Saints look super on Sunday
Our Andy Schooler is siding with Southampton and Chelsea in Sunday's Premier League games.
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The Saints, beaten just three times in 16 league outings, look more than capable of getting something from their trip to Newcastle.
And there is evidence to suggest Manchester City could suffer a rare home defeat when Chelsea arrive at the Etihad.
Here's our game-by-game preview:
- 2.5pts Southampton-Draw in double chance market at 4/5 (188bet) - Just three defeats in 16 and Newcastle struggle after Euro exertions.
- 1pt Rickie Lambert to score first for Southampton at 15/4 (bet365) - Has managed this in six of Saints' last eight away games.
- 1pt Chelsea to beat Man City at 10/3 (General) - The better teams have caused City's defence problems. Worth a punt given City's recent struggles.
Manchester City v Chelsea (1330 GMT)
Here's a stat that helps show exactly why Manchester City's title defence has crashed against the rocks this season - they have conceded at home to all five of the current top-seven sides they have faced so far. Subsequently they have won just one of those five matches. The remaining member of that top seven, Chelsea, arrive at the Etihad on Sunday and may just represent some value at 10/3. Granted, City's home record remains impressive - it shuld be remembered only local rivals United have won here since 2010 - but as highlighted teams have started to pick up the odd point here and there and it's certainly fair to say the hosts do not invincible as they once did. Liverpool really gave them a torrid time in their last league outing on home soil (they were unlucky not to win) and that should fill Chelsea with confidence as they head north. The Blues rested key men such as Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic on Thursday for their Europa League tie and look sure to make a whole host of changes for this one. They will be back to full strength but City look set to be without both Vincent Kompany (again) and Gareth Barry, weakening their defensive capabilities further. The atmosphere surrounding City is simply not very positive at present - Roberto Mancini was even swearing in frustration at Friday's press conference as questions about his future continued - so all in all this looks a good time to oppose them. As we've pointed out in recent times, Chelsea have goals in them - they've scored at least twice in six of their last seven domestic outings - so they look worth a small-stakes punt at 10/3 in this one.
Verdict: Manchester City 1 Chelsea 2
Newcastle v Southampton (1330)
Fair play to Southampton's players and new manager. It looked as if things could go belly up at St Mary's when Nigel Adkins was axed last month but they've continued their good form by beating Manchester City and drawing with Everton. Their only loss under Mauricio Pochettino came at Old Trafford where they took the lead and were described by Sir Alex Ferguson as "the best team to play here this season" for their second-half display. It's now just three defeats in 16 for the Saints in the league, who in recent times have won at Aston Villa and only been denied three points on their travels by 90th-minutes equalisers from Stoke and Wigan. In short, a trip to St James' Park should hold no fears. It also appears to be a good time to be playing Newcastle, for the Magpies had a round trip of more than 3,500 miles in midweek as they won away to Metalist Kharkiv. They have the likes of Chieck Tiote and Yoan Gouffran set to return for this one but the fact is several players who made that trip will be involved. Sadly for them injured keeper Tim Krul will not be one of them. Newcastle have won just twice in league games immediately after Europa League matches this season with their disappointing results including a home defeat to West Ham and a convincing 2-0 loss in the reverse fixture at St Mary's. In short, Southampton deserve to be backed and I'll do so by getting them and the draw onside in the double-chance market at 4/5. A return to a market mentioned on these pages before is also recommended. Rickie Lambert has now scored Southampton's first goal in six of their last eight away games. He's 15/4 to add to that run here which looks too good to turn down. He is the visitors' leading scorer with more than the double the number of goals of his nearest team-mate and takes penalties.
Verdict: Newcastle 1 Southampton 2
- The Manchster City-Chelsea game is being televised live in the UK on Sky Sports.