A European distraction could benefit the Saints
Southampton v Manchester City, Sunday 4.30pm, Sky Sports 1
Manchester City’s hard fought draw against Real Madrid on Tuesday night at the Etihad Stadium, means Manuel Pellegrini’s men have a genuine chance of being in the Champions League final should they get a result in Spain on Wednesday.
It would therefore be no surprise if the Citizens had one eye on that clash when they travel to St Mary’s Stadium to face Southampton, and that makes the price of around the Saints catch our eye.
But there’s more logic to this punt that simply thinking that Man City might be prioritising Wednesday’s clash. Yes, Pellegrini may rest Sergio Aguero or Kevin De Bruyne and that can only help our cause, but Southampton’s form is also well worth considering.
Since Christmas Southampton have picked up 19 points from a possible 24 at home, a last minute goal from Branislav Ivanovich in February meant Chelsea are the only side to win away at Southampton in the league since Tottenham in mid-December.
Ronald Koeman’s side have won six of the last eight at home and kept four clean sheets along the way, and while a Europa League spot still looks as improbable as Kim Kardashian keeping her clothes on, the Saints can keep up their march towards a top six finish.
In the calendar year both Southampton and Man City have played 16 league matches, with the Saints posting a marginally better record. They’ve picked up 30 points since January 1 – third in the 2016 table behind Leicester and Tottenham – with Manchester City winning 28 points.
A key part of Southampton’s surge in form has been the hot streak of striker Shane Long – and that purple patch will almost certainly mean he can lead the mighty Irish to Euro 2016 glory, right? Before we get too carried away with ourselves on this cocktail of nostalgia, pints and dreams, Shane Long has been very kind to punters in 2016.
A £10 punt on the Irishman to score first every week in the league this year would have left you with a cool £150 profit in your pocket – and he’s bagged the opening goal in four of Southampton’s last eight games.
Long is a shot to open the scoring on Saturday, or a slightly more conservative to score at anytime. It’s a tempting punt that Long is on the scoresheet in a Southampton win in a punt that isn’t really as crazy as it might sounds. City’s away from against the top half of the table reads won one, drawn three, lost four this season and Southampton can take advantage of a European distraction to pick up all three points.