Wins over Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea in the second half of the season have had Southampton fans and football pundits heaping praise on Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino of late.
And, with the south-coast club putting together a six-game unbeaten run in March and April, it is easy to see why the St Mary’s outfit were being overlooked as relegation candidates.
However, after failing to score in three successive games and collecting just one of the last nine available points, trips to the Etihad, Stamford Bridge and Anfield could soon be replaced by away days at Bournemouth, Doncaster and Ipswich for Pochettino’s men.
Southampton currently sit on 39 points with two games to go and could be leapfrogged by fellow strugglers Sunderland this weekend, should they fail to score again and lose at the Stadium of Light.
With Wigan currently occupying the final relegation spot, but seemingly poised to go on their customary end-of-season run, there are nervy times ahead for both Southampton and Sunderland.
Ironically, despite top scorer Steven Fletcher being sidelined through injury and Danny Graham yet to open his Black Cats account, Sunderland have netted in nine of their last ten games, helping Paolo Di Canio halt an eight-game winless run under Martin O’Neill to pick up seven of 15 available points.
Di Canio’s men showed a fighting spirit that was not evident under O’Neill to salvage a point when down to 10 men against Stoke last time out and, if they can avoid a third red card in as many games this weekend, look good value for the win at 13/10.
Southampton’s lack of firepower of late sees them priced as the 2/1 outsiders, while the draw offers odds of 12/5 – tempting when you consider that three of the last ten meetings have ended all square and the six of the other seven have been settled by a single goal.
Those expecting another tight affair could be swayed by the 31/10 which says the Mackems will win by a single goal, while Saints fans can back the reverse result at 19/5.
However, with Sunderland’s knack of finding the back of the net coming at a time when Southampton cannot buy a goal, the 7/1 being offered on a 1-0 home win looks to be the bet of the day.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.