How Leicester and Southampton key men could decide crunch game

King Power Stadium - Stormy

The Foxes are sitting pretty, five points clear at the top of the table, while the Saints are still chasing fourth spot.

Southampton travel to league leaders Leicester City on Sunday in a game that will have a huge bearing on the destination of the Premier League trophy.

The Foxes have to go out with the intent to win games now, rather than sit back and hit teams on the counter. This will especially be the case when the Saints roll into town.

The team from the south coast have a very direct style of play that centres around their Italian striker Graziano Pellè. They are second in two categories this year: crosses into the box - 24 per match - and headers won - 19.5 per match. These two statistics combined show that Wes Morgan can expect a busy afternoon.

The Leicester skipper is not adverse to an aerial battle, they are in fact his bread and butter. His warrior-like spirit has helped his side achieve four clean sheets in their last five games. He will have to be at his best at the weekend to deal with Southampton's direct style, and the physical challenge posed by Pellè.

The visitors are bound to sit back and soak up any pressure the hosts put on them and then counter when they see fit.

Leicester, however, are no strangers at pumping balls into the box themselves. They attempt the third most long balls in the league - 72.1 per match - and have won the fourth most aerial duals - 19.2 per match - and on Sunday they will be coming up against a defence that contains Dutch giant Virgil van Dijk.

The former Celtic man is perfectly equipped to deal with Leicester's imminent long-ball threat. He has won more aerial duals than any other player in the Premier League this season - 5.1 per match. With Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki competing for every ball, the Dutchman will be readying himself for what is sure to be an engaging contest.

How Morgan and van Dijk deal with these respective threats is likely to have a huge influence on the outcome of the game.

The sides last met in a thrilling 2-2 draw at St Mary's in October, when Leicester came from 2-0 down to earn a point after two late Jamie Vardy goals.

 

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