Southampton predicted XI vs Stoke City

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Southampton manager Ronald Koeman only has a couple of choices to make ahead of this weekend's fixture against Stoke City.

Although the back-line will almost certainly remain unchanged barring injury, there are a couple of other areas the Dutchman will be considering where a change in personnel might be necessary.

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The central midfield area may require a more physical presence, given the style of play Stoke are likely to adopt, and in the forward line Koeman will have to decide whether to start with Shane Long and Sadio Mane.

Midfielder enforcer required

Although Mark Hughes has got his side playing in a different style to the Tony Pulis days of old, one thing remains the same. The Stoke City team are a well built outfit and any opposition will know they have been in a game at the end of the 90 minutes.

With that in mind, Koeman may be looking to add some steel to the centre of the park this weekend. Jack Cork started last weekend's victory over Sunderland, bagging a goal in the process, but he might just be the man to make way.

Victor Wanyama could take his place and would definitely add some extra resilience to the Southampton midfield. The Kenyan has featured regularly under Ronald Koeman this season and this seems to be the type of game perfectly suited for the former Celtic man.

Although the change might sacrifice some of their fluidity on the ball, Koeman might feel that Wanyama is a better option for the type of game his side are likely to be facing.

Mane to start?

Two of the first names on any Southampton team sheet this season are Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic, and neither is likely to appear amongst the substitutes this time around. However, the third position has been somewhat harder to pin down.

Shane Long started the match against Sunderland and looked more comfortable than he has done so far in his short Saints career. He was replaced in that game though by Sadio Mane, who went on to score in his cameo appearance.

That position is likely to be the only area for Koeman to consider changing in his attack, but with Long's Premier League experience and Mane still adjusting to life in England, the Ireland international is likely to be given the nod.

Predicted starting XI


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