If most football fans were asked which of Manchester City or Southampton topped the following statistics – shots inside the box and shots on target – across the opening eight games of the season, the majority would understandably go for the Citizens.
However, this answer would in fact be wrong, as it is Claude Puel’s Saints that are proving the most productive at fashioning accurate chances inside the box.
The issue for the Saints is that to go with their Premier League-high 53 shots on target and 88 opportunities inside opponents’ boxes, they have the worst shots-to-goals conversion rate in the top flight. They have taken only 6.8% of their chances, including drawing blanks in a half of their road fixtures so far.
Up next is what on paper appears to be one of their toughest assignments of the season away Man City, even if Pep Guardiola’s team come into this on a run of form representing a mini disaster. They have failed to win in four games across all competitions.
Even so, the match betting for the Etihad clash has the hosts as the 1/2 favourites, with Southampton 11/2 and the draw priced up at 18/5.
But the greater chance to turn over a profit exists in the markets relating to Southampton scoring. After all, City have only kept a solitary clean sheet this season, conceding against each of the teams to start the weekend in the bottom three – Sunderland, Swansea and Stoke.
None of these clubs possess close to the attacking threat of the Saints and so it is difficult to anticipate Puel’s men failing to trouble the scorers, even taking into account their general wastefulness in front of goal across their opening eight matches.
It is 4/6 that Southampton net at least once at the Etihad, with 10/3 a fairly attractive price that the south-coast club score a minimum of two. Alternatively, both teams scoring is available at 17/20 and over 2.5 goals in the match is another 4/6 shot.
Nathan Redmond has the pace to be a threat on the counter attack and needs to become more prolific, having taken just one of his 16 attempts across Southampton’s last four league fixtures.
He is 10/1 to break the deadlock and 16/5 to score at anytime in the 90 minutes.
Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing