Southampton host Stoke on the final day of this season’s Premier League and both sides still have plenty to play for with valuable prize money at stake.
A tenth-place finish is the highest position that these two teams can achieve, with 17th the lowest, and the difference in the respective rewards on offer means this tie is unlikely to be played as merely a dead rubber.
With a healthy £8.3m on offer for the 10th placed team as opposed to £3m for the side finishing just above the trap door, there’s a strong financial incentive to finish the campaign well.
And in Rickie Lambert, the hosts possess a talisman whose displays of courage, guile and no shortage of skill have helped to fire the Saints to safety.
The prolific frontman has netted 14 times during his debut Premier League campaign and he’s available at 6/5 to score at any time with 9/2 the price for Lambert to open proceedings.
Nine of those strikes have come against teams in the current bottom-half of the table, including the opener in the reverse fixture against the Potters in December.
At 4/5, Southampton are good value to triumph against opposition who’ve won just twice on the road this term, scoring the second-lowest number of goals (12) away from home.
A brief late season fillip has saved Tony Pulis’ visitors from a potentially disastrous final day scrap.
However, two recent wins only papered over the cracks. Three victories in their previous 18 Premier League encounters is an alarming wider trend that has contributed to pressure on the manager from fans of the Staffordshire club.
An inability to capitalise on early advantages has been the root cause of Stoke’s latest woes.
Having led at half-time against both Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur in recent weeks, the most they could muster was a solitary point.
With the visitors in such shaky form and Southampton prone to giving up the odd goal (sixth-worst defence in the league), the 7/1 for Stoke to lead at half-time and not win could well be the bet of the day.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.