Southampton have an opportunity to open up a six-point advantage at the top of the Championship on Friday in the first encounter of an action-packed bank holiday weekend…
The most testing spell of Southampton’s expectation-defying season was prompted by a 2-0 defeat to Bristol City last month, however their 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Boxing Day indicated that they may be back on track again.
Their visitors meanwhile haven’t won since that heroic triumph over the leaders which had marked a fifth game unbeaten, following it with two draws against fellow strugglers and three losses, the last the worst of all at bottom club Coventry.
Given that the Saints are the best hosts in the division, collecting 34 of the 36 points up for grabs at St Mary’s, it is no surprise that they are 2/5 favourites.
Top-versus-fourth-bottom may sound like whitewash territory but Bristol City aren’t the sort of side who suffer humiliatingly heavy defeats, at least not since Derek McInnes stepped into the dugout.
Their three recent setbacks, and eight of their ten since September, all came by just a one-goal margin, as did Southampton’s two wins at home to bottom-six teams, so 5/2 is a tempting price on Nigel Adkins’ men winning by one.
Bristol City have failed to score in three of their four December fixtures to date when facing far less impressive defences, so 1-0 Southampton holds plenty of appeal at 6/1, while they are 1/1 to simply prevail without conceding.
Rickie Lambert wasn’t among the scorers against Crystal Palace on Monday but has gone two or more home games without a goal only once all season, so has to be fancied to get back on track by breaking the deadlock at 3/1.