Southampton take on Middlesbrough this weekend in the hope of maintaining their three-point lead at the top of the Championship against a side that has been stumbling of late, but kept third place with an impressive win over Derby County last weekend.
Form would have us go for a entertaining and potentially high-scoring game – Boro have won four of their six games thus far on the road (they are 3/1 to make that five), while striker Marvin Emnes renewed his acquaintance with the back of the net last week with a well-taken header.
There is frankly no need to remind anybody of Southampton’s attacking potential, unless of course they have been living in a cave. The Saints have plundered 28 goals in their 13 league matches, while also conceding 14 in total. With that in mind, both teams scoring looks to be a solid short-price punt at football betting odds of 13/20.
That said, there is the strange feeling that, being a tough game at the top, both teams might just be caught out by their nerves and fail to amass the score we’d expect from them. A draw is hardly a ridiculous proposition at 5/2, with a 1-1 scoreline the most likely in terms of the spoils being shared at 11/2.
Middlesbrough are down to four options in attack (to the point of throwing new signing Bartholomew Ogbeche off the bench and into the mix against the Rams), whilst ex-Rangers man Kevin Thomson wasn’t risked at the weekend and might just miss out once more.
Furthermore, Boro have conceded a mere six goals in their last 11 ties, with three consecutive 0-0 draws featuring in that sequence. Although another goalless affair seems a little improbable at 33/4, how about 29/4 for a 1-0 home win, which incidentally was the scoreline by which the Saints beat West Ham recently?
Captain Dean Hammond was sent off in last weekend’s draw with Reading, but his absence might just be good news for the Saints, seeing as he gifted a free-kick which resulted in a goal before receiving his marching orders for a clumsy lunge!
It might be worth taking a quick look at the half-time/full-time scores, where a half-time draw/Saints win fetches odds of 4/1. If, as expected, Tony Mowbray’s men prove obdurate opponents, it may take the hosts until after the interval to make the breakthrough.
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An alternative approach, but along the same theme, would be going for the Saints scoring more in the second half than the first at 7/5. They have, after all, scored nearly 22% of their goals this season in the last ten minutes.
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