Southampton have had an average start to the season as you can possibly get. Their opening six matches have resulted in two wins, two draws and two defeats while they have a goal difference of minus one. Today they will look to improve that record with the visit of Stoke.
Both Southampton and Stoke lost to what you would consider title rivals last Saturday. The Saints were edged out by Manchester United in a game which arguably received the most focus after Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands for ever so slightly encroaching onto the pitch.
While Mark Hughes’s men failed to claim a third home scalp of the season as they were soundly beaten by defending champions Chelsea at the Bet365 Stadium. Alvaro Morata rightfully earning all the plaudits after he bagged himself a hat-trick.
It was always going to be a long afternoon for Stoke considering they were missing all of their first choice centre back trio. Kurt Zouma, Kevin Winner and Ryan Shawcross all missed out due to a mixture of eligibility and injury, the former however is certainly set to return after not playing because of the terms of his loan signature.
For Southampton there defence has been relatively resolute and there was evidence of that last weekend as they consigned Manchester United to their smallest win of the Premier League season but the lack of goals will no doubt be a concern for manager Mauricio Pellegrino.
They have only found the net on four occasions this season and seventy five percent of those goals came at home in their 3-2 win over West Ham. The other came in their 1-0 win over the hapless Crystal Palace a fortnight ago, one thing though when they do score they win so that is something of a positive omen to look out for later today.
For Stoke it is no win in four matches and successive defeats. After beating Arsenal and then drawing with Manchester United at home it looked like a relatively bright start to the season but they now find themselves sitting in 16th and could certainly do with another win to their name sometime soon.
Failure to do so today and the pressure may well begin to heap up on Mark Hughes once again, he will have no doubt bought himself some time after those two performances at the Bet365 but he knows as much as anyone that you cannot afford to rest on your laurels at this level.
The defeat to Chelsea would have been a difficult one to swallow but there was the caveat which was the aforementioned absences to his whole backline that said it would have wiped out some of the early season credit that he built up.
Southampton are a tough nut to crack but are incredibly goal shy while Stoke do not travel well that said the latter needs the result more than the former but I don’t think it will be quite the one they need or want. I have a feeling this will end in a share of the points after a low scoring draw.
Here is what social media thinks will happen – you can still vote on the outcome
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) September 29, 2017