Southampton FC

The Lowdown: Ralph Hasenhüttl's In-Form Saints

Leicester City return to Premier League action on Saturday, facing Southampton at King Power Stadium (8pm kick-off).
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The Premier League encounter pits third-place Leicester against sixth-place Southampton, with both sides recording victories from their previous league fixtures.

While the Foxes have won on the last three visits to St. Mary's Stadium, the Saints enjoyed back-to-back 2-1 successes in their most recent trips to Filbert Way.

Ahead of City welcoming the south coast club to King Power Stadium on Saturday, LCFC.com takes a look at the how the Saints shape up this season...

The team

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Southampton FC
Southampton FC

The Saints have enjoyed a good start to the 2020/21 Premier League season.

After an 11th-place finish in 2019/20, there was little summer upheaval at St. Mary's, with the spine of the side remaining from the last campaign, with the exception of Tottenham-bound midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg.

There is plenty of English talent within their ranks, such as Alex McCarthy, Ryan Bertrand, James Ward-Prowse, Nathan Redmond and Danny Ings.

Southampton further strengthened their English contingent in the summer with the permanent signing of Kyle Walker-Peters and the return of Theo Walcott, 14 years after he left the club to join Arsenal.

No Southampton player has featured in more Premier League games this term than Walker-Peters, who, alongside Ward-Prowse and Poland defender Jan Bednarek, has played in every fixture (17).

Ward-Prowse also leads the way for assists in 2020/21, alongside Che Adams, with four to their names respectively. Incidentally, both players have also scored four goals so far this campaign.

Ings has once again been Southampton’s main source of goals, however, netting seven times, following 22 goals in 2019/20, which meant he narrowly missed out on the Premier League Golden Boot to Jamie Vardy.

The manager

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Ralph Hasenhüttl
Ralph Hasenhüttl

Ralph Hasenhüttl is into his third season as Southampton manager.

Former Austria international striker Ralph Hasenhüttl joined the Saints in December 2018, following spells in charge of German sides SpVgg Unterhaching, VfR Aalen, FC Ingolstadt 04 and Red Bull Leipzig.

He won promotion with both Aalen and Ingolstadt, while Hasenhüttl also led Leipzig to a second-place finish in the Bundesliga during his debut season as their manager, runners-up to Bayern Munich.

As a player, at Austria Wien, he won the Austrian Bundesliga three times, and the Austrian Cup twice, while he also picked up another league and cup trophy in his home nation with Austria Salzburg shortly after.

During his playing career, he played for his hometown club Grazer AK, based in Graz, Belgian outfits Mechelen and Lierse, and German sides FC Cologne, SpVgg Greuther Fürth and finally Bayern Munich II.

Following a 16th-place finish in 2018/19, Southampton made a significant improvement the following campaign, finishing 11th in the Premier League standings, remaining unbeaten in their final seven fixtures, including a 1-0 home victory over Manchester City.

Form guide

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Danny Ings
Danny Ings

Danny Ings celebrates his goal against former club, Liverpool.

Southampton defeated Liverpool last time out, recording a 1-0 win against the Premier League champions, with Danny Ings finding the net against his former club.

Ralph Hasenhüttl's men had failed to score a single goal in their previous three matches, but there has still been plenty for Saints fans to shout out about this season.

A seven-game unbeaten run, which included a 3-3 draw at Chelsea and a 4-3 thriller against Aston Villa, has kept Southampton in the top six for most of 2020/21.

In fact, the Saints have lost just four league games all season and they were beaten only once by more than a one-goal margin. 

Previous encounters

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Ayoze Pérez
Ayoze Pérez

A delirious night on the south coast ended with a hat-trick for Ayoze Pérez in City's 9-0 win over Southampton.

The most memorable visit to Southampton's home of St. Mary's Stadium came in October 2019 when Leicester equalled a 24-year record for the biggest-ever Premier League victory.

Jamie Vardy and Ayoze Pérez netted hat-tricks in the 9-0 success over the Saints, which also broke the record for the biggest away win in the top flight.

More recently, however, it was Southampton who triumphed when the two sides met at King Power Stadium in January 2020.

The Foxes had taken the lead via Dennis Praet's 14th-minute strike, but Stuart Armstrong hit back for the Saints before Danny Ings' late winner.

The trophy cabinet

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Southampton FA Cup Winners 1976
Southampton FA Cup Winners 1976

Jim Steele, Mel Blyth and Peter Rodrigues celebrate after beating Manchester United in the 1976 FA Cup Final.

Southampton’s most significant honour came in 1976, when they lifted the FA Cup, following a 1-0 victory over Manchester United, thanks to a solitary strike from Bobby Stoke with seven minutes to play.

In 1984, they finished as runners-up in England’s top flight, finishing just three points behind Liverpool, while they won the third tier in 1960.

Their back-to-back promotions in 2010/11 and 2011/12 eventually led to them making a return to the Premier League after a seven-season absence.

Immediately prior to that recent success, they won the EFL Trophy by beating Carlisle United at Wembley Stadium in front of over 73,000 fans in March 2010.

The stadium

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St. Mary's Stadium
St. Mary's Stadium

St. Mary's has been Southampton's home since 2001.

St. Mary’s Stadium was opened in August 2001, replacing the Dell – an iconic ground which the Saints played at for over a century.

With over 32,500 seats, it has a slightly higher capacity than King Power Stadium, and has played host to four senior England internationals.

The first saw the Three Lions draw 2-2 with Macedonia in 2002, while victories over Norway, Italy and Kosovo have also taken place on the same turf.

The fixtures

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Southampton FC
Southampton FC

The games continue to come thick and fast following Southampton's trip to King Power Stadium.

Leeds United will be Southampton's next Premier League opponents, travelling to face the Whites on Wednesday 20 January (8pm kick-off), four days after their meeting with Leicester.

Back-to-back home games against Arsenal, on Tuesday 26 January, and Aston Villa, on Saturday 30 January, complete their schedule for the month.

February, meanwhile, begins with away trips to Manchester United and Newcastle United, before facing Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea, both at home.

All times GMT.

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