Opposition View: Matt Le Tissier

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Saints legend previews Saturday's trip to St. Mary's.

Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier believes there aren’t enough characters like Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio in the game.

Le Tissier spoke to safc.com ahead of Saturday’s clash between his former club and the Black Cats and he believes the Italian, who he played against on four occasions in his career, has a fiery and bubbly character that lights up the Barclays Premier League.

“He was pretty unpredictable as a player and he’s carried that on as a manager,” Le Tissier said.

“As a player he was brilliant; he is a real character and at a time when the game is far too short of them it’s pleasing to see Paolo in the Barclays Premier League.”

Le Tissier covered Sunderland’s 1-0 home defeat to Fulham at the weekend for Sky Sports and he says there were plenty of positives for Di Canio’s side to take ahead of the trip to St. Mary’s.

“I thought the result was a little bit unfair on Sunderland,” he added. “Sunderland had all the possession and I always felt they were in control.

“Fulham scored with their only shot but I think Sunderland will rue the fact they didn’t create enough clear cut chances.

“The best chance they had was probably the 30-yard shot that Celustka had.”

And Le Tissier, who made 540 appearances for Southampton, feels Sunderland’s success will largely be down to how quickly they can get Steven Fletcher fit after he suffered an ankle injury whilst on international duty with Scotland in March.

“I think Fletcher coming back is key to Sunderland’s hopes of success,” Le Tissier continued. “Altidore worked very hard at the weekend and caused Fulham problems but he isn’t an out and out goal-scorer.

“I thought the wide players Giaccherini and Johnson had decent games against Fulham and got some good deliveries into the box so if you get Fletcher on the end of them you’ll get goals.”

The former England international pinpointed young full-back Luke Shaw and the in-form Rickie Lambert as the biggest threats to Sunderland at the weekend.

“Southampton are pretty decent all round in fairness,” he explained. “Luke Shaw at full back is a powerful runner and he gets up to support the attacks well.

“Of course, Rickie Lambert is on fire at the minute and he’ll be a constant threat to the Sunderland defence.

“I think Southampton have every chance of a top 10 finish – last year we finished 14th after a terrible start when it took us five games to get to three points.

“We’ve got that figure already this year so there’s every possibility of a good campaign.”