After a battling performance at St Mary’s on Saturday evening, where despite giving up a two-goal lead, Southampton under Mark Hughes delivered an aggressive, attacking display, seemingly suggesting they were behind their manager and were ready to fight for survival ahead of a packed Christmas fixture list.
Perhaps it was simply inevitable, or it is indicative of how far Manchester United have fallen that drawing with the 13 time Premier League Champions is the straw that broke the camel’s back for Hughes, but Monday morning brought the news that the Welshman had been relieved of his duties; the managerial merry-go-round in the top-flight has just received its second spin of the season.
Southampton’s immediate fixture presents a difficult prospect, with former RB Leipzig manager Ralph Hasenhuttl expected to take the reins on the South Coast, coming up against Arsenal and Tottenham in their next three, though it is the latter under Mauricio Pochettino that had been earmarked by many a Fantasy Premier League manager as a prime captaincy fixture in GW15 for Spurs striker Harry Kane (£12.5m).
Southampton’s recent performances against Fulham and Manchester United had seen them score two goals apiece, despite only getting one point in the process, but the impact of Kelvin Davis taking charge for the game at Wembley, a man who played 271 times for Southampton and truly understands the fabric of the club, could have a considerable impact on the Saints’ performance as they begin to wake up to their Premier League predicament; is Kane still the prime captaincy option for GW15?
Kane’s recent form has seen him rise to fourth in the striker’s standings for points in 2018/19, with three goals and one assist in his last four Premier League games. Despite being humbled at the hands of Arsenal in their 4-2 defeat on Sunday, the return to fitness of all Spurs’ acclaimed front four, Eriksen, Son, Alli and Kane, has given Pochettino and this Spurs squad impetus ahead of their festive fixtures – they are likely to be furious at the result on Sunday, despite being outplayed, and the game against Southampton provides Pochettino’s squad with the opportunity to respond in style.
Davis is likely to send Southampton’s squad a stark reminder of how far this club has fallen, what they as players can do to restore pride and passion to the fan-base, but most importantly Davis will be letting his side know that this restoration starts on Wednesday night. If Southampton were to bounce back with a ferocious, battling performance, Kane’s likelihood of hauling is significantly reduced – could Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.9m) away to a fractured Manchester United side present a more viable captaincy choice?
Aubameyang, at the time of writing, has been transferred in by more than 263,000 FPL managers, after recording a 16 point haul against Spurs – the Gabon international is in the form of his life and United have a documented centre-back crisis, with Nemanja Matic deputising for the game against Southampton.
The argument for Kane would be his elevated ceiling of potential points, yet Auba is firing, with Sunday marking his 10th goal of the season and his third brace – in contrast, Kane has just one brace this season, away at Huddersfield.
As questions remarks remain over the fitness of Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero (£11.4m) after the striker was omitted from the match-day squad with a minor knock, and Pep’s renowned rotation roulette means doubts linger over whether Raheem Sterling (£11.5m) will make the starting XI on Tuesday night, it would appear the captaincy choice for GW15 lies with Kane and Aubameyang – the former has the fixture and the latter has the form, but Southampton’s sacking of Hughes could taint just how plum the Saints at home could be for Harry Kane’s hopes of hitting a double-digit score for just the third time this season.
The impact that Kelvin Davis can have in just over 48 hours will be the true determinant of Southampton’s success at Wembley, and whilst Kane’s notorious ability to fire back-to-back hat-ricks will leave managers wary of not captaining him, on the other side of North London, Aubameyang is beginning to fire up – and his next opponents in Manchester could present a prime fixture for GW15 captaincy.