Southampton have a huge opportunity at St Mary’s on Saturday to make up some ground in the fight for fourth place. Manchester United (56 points) face Liverpool (54 points) and a win for the Saints against Burnley could be a huge help in stringing together a good run, after winning just one of their previous five league matches, between now and the end of the season.
Burnley really need to pick up some wins in their remaining nine matches if they are to stay in the Premier League. They lie in 18th place, one point behind Sunderland and three behind a resurgent Aston Villa. If Sean Dyche’s men are to survive, they’ll need some big performances between now and May, starting with Southampton on Saturday.
Eljero Elia faces a late fitness test if he is to make the Southampton team as he struggles to overcome an ankle injury. Emmanuel Mayuka is ruled out until June and there is still no return date for long-term absentee Jay Rodriguez. Graziano Pelle could return after missing out at Chelsea, though Shane Long may keep his place.
Burnley could welcome Matt Taylor back into the fold after recovering from a calf problem. Taylor played 70 minutes in the reserves recently, though is still an only outside bet to start the match. Dean Marney and Kevin Long are both out with cruciate ligament injuries. Burnley may name an unchanged team after their heroic performance against City.
Burnley have conceded at least two goals in seven of their last eight away Premier League matches.
Southampton have scored at least two goals in their last three home matches against Burnley in all competitions.
Burnley have failed to win their last eight away matches in the league.
Southampton have only scored three goals in their last seven league matches.
Graziano Pelle is still Southampton’s leading scorer with eight goals, though Sadio Mane is closing in with six.
Danny Ings needs just one more goal in the league to hit double figures for the season.
Southampton – Sadio Mane
Mane has been a real livewire up front for Southampton this season. The Senegalese forward is just 22 years old, yet may turn out to be more important than Graziano Pelle come the end of the season, not something that anyone would have predicted a few months ago. Mane has chipped in with six goals and two assists for The Saints,
who have hit a bit of a barren patch in front of goal recently. Southampton fans will be hoping that Mane can find the net on Saturday against a Burnley defence that impressed against Manchester City.
Burnley – Danny Ings
Ings may count himself unfortunate to have missed out on an England call up recently, and will be looking to hit top form against Southampton. Ings has frequently been tipped for a move away from Turf Moor this season, and could have left in January. His goals will be crucial come the end of the season – Ings has nine so far – as will his intelligent forward play. He has forged a good partnership with Ashley Barnes in the absence of Sam Vokes, who is just returning to full fitness, and will be looking to hit double figures for the season at St Mary’s on Saturday. It could be crucial.
Don’t write Burnley off just yet – I’m going for a 1-1 draw, which is 15/2 with William Hill.
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