The English Premier League returns with a fresh set of fixtures as Brentford and Southampton go head-to-head at the Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday.
The Saints will look to complete a league double over the hosts after cruising to a comfortable 4-1 victory in January’s reverse fixture.
Brentford were sent crashing back down to earth last Monday, as they fell to a humbling 3-0 defeat against Manchester United. Before that, the Bees were on a four-game unbeaten run, claiming three wins and a draw.
With 40 points from 35 games, Brentford are 14th in the standings, only above Southampton on goal difference.
Southampton, meanwhile, failed to find their feet last time out, as they were beaten 2-1 by Crystal Palace on home turf.
The Saints are now winless in three league games, managing just one victory in their last ten outings across competitions. This poor run has been down to their struggles in defence. They have kept just one clean sheet in their last 11 games, while shipping in 26 goals.
Brentford vs Southampton Prediction
Brentford and Southampton head into the weekend level on points, so a thrilling contest could ensue. However, Brentford should maintain their fine home form and come out with a narrow victory.
Prediction: Brentford 2-1 Southampton.
It's time for our penultimate home game of the campaign, Southampton the visitors to the Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday afternoon. We're separated by just goal difference from the Saints with three left to play. Find all the build-up to the big game below as we look for a third home win in four.
Southampton have had an inconsistent campaign which means they come to TW8 tomorrow in 15th place with 40 points from their 35 matches so far.
Pressure appeared to be building on Ralph Hasenhüttl after just three wins in 17 to begin the campaign. However, their 3-2 Boxing Dav victory over West Ham United led to Southampton's most profitable spell of the season. They picked up 18 points in that nine-game run, lifting them into the top half at the end of February.
However, their form has deserted them again since them. Aside from a 1-0 home victory against Arsenal, they are winless in their last nine, losing six of them. In that run they've conceded 21 goals, including six to Chelsea and four to Aston Villa.
Thomas Frank described James Ward-Prowse (below) as the world's best free-kick specialist ahead of January's meeting at St Mary's with the midfielder leading Southampton's scoring charts with nine, a Premier League high five of which have come from dead-ball situations.
While they might not have the points to show for it, Southampton have performed well on their travels this season. Only Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal average more shots per game away from home (12.9) while only the Premier League's top three give away fewer shots on goal (12.5) on the road.
When asked for Hot Off The Press how Southampton will line up, The Athletic's Dan Sheldon, said: "I would imagine they would stick with their preferred 4-2-2-2 system. I can’t see why Ralph would want to go to a back three with wing-backs against Brentford; he didn’t do that in the previous game where Southampton were very good value and won comfortably"
Thomas Frank has ruled out Zanka (adductor) for the rest of the season while Ethan Pinnock, Sergi Canos (both hamstring), Saman Ghoddos, and Frank Onyeka (both ankle) will also miss out tomorrow.
Southampton's only absentee will be Tino Livramento, who is set to miss the rest of 2022 with a knee injury.
Ralph Hasenhüttl took the top job at St Mary's in December 2018 after two successful years with Red Bull Leipzig. Prior to his spell with RB, which included a second-place Bundesliga finish during their first campaign back in the top flight, he earned promotions from the German third tier with VfR Aalen and second tier with FC Ingolstadt 04. He led The Saints away from the drop zone during his first months in charge, finishing 16th. His first full season saw The Saints achieve their best points total in four years, Hasenhüttl winning the Premier League Manager of the Month award for July, while last year Southampton ended the campaign in 15th.
Hasenhüttl's playing career took him from his native Austria to Germany, via Belgium. He won three consecutive Austrian Bundesliga titles, and two Austrian Cups, in the early 1990s with Austria Wien. The striker moved to Austria Salzburg in 1994, where he won another Bundesliga title as well as an Austrian Super Cup. In 1996, Hasenhüttl moved abroad, with spells at Mechelen and Lierse in Belgium before signing for 1. FC Köln in 1998. His two years at Köln brought just three goals as he finished his career with SpVgg Greuther Fürth and Bayern Munich II. Hasenhüttl played eight times for the Austria national team, scoring three goals.
THE OPPOSITION VIEW
Ralph Hasenhuttl told southamptonfc.com: "In the first year, when you see since I have been here, from the three promoted teams, there is usually one that has been high-flying. Last year it was Leeds, before that it was Sheffield United. This season it is Brentford. They have had some tough moments, but they have had some very good results, especially at home, and shown some very intense games. They are absolutely in the position they have to be, in the middle of the table, it is a big success for them"