It's take two for our trip to St Mary's, the pre-Christmas attempt to play this game failing due to a Covid-19 outbreak within our squad. And it would be fair to say that tonight's hosts are in better shape now than they were when the original game was scheduled.
In mid-December, Saints had gone six league games without a win and were 15th, six points above the drop zone. Fast-forward four weeks and Southampton are now unbeaten in four and have opened up a ten point gap to the bottom three.
On Boxing Day they registered a 3-2 win away at West Ham United and followed that up with a point at home to Tottenham Hotspur, despite playing 50 minutes with ten men. They did have a much tougher job of things on Saturday in the Emirates FA Cup, playing 61 minutes, plus extra-time, with ten men as they eventually saw off Swansea City 3-2.
James Ward-Prowse (above), who Thomas Frank described as the best free-kick taker in the Premier League earlier this week, has scored in each of Southamton's last three Premier League matches, taking his season tally to five while Chelsea loanee Armando Broja (below) has four goals in seven starts.
Goals have been in short supply at St Mary's this season. The Saints faithful have only seen their side score nine times, the fifth-fewest in the league, but Southampton's eight conceded on home soil is bettered only by Manchester City, Liverpool, and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Writing for Hot Off The Press, The Athletic's Dan Sheldon advises: "[Ralph Hasenhüttl] always sets up the same way, really, with a 4-2-2-2 system. It has two central midfielders, two what he calls No 10s and we would probably call wingers, and two strikers. He has played five at the back at times this season as he has the central defenders to do that, but whether he would set up that way for a home match, I’m not so sure."
Thomas Frank says he has a decision to make at centre-back with Kristoffer Ajer now back in contention following his hamstring injury. Sergi Canos and Mathias Jensen both missed Saturday's Emirates FA Cup victory over Port Vale but are set for a return tonight. David Raya, Julian Jeanvier (both knee), Tariqe Fosu, Zanka, Charlie Goode, Rico Henry (all hamstring), Frank Onyeka (international duty), and Josh Dasilva (hip) are tonight's absentees.
All three of Southampton's regular right-backs, Tino Livramento (injury), Kyle Walker-Peters (suspension) and Yan Valery (suspension), are out, as are Will Smallbone (calf), Thierry Small (Covid) and Moussa Djenepo (international duty). Che Adams (Covid) and Mohammed Salisu (suspension) do return to bolster The Saints ranks.
- James Ward-Prowse is looking to score in four consecutive Premier League matches for the first time in his career. His opener for Southampton against Spurs last time out ended a run of 11 consecutive goals in the competition from either a penalty or direct free-kick situation.
- While this is the first ever top-flight meeting between these clubs, Brentford have won their last two trips to Southampton in all competitions. Both victories have been by a 2-0 scoreline, in December 2010 (League One) and September 2020 (League Cup).
- Southampton have lost just once at home in the Premier League this season (1-0 v Wolves) but have had more home draws than any other side in the competition, with six. Their last three home matches have finished level.
- No team have scored more winning goals in the final 10 minutes of Premier League matches this season than Brentford, with three of the Bees’ six wins coming thanks to such goals.
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 Hasenhüttl told the press this week: "You can see in the past years that there's always one promoted team that does very well, Leeds, Sheffield United, and this season Brentford is by far the best promoted team.
"They took the emotional situation perfectly and performed on a very high level. It's down to a very good work that was based in the years before and I don't think it's a coincidence."
LAST TIME OUT
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Assistant Referees: Adam Nunn and Peter Kirkup
Fourth Official: David Coote
VAR: Peter Bankes
Assistant VAR: Lee Betts
229 fouls - Second-most in Premier League
37 yellow cards - 6th in Premier League
2 red cards - Joint-most in Premier League
All adult supporters must fill in a Covid-19 Self Declaration form before coming tonight and be able to show proof of an NHS COVID Pass or negative test result within the last 48 hours
The away turnstiles are located on the north side of the stadium. Visiting supporters can use K, L or M to access the away stand. The turnstiles will be opened 90 minutes prior to kick-off.
St. Mary’s Stadium is now completely cashless; Southampton accept all major debit and credit cards and mobile payments, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Tonight's game is not live in the UK but will be shown around the world through the Premier League's broadcast partners. Click here to see if the game is on where you are.
Mark Burridge will be bringing live Bees Player commentary from the South Coast. Joining Mark is Mick Cabble.