Southampton will be looking to end their poor run of form in the Premier League when they travel to Elland Road to face Leeds United on Tuesday night, and one way in which Ralph Hasenhuttl can turn his side’s fortunes around is by restoring Stuart Armstrong to the starting lineup.
The Scottish international, who reportedly earns £50k per week at Southampton, missed the draw with Chelsea, with the Austrian manager suggesting that it was one game too many for the midfielder, but it looks as if he is in contention to return on Tuesday evening.
Although the Saints halted their run of defeats with a draw against Chelsea at St Mary’s in the absence of Armstrong, his recent performances have been excellent, and he deserves to start against Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
The 28-year-old’s work rate and tenacity in midfield mean that he could also have a big impact on the game from a defensive point of view, especially as he would most likely be up against one of Leeds’ most dangerous attacking players in Jack Harrison should he feature on the right-hand side of Southampton’s midfield at Elland Road.
The on-loan Manchester City man has contributed six goals and four assists in the Premier League this season, averaging a solid 6.96 rating, which ranks him as Leeds’ joint-fifth best performer in the top-flight, so it seems clear that he will be a danger to Southampton on Tuesday.
Therefore, restoring Armstrong to the Southampton lineup could be a smart move by Hasenhuttl, as the Scot has impressed with his tackling and interception numbers this season, despite playing as a winger.
We also saw in the game against Wolves recently how effective he can be from an attacking point of view, as he dribbled past several opponents before providing a perfect cross for Danny Ings to score, and it is his offensive contributions that arguably give him the edge over Moussa Djenepo, who has struggled for goals and assists since arriving from Standard Liege.
Therefore, if Armstrong is fit to make the squad on Tuesday night, then Hasenhuttl must consider starting him on the wing, as he could hold the key to the Saints earning their first Premier League win since early January.
And, in other news… Moussa Djenepo will be worried if Saints sign £15m wonderkid this summer