Champion League

Martin drops Adams in Southampton’s predicted lineup vs Blackburn

Southampton have now extended their unbeaten run in the Championship to 13 matches, despite picking up successive draws away from home to stop a lengthy winning streak.

Russell Martin’s Saints have won six of their last ten matches in the division, putting themselves firmly in the promotion reckoning as a result.

Blackburn Rovers are the visitors to the south coast this Saturday, with Martin’s men keen to add another win to their season tally at the expense of Jon Dahl Tomasson’s entertaining Riversiders.

The Southampton boss could reshuffle his side slightly for the task of overcoming Dahl Tomasson’s men from Lancashire, with Che Adams one of a number of first-teamers potentially facing the chop.

Here’s how the Saints could line up for the game tomorrow…

GK – Gavin Bazunu

 Southampton's Gavin Bazunu

Gavin Bazunu should retain his spot in between the sticks for the home game, the Irish shot-stopper signed from Manchester City in the summer keeping back-to-back clean sheets at St Mary’s before his side picked up two subsequent away draws.

RB – Kyle Walker-Peters


Kyle Walker-Peters will also start versus Blackburn, the Saints right-back has barely put a foot wrong all season which has meant he’s been everpresent in Martin’s side in the Championship.

CB – Taylor Harwood-Bellis


Taylor Harwood-Bellis’ reputation in the game continues to increase with the Saints, the Man City loanee excelling in the second tier once again after a promising loan switch to Burnley last campaign.

The 21-year-old’s display in the away draw at Watford was particularly impressive, winning all but one of his duels in the 1-1 contest, as per Sofascore.

CB – Jan Bednarek


Southampton’s more experienced centre-back option will also start the Blackburn game, the ever-reliable Jan Bednarek a colossus in the second tier to date.

The Polish defender was a standout performer at the back versus Coventry last game, accurate with 96% of his passes in a calm display.

LB – Ryan Manning


Ryan Manning should be the final part of an unchanged defence for Martin, the ex-Swansea City defender important for the Saints this campaign.

Manning’s threat from down the channels stood out against the Sky Blues at the CBS Arena, accurate with two crosses in the game in an attempt to assist a Saints forward to gain a win.

CM – Joe Aribo


The first switch in personnel Martin will ponder over is axing Shea Charles from his lineup potentially, the Saints splashing the cash on the former Man City man in the summer by paying £15m to land his services.

He was below-par away at Coventry mid-week however – only winning three of his eight duels – and so could be sacrificed for Aribo to be pushed back into a more comfortable central midfield slot.

Aribo played behind Adam Armstrong in an advanced role against Mark Robins’ men, but is far more suited to a deeper central midfield role – scoring 11 times from this position when playing for Rangers before switching to the Saints.

CM – Will Smallbone


Martin will toy with the idea of starting Flynn Downes for this contest – Downes missing from the Coventry match owing to illness – but risking a star player feels unnecessarily risky when you have Will Smallbone to fall back on.

Smallbone was excellent in Southampton’s last second-tier match in mid-week, 100% successful with his ground duels.

Therefore, Martin might not need to bring Downes back into the starting lineup immediately especially if the West Ham United loanee isn’t at full freshness just yet.

CM – Stuart Armstrong


The creativity potentially lacking from the side with Downes out won’t be as noticeable with Stuart Armstrong present in the starting eleven, the ex-Dundee United man enjoying a fine season to date at St Mary’s.

The ageing Scotsman wasn’t at his free-flowing best away at Coventry – losing possession 20 times – but he’s done more than enough in other games this campaign to make that third central midfield spot his own.

Creating four big chances this campaign dictating play in the middle, Martin will hope Armstrong can be at his creative best up against tricky opponents in Blackburn tomorrow.

AM – Carlos Alcaraz


In place of Aribo being moved back, Carlos Alcaraz could be given a start by Martin for the home game against the Riversiders.

The Argentine attacker hasn’t really gotten into his groove in the second tier for the Saints this season – only helping himself to a single goal in league action – but he was impressive nonetheless when substituted on against Coventry.

Winning three out of three ground duels from a rowdy eight minutes on the pitch, Alcaraz could be the aggressive and forward-thinking figure Martin wants to get his team firing again and beating teams with ease instead of settling for draws.

AM – Samuel Edozie


In the other attacking midfielder spot, Martin could axe Adams for Samuel Edozie who made even more of an impact last game than Alcaraz when introduced.

Edozie would ensure the Saints travelled back to the South Coast with a share of the spoils, hammering home an effort after an Adam Armstrong nod-on found him ready to fiercely fire a strike.

Edozie’s skilful reputation in the game has even seen him branded with the label of being an “eye-catcher” according to football pundit Adrian Clarke on What the EFL?! Podcast, who hyped up the youngster at the start of August before the season had properly got underway.

Adams will be sacrificed to make way for Edozie to come in, the ex-Birmingham City man not even registering one shot on goal before Edozie was substituted on.

ST – Adam Armstrong


Armstrong didn’t fire in another goal last game, but the former Newcastle United attacker remains Martin’s starting striker regardless.

The 26-year-old was still a nuisance for Coventry defenders to contain at the CBS Arena, assisting Edozie’s crucial equaliser by heading the ball into the 20-year-old’s path to convert.

The ex-Magpies man won’t want to watch back the highlights as he could have been even more of a hero with a late away strike in this one, snatching at a late effort that – on another day – would have cannoned into the back of the net.

Armstrong won’t be anxious about where his next goal will come from however, eager to pick up his 13th goal of the Championship season when Dahl Tomasson’s Riversiders come to town.

Southampton Predicted XI in full vs Blackburn: GK – Bazunu; RB – Walker-Peters, CB – Harwood-Bellis, CB – Bednarek, LB – Manning: CM – Smallbone, CM – Aribo, CM – S Armstrong; AM – Alcaraz, AM – Edozie; ST A Armstrong

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