acquisition Paul Onuachu has been prolific in Belgium’s top division for some time at Genk, registering 79 goals in 114 league appearances. What he will provide Southampton with is an obvious physical and aerial presence as well as being a decent technical player. Newcastle signed Burnley’s Chris Wood a couple of seasons ago for similar reasons, and this transfer could pay dividends in a relegation scrap.
Leeds’ Attacking Quartet
If a newcomer to watching football turned on the TV during most Leeds matches and watched the interplay between Gnonto, Harrison, Bamford and Summerville, with Aaronson also providing a capable attacking midfield presence, they’d justifiably wonder how Leeds are in the mess they are in. Results have been terrible, there’s no denying that, but on a game-to-game basis things just haven’t been going their way. A narrow defeat here, a squandered opportunity to win there, and Leeds find themselves with 4 wins in 23 league matches this season and 19th place for their troubles.
One of the criticisms levelled at outgoing manager Jesse Marsch was a perceived inability to play with enough width to stretch the play in order to give Leeds’ more attacking players more room and better options out wide. Leeds appeared to have taken a big step in the right direction at Old Trafford against Manchester United. While on the balance of play overall they were perhaps fortunate to get a draw, they made their own luck against a United side they managed to catch cold at the beginning of each half.
Leeds carried this approach over into the return fixture, and this time it was the West Yorkshire side who could consider themselves unfortunate not to take anything from the game. This will surely magnify the disappointment amongst the Leeds players and coaching staff at the insipid 1-0 defeat against Everton in which they failed to register a shot on target and where the sum total of their chances created was 0.65 xG. We correctly predicted that Everton would stifle Leeds and win 1-0 because they already look far better organised at home under new manager Sean Dyche. However, that game has gone, and Leeds fans will hope for a more positive performance more akin to those they put in against their rivals United.
While Southampton won 1-0 away to Chelsea, and it was indeed an impressive result, Leeds have been playing the better football of late albeit with their last game against Everton as a rather important aberration. While Southampton did put their bodies on the line so to speak against Chelsea, Potter’s horribly out-of-sorts team still created enough to win the game at 1.67 xG and five attempts on target.
Where Leeds can test Southampton here is with their collective pressing and ability in transition. McKennie and Adams, while a fledgling midfield partnership, should be enough to allow Leeds to control the midfield and get their attacking quartet involved in more space than they were afforded against Everton. With home advantage, we expect that Leeds will recover from their disappointing outing last weekend to record a vital narrow victory.
Leeds 2-1 Southampton
Leeds vs Southampton Betting Tip – Leeds Odds:
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