Southampton - Sunderland Preview: Hosts looking to extend four-match unbeaten streak at St Mary's
The Saints have pulled themselves out of the relegation zone with some creditable performances in recent weeks, and now play host to a visiting side sitting one place above them
By Al Hain-Cole
Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw
Puncheon, Ramirez, Rodriguez
Gardner, Cuellar, O'Shea, Rose
Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McLean
Kelvin Davis will keep his place in the Southampton goal ahead of the injured Paulo Gazzaniga (shoulder), after keeping only his side's second clean sheet of the season against Reading last time out.
Adam Lallana's knee injury should see Gaston Ramirez continue in the supporting role behind Rickie Lambert, although he may alternate with Jay Rodriguez on the left wing.
Sunderland's Steven Fletcher (ankle) has recovered more quickly than anticipated from the injury that forced him off against Manchester United last weekend, and should start.
Danny Rose (ankle) should be fit to start at left-back, allowing Jack Colback to move back into central midfield and Craig Gardner to revert to right-back in the absence of Phil Bardsley (knee).
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Southampton are unbeaten in four games at St Mary's, while Sunderland have only won once on the road in their last 16 matches.
- The last Premier League meeting between these two sides came in January 2003, when James Beattie scored the winner in a 1-0 Saints victory.
- Reading (17) are the only side to have lost more points from winning positions this season than Southampton (15).
- Only bottom-of-the-league Reading (six) have won fewer than the eight points won by Sunderland over the last 10 Premier League fixtures.
- With seven yellow cards to his name already, the Mackems' Craig Gardner (pictured, right) is the most-booked player in the division.
- No side have won fewer points from losing positions than Sunderland this season in the top flight (one).
- Saints have been fouled less than any other Premier League team this season, while their visitors have been fouled the most.
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Top 3 Predictions
Southampton 1-2 Sunderland
- 9.75 %
Southampton 2-1 Sunderland
- 9.47 %
Southampton 1-1 Sunderland
- 6.96 %
|Capital One Cup (CCUP)||6 Nov 2013||Sunderland 2 - Southampton 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||24 Aug 2013||Southampton 1 - Sunderland 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||12 May 2013||Sunderland 1 - Southampton 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||22 Dec 2012||Southampton 0 - Sunderland 1|
|14 Dec 2013||Newcastle United 1 - Southampton 1||EPL|
|7 Dec 2013||Southampton 1 - Manchester City 1||EPL|
|4 Dec 2013||Southampton 2 - Aston Villa 3||EPL|
|1 Dec 2013||Chelsea FC 3 - Southampton 1||EPL|
|23 Nov 2013||Arsenal FC 2 - Southampton 0||EPL|
|6||Jose Rocha Fonte||Defender|
|21||Guilherme Do Prado||Midfielder|
|33||Steve de Ridder||Striker|
|24||Carlos Javier Cuéllar||Defender|
After an initial settling in period, the Uruguayan international has caught the attention over the past few weeks with his intelligent through-balls and eye for goal - as demonstrated by his strike in the win over Newcastle. With the club's usual creative hub Adam Lallana ruled out through injury, Nigel Adkins' team will look to Ramirez for the inspiration to unlock a dogged Sunderland side.
Although he failed to start this season in the same manner as his impressive debut last term, Sessegnon seems to have rediscovered his goal-scoring boots recently with three goals in his last seven. His contributions up front will be crucial in easing some of the burden currently resting on the shoulders of top scorer Steven Fletcher, who has struggled with injuries in the last few weeks.
The hosts will not be short of confidence after some impressive recent displays, and the return of Jack Cork in midfield seems to have helped the defence to stem the influx of goals. Despite missing captain Lallana, the likes of Jason Puncheon, Gaston Ramirez and Rickie Lambert have all hit form of late and should have too much for an away side who struggle on the road.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed