Mar 15, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT
Norwich City will hope to take advantage of Southampton’s safety by upsetting the Saints at home on Saturday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET online via Live Extra).
Southampton mark the Premier League’s dividing line between comfort and fear. With 42 points, 17 points from the drop, the Saints are clearly safe. But, and as much as many would hate to admit it after Southampton’s fantastic start, they’re also highly unlikely to break into the top six. Southampton are currently six points from a Europa League spot, and the three sides occupying slots 6-8 all have at least one game in hand. In other words, the Saints can use their remaining nine games to experiment, to test younger players and try new formations.
The visitors will be banking on this being the (unlikely) case. Norwich are currently four points above the drop, which seems like quite a big gap this season, but the Canaries are hungry for more. Last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Stoke was a disappointment, particularly as the Potters played the final 12 minutes down a man. With that match following the 4-1 thrashing by Aston Villa, Norwich will be determined to make amends at St. Mary’s.
Chris Hughton has made a host of changes after last week’s draw. Steven Wiattaker and Ryan Bennett step into defense, Johnny Howson is in midfield, and Robert Snodgrass, Anthony Pilkington and Gary Hooper start up top in a 4-3-3.
For the hosts, Gastón Ramírez gets a rather surprising start, his first since January 1. Rickie Lambert is on the bench while Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana are left to shoulder much of the attacking burden – although it rarely seems much of one for them.
Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Schneiderlin, S. Davis, Ward-Prowse, Lallana, Ramírez, Rodriguez
Subs: Gazzaniga, Yoshida, Lambert, Guly, Chambers, Hooiveld, Gallagher
Norwich City: Ruddy; Whittaker, Yobo, R Bennett, Olsson; Tettey, Johnson, Howson; Snodgrass, Pilkington, Hooper
Subs: Bunn, Martin, Bassong, van Wolfswinkel, Hoolahan, Elmander, Redmond
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