Cardiff City Stadium - Premier League
Ralph Hasenhuttl looks for his first win as Southampton boss this weekend as the Saints travel to face Cardiff at the Millenium stadium. The Bluebirds have finally escaped the relegation zone following an upturn in form, but could see their hard work go to waste with a loss on Saturday.
Cardiff came out on top when the sides last met in the Premier League, with centre-back Juan Cala scoring the only goal at St Marys.
Stephen Warnock is likely to be without Kenneth Zohore, Greg Cunningham, Jazz Richards, Danny Ward and Gary Madine who are all injury concerns for the weekend. The manager is likely to return to a back three, after his experimentation with a four man defence saw the Bluebirds ship three goals against West Ham.
Mario Lemina returns from suspension and should step straight back into central midfield, taking the place of Stephen Davies. With Shane Long, Ryan Bertrand and Danny Ings all injury doubts, Hasenhuttl doesn’t' have many options open to him.
Cardiff v Southampton Preview and Predictions
It won't have come as much of a surprise to many pundits that with the season approaching the half-way point, Cardiff and Southampton are battling it out for relegation. The Welsh side decided against investing following their promotion from the Championship, whilst their south-coast opponents only survived last season by the skin of their teeth and were similarly inactive over the summer. Cardiff are at 9/5 for a crucial three points, with Southampton 17/10 and the draw at 11/5.
However, the Bluebird's resurgence has potentially silenced a few doubters, and saw Warnock's side rise steadily out of a seemingly un-saveable position to 15th in the table. A switch to a three-man defence has seemingly been the saving grace for the Bluebirds, making their change to playing two centre-backs against West Ham all the more strange. A comprehensive 3-1 loss should have convinced Warnock the error of his ways, although a missed penalty by Joe Ralls could have changed the complexion of the game.
Southampton's set-up will also be an interesting subplot of the match - with Hasenhuttl likely to experiment in a second successive away game for the new coach. Having fielded a 4-2-3-1, the former Leipzig manager maybe tempted to revert to the 4-2-2-2 that saw the Austrian find success with RB Leipzig.
Often likened to Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp, the manager should instil in Southampton a philosophy that was sorely lacking under Mark Hughes. A direct, counter-attacking approach should fit the Saints' players well with the likes of Nathan Redmond and Shane Long both offering pace, and a number of defensive midfielders able to provide solidity.
Saturday's game should provide an insight into both sides' chances of survival, with just four points separating the bottom seven.
Charlie Austin to score anytime at 15/8
The forward got his goal against Spurs mid-week and should have earned a start on Saturday.
Both teams to score at 10/11
Whilst far from prolific this season, both teams will be out for a win and the game should be closely contested.