Southampton host Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday in the final fixture of the Premier League's first weekend back after the international break.
St. Marys Stadium, Southampton, England
Key Stat: Southampton have won just two of their last 15 home games in the Premier League.
Expert Verdict: After recording their first win of the new league season prior to the international break, Southampton will hope to hit the ground running against a Brighton team who have also won one of their first four matches of the season. Southampton’s recent home record has been poor, however, and - having drawn both league games last season - this could be another.
Shane Long and Charlie Austin have missed training, with toe and hamstring njuries respectively. Danny Ings is fit to start up front in their place, however, after recovering from a bad blister. Mark Hughes has refused to fully rule Long and Austin out, meanwhile, with the Monday night fixture allowing time over the weekend for the duo to prove their fitness. Should they miss out, however, Manolo Gabbiadini – who started the Carabao Cup win against the Seagulls – could return to the starting line-up. Hughes also confirmed there were no injuries picked up by the players that travelled over the international break.
Danny Ings – Two goals in his first four games and looking back to his best up front as he continues to put his injury hell behind him.
Alex McCarthy – Form in goal earned an England call-up, albeit without playing, but it does highlight his importance to this Saints’ side.
Ryan Bertrand – Scored against Leicester in their most recent home game and will be out to prove a point after being overlooked for the England squad again.
After a goalless draw at home to Burnley and back-to-back defeats to Everton and Leicester – both of which were lost 2-1 – Southampton have bounced back well. The Saints beat Brighton in the Carabao Cup thanks to Charlie Austin’s late winner and then followed that up with a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace, with Danny Ings and Pierre-Emil Hojbjerg scoring.
Defenders:Cedric Soares, Jannik Vestergaard, Wesley Hoedt, Ryan Betrand
Midfielders:Mohamed Elyounoussi, Mario Lemina, Pierre-Emil Hojbjerg, Nathan Redmond
Forwards:Manolo Gabbiadini, Danny Ings
Florin Andone could feature for the first time against Southampton after looking to prove his fitness with the Brighton Under-23s on Friday night. He is unlikely to start ahead of Glenn Murray, however, particular given the striker’s goalscoring form at the start of the season. Lewis Dunk returned last time out and, despite a bad error leading to Aleksandar Mitrovic’s goal for Fulham, the centre-back will hope to be retained having had a fortnight to improve his fitness since then. Alireza Jahanbakhsh is still waiting his first league start, but did play the full 90 minutes as Brighton lost to Southampton in the Carabao Cup last month. He and Anthony Knockaert are competing for the right-wing spot.
Glenn Murray – His two goals against Fulham earned Brighton a point, and took him to three from four so far this season.
Pascal Gross – A missed penalty against Fulham was a rare negative for Gross, having become an integral part of the Brighton line-up since the start of last season.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh – The Iranian winger has had to be patient, but even if he remains a substitute for now it is quality from the bench that many other teams would love to have.
Brighton have only won one of their five matches this season, but it was a big win – defeating Manchester United 3-2 in their first home game of the campaign. Glenn Murray, Shane Duffy and Pascal Gross scored first-half goals as the Seagulls bounced back from their opening-day defeat to Watford. Since then, however, they have lost 1-0 to Liverpool in the league and to Southampton in the Carabao Cup before, last time out, drawing 2-2 with Fulham thanks to Murray’s late double.
Defenders:Martin Montoya, Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk, Gaetan Bong
Defensive Midfielders:Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Dale Stephens, Davy Propper, Sully March
Attacking Midfielders:Pascal Gross
Southampton and Brighton have already met this season, with the Saints winning their Carabao Cup clash at the AMEX Stadium thanks to Charlie Austin’s late goal. In the EPL, however, both matches last season ended in draws – Glenn Murray equalising after Steven Davis’ opener at the AMEX, before the Brighton man’s penalty was cancelled out by Jack Stephens’ goal in the reverse fixture. They had last met in the Championship in 2012, while they were both in League One in the previous two seasons. Overall, Southampton have won 33 matches, Brighton have won 20 and there have been 16 draws.
Southampton are poor at home, with two wins in their last 15 league games at St Mary’s, while Brighton are poor away – without a win in their last 15 in the league on their travels.
Southampton have beaten Brighton once already this season too, although their line-up for that Carabao Cup fixture was a little closer to full strength than the Seagulls as both teams rotated players.
With neither side impressing, however, this could go the same way as their last two matches in the league against each other – 1-1 draws in both Southampton and Brighton last year.
Glenn Murray is clearly Brighton’s danger man, scoring in both league fixtures last season and going into this one on the back of his double against Fulham.
For Southampton, Danny Ings has found a new lease of life and that includes opening the scoring in their 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace last time out – their first league win of the season.
Southampton clearly have the momentum, but Brighton are in a good place too – their late comeback making it four points from six at home. The Seagulls has issue has clearly been away.
With Southampton not impressing at home, however, the key could well be which defence comes out on top – Brighton up against Ings or Southampton, with in-form Alex McCarthy in goal, against Murray.
There is very little to separate the two teams, however, and a draw would reflect that.
Southampton are favourites to beat Brighton at a best price of 6/5 with Bet365 and 10Bet, with the Seagulls as high as 3/1 to win. The draw is tempting, however, and can be backed at 23/10 with Bet365, Betway and 10Bet.
Both teams scored in both draws between the teams last year, but both teams to score has been set as high as 21/20 with Betfair. A draw and BTTS is 37/10 with 888sport.
With Brighton’s defence back to full strength and Southampton boasting Alex McCarthy in goal, it could be tight, however – there were two goals in each league fixture last year and just one in the Carabao Cup. Under 2.5 goals will return a best price of 4/6 with Betfair.
Glenn Murray, who scored in both matches last year, is 13/5 with Bet365 and 10Bet to add to his three goals in four games this season and score at any time for Brighton.
For Southampton, Danny Ings is their danger man and he is 11/5 to score at any time with Bet365 and 10Bet.
Both league fixtures between Southampton and Brighton ended in 1-1 draws last season and with the Saints poor at home and Brighton out-of-form away, this could head the same way.