Match Preview: Southampton vs Stoke City – It’s a turf war

Match Preview: Southampton vs Stoke City – It’s a turf war

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With things so tight in the middle of the table, the result from this contest will be key in finalising the standings from eighth all the way to 16th.

Both sides will be looking for wins with a lot riding on the result from this fixture. With little separating the mid-table sides – just six points difference between eighth and 16th – each team has the potential to either gain or lose a lot of ground.

The home side will be hoping to secure eighth spot on the table, knowing that nothing less than a win will secure the position as both West Bromwich Albion and AFC Bournemouth sit just one point behind.

The Potters are currently 14th but know victory could see them rise as high as 11th while defeat could see them drop as low as 16th, both dependent on other results.

Key Battle – Oriol Romeu vs Joe Allen

It will be up to the more defensive of Southampton’s midfielders to shut down the more creative of Stoke’s midfielders.

The Saints’ Spanish defensive-midfielder has had a good season for the club and has successfully filled his role closing down opposition playmakers and screening in front of the back four. In this contest it will be down to the combination of Romeu and likely Steven Davis to dominate the Potters midfield.

Allen has been the creative spark in the Stoke midfield this season with six goals and two assists carrying the burden of much of his team’s attacking play. While not as influential recently, the Welshman has the potential to unlock the defence and get the visiting side three points from this game.

Team News

Shane Long looks unlikely to feature for the home side after picking up an ankle injury against Middlesbrough with captain Virgil van Dijk expected to miss.

Marko Arnautović is tipped to be absent from Mark Hughes’ side, pictured with his arm in a sling after the clash with Arsenal. Stephen Ireland and Ibrahim Afellay will also both be left out of the team due to injury.

Head-to-Head

It is the Saints who have seen the better of this fixture historically having won 21 of 44 meetings to the Potters’ 12, with 11 ending in draws.

Previous Meeting

The last meeting between these two teams was in December last year and finished goalless at the Britannia after Arnautović was sent off in the first half.

Prediction

Southampton have both the quality and motivation to overcome Stoke at home and, in what could reportedly be his last game in charge of the club, Claude Puel will surely be looking to finish the season strongly.

Southampton 2 Stoke City 0

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