Following the end of the international break, Southampton will resume their Premier League campaign when they travel to the Dean Court on Saturday to face Bournemouth. The Saints will be looking for their second win of the season as they aim to recover from their dismal start to the campaign.
However, they will be up against a high-flying Bournemouth side who have already gathered 16 points from their eight matches so far.
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Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy and midfielder Stuart Armstrong being their only doubts going into this fixture. There is, however, a slight issue regarding the fitness of Shane Long though he is expected to feature in this weekend’s contest.
Predicted Southampton lineup vs AFC Bournemouth
Alex McCarthy is expected to return to full fitness before Southampton’s clash with Bournemouth and start in goal.
Consistency is key at the back for a struggling team and we expect to see a back-four of Cedric Soares, Jannik Vestergaard, Wesley Hoedt and Ryan Bertrand.
Hoedt, in particular, has emerged as an integral figure in the backline, following the departure of Virgil van Dijk earlier this year.
The Dutchman has averaged three tackles, five clearances and almost two interceptions per match and therefore, his presence at the back could be of paramount importance for the visitors as they aim to keep out the sharp Bournemouth attack.
Hughes is likely to opt for the Mario Lemina and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to start in midfield. Although Lemina has somewhat failed to live up to the expectations since joining from the Serie A, his creativity and dynamism will be important for Southampton going forward.
Hojbjerg’s intelligence in the centre of the park will be key to stopping the dominant Bournemouth midfield.
Mohamed Elyounoussi and Nathan Redmond will be deployed as wide midfielders in the 4-4-2. Redmond unsurprisingly leads his teammates in terms of dribbles attempted while Elyounoussi has produced almost two key passes per game, making him a vital cog in the Saints’ attack.
And finally, the Southampton attack will be led by the offensive duo of Danny Ings and Shane Long. Ings has already plundered three goals since joining from Liverpool in the summer and will be tasked with the responsibility of breaching the disciplined Bournemouth defence.
Shane Long provides the work-rate up top and if he fails to make it in time for the game, Charlie Austin could be given a start.
Stat courtesy: Whoscored