August 28, 2015

The darlings of the Premier League last season, Southampton are off to a nightmare start to 2015-16.

Following their stunning midweek elimination from the Europa League, the Saints again go for their first victory of the season Sunday against Norwich City.

Widely celebrated as a refreshing change in the Premier League last season, Southampton (0-2-1) challenged for a Champions League spot before finally settling in to a seventh-place finish.

Despite missing out on Champions League riches and matchdays against the upper echelon of European football, the upstart Saints qualified for Europa League.

That adventure is over before it started, falling 2-1 on aggregate to Midtjylland in the playoff round. They lost 1-0 in Denmark on Thursday, failing to reach the tournament's group stage.

"We need to pick ourselves up," defender Jose Fonte told the team's official website. "Obviously it's hard, with this disappointment, to move on, but there's no alternative ... It's time to focus completely on getting the three points against Norwich.

"Sunday is a massive game and it's one that we need to take the three points from."

Sitting in the drop zone, Southampton haven't started a season winless in their first four league matches since losing the first four of 2012-13.

The Saints settled for a scoreless draw at newly promoted Watford last weekend, despite holding a 5-0 advantage in shots on target.

Graziano Pelle had one of those shots against the Hornets, going a fourth straight match without a goal across all competitions. The Italian striker led Southampton with 16 goals last season, getting 12 at St. Mary's Stadium.

Norwich (1-1-1) and Stoke City exchanged first-half goals in a 1-1 draw last weekend. The Canaries followed that with Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Championship side Rotherham United, advancing to the third round of the League Cup.

Nathan Redmond and Russell Martin should be back in the first team after being rested against The Millers. They lead the club with two goals apiece after Redmond's flicked throughball set up Martin's tally against Stoke.

Norwich striker Lewis Grabban has been suspended by the club until next Tuesday after leaving the team hotel without permission ahead of the win over Rotherham. The 27-year-old Grabban had been the subject of three rejected bids from Bournemouth.

"Lewis Grabban is at the moment suspended until Tuesday," Canaries boss Alex Neil told a Thursday press conference. "It is an ongoing matter and we are investigating the fact he left the hotel without permission.

"The fact is Lewis has been a silly boy and he decided to do what he's done and he'll face the consequences of that. The bottom line is anything that happens at Norwich is not within anybody's power apart from mine and the owners of the club."

Cameron Jerome has only managed to get one of his seven attempts on frame as he struggles to make the transition back to the top flight. The forward led Norwich with 20 goals in the Championship last season.

Southampton striker Sadio Mane's status is unclear after a hip injury forced him to miss the game in Denmark. The injury could create a problem for the midfielder, who is being linked with a move to Manchester United. Victor Wanyama expected to be fit after illness, while Fraser Forster and Ryan Bertrand remain absent with knee injuries.

In addition to Grabban, Norwich will be without the injured Martin Olsson, Youssouf Mulumbu and Kyle Lafferty.

This is the first meeting between these clubs since Southampton beat Norwich 4-2 at home March 15, 2014.

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