Southampton host Stoke City on Sunday in the final game of the campaign aiming to give the Saints faithful something to cheer about as the season draws to a close, as St Mary’s has failed to witness the home side score a goal in their previous four games.
The visitors season has petered out with only one win in their last ten league games which has resulted in a bottom half finish for the first time since 2012/13 – regardless of the result on Sunday – but Mark Hughes will be hoping for one final performance at Southampton to end the season on a high for the Stoke City faithful.
Season 2015/16 at the Britannia Stadium finished with the Saints recording their first league win away to Stoke since April 2006, thanks to a first-half brace from Graziano Pelle – which ended the Italian’s 12 game scoring drought.
Despite pegging a goal back early in the second half through Marko Arnautovic, Stoke were unable to convert their chances despite a one man advantage following Sadio Mane’s straight red card.
The result played a significant role in Southampton finishing the season in sixth place and securing Europa League football
Nathan Redmond vs Stoke Defence
Despite scoring only one goal in his last eight appearances Nathan Redmond has the ability to unlock the Potters ageing defence with his pace and desire to run in behind.
With the Stoke back-line leaking goals in recent weeks, Redmond – eight goals and one assist this season – can prove instrumental in creating space for his teammates in the final third by occupying a number of Stoke defenders as the Saints aim to break their four match scoring drought at home.
Cedric Soares was substituted for the home side with twenty minutes remaining in the stalemate against Manchester United after reportedly picking up a knock, and could be a doubt for Sunday. Shane Long will likely face a fitness test after sustaining an ankle injury.
The visitors have only one injury concern with Arnautovic likely to miss the Potters last game after suffering a suspected fracture in his right arm following a challenge on Arsenal’s Rob Holding in his side’s 4-1 defeat at the Emirates.
Southampton: Forster, Bertrand, Stephens, Yoshida, Cedric, Romeu, Davis, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Tadic, Gabbiadini
Stoke City: Butland, Pieters, Martins Indi, Shawcross, Johnson, Shaqiri, Whelan, Cameron, Allen, Berahino, Crouch
Both sides may have their flip-flops at the ready but the beach will have to take a backseat as both side’s face one last test in their league campaign.
Although Southampton have struggled to score at home Stoke’s defence is in a poor run of form, conceding 16 goals in their last nine games, and with little to play for the game will likely lack urgency and intensity.
Southampton 1 – 0 Stoke City