When the draw for the third round of the FA Cup was made pre-Christmas, Southampton must have been pretty happy with being pitted against a Coventry side who were rock bottom of the Championship table.
However, in the intervening period, the two sides’ respective fortunes have begun to change.
The day before the draw, the Sky Blues had suffered a 2-1 defeat away to Portsmouth and would go on to lose their next two fixtures as well to cement their place at the foot of the table.
But the Christmas period was far kinder to them as they recorded back-to-back home wins for the first time since last April to ensure they weren’t cast adrift at the bottom.
These two wins were followed by a 1-0 defeat to West Ham on Monday, but despite this, Andy Thorn’s men will be far more confident of avenging their 4-2 league defeat to Southampton now than when the draw was originally made.
Southampton’s struggle for goals of late has seen them fail to score in each of their last four defeats, including their previous two fixtures, whereas Coventry have kept clean sheets in their four wins this campaign.
Despite still being top of the Championship table, the Saints have only won once on their travels since August (the 4-2 win over Coventry) and are on a run of just one victory in their last six matches.
The recent results for the two sides are reflected in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, where the home side are at 3/1 to win on Saturday. Southampton are installed as favourites at 91/100, but those odds would surely have been shorter if this game was played six weeks ago.
The chance of a victory for the home side at the Ricoh Arena is given more credence after a look at how the goals have begun to dry up for the league leaders.
Southampton have averaged 1.88 goals a game over the course of the season, but the average return for the last six games is just 0.83, a significant drop for a side that had been scoring goals for fun.
Despite this dip, Southampton are still odds-on to score at some point on Saturday at 9/50, even though top scorer Rickie Lambert will be banned after his red card in the 3-0 defeat at Brighton.
With most of the odds on Coventry winning being a touch shorter than they should be, it may be worth putting your money on City to pull off the win with a clean sheet at 21/4. As unlikely as this may sound, there is evidence to back up my theory.
Southampton’s struggle for goals of late has seen them fail to score in each of their last four defeats, including their previous two fixtures, whereas Coventry have kept clean sheets in their four wins this campaign, including the two home victories recorded over Christmas.
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