It’s a top-of-the-table clash in the Championship on Saturday as leaders Southampton travel to Pride Park to take on third-placed Derby County with a three-point lead over their hosts – a margin I think could have disappeared come 5pm.
Southampton are even money with bwin to secure an away win, with the draw priced at 23/10, but it is the odds on the home win that grab my interest.
At 13/5, Derby are just too big to beat a Saints team whose tremendous performances in front of their own fans are masking their frailties away from fortress St. Mary’s.
Southampton have a 100% home record, winning five out of five, but it has been a slightly different tale on their travels. A 2-1-2 record is respectable enough, but those two wins have come at struggling Barnsley and inconsistent Ipswich, and Southampton have picked up just one point from their last three away outings, which include defeats at Leicester and Cardiff.
While plenty of teams will struggle to win at those grounds, it is concerning that they have lost both matches away at potential promotion contenders and I’ll want a bit more proof that manager Nigel Adkins’ attacking philosophy isn’t too naïve against the division’s better sides.
The Saints have conceded eight away goals already – only eight teams have conceded more – with just one clean sheet and I feel Derby can take advantage.
The Rams have lost just once at home (unluckily to Burnley), winning three, but have plenty of firepower (their ten home goals is bettered only by Peterborough and Southampton themselves) and are definitely the value call at 13/5 to continue their long-time-coming revival under Nigel Clough.
One thing that does look likely, however, is goals. Four of Derby’s five home matches this season have produced over 2.5 goals, while Southampton’s away matches are averaging 3.6 goals a match.
Derby are yet to fail to score at home this term, and likewise Southampton have scored in each of their away trips. There can’t be anything other than goals, can there?
With this in mind, the goals markets are interesting. You aren’t going to get rich by backing over 2.5 goals at 13/20 (nor both teams to score at 53/100) but there are decent alternatives.
Over 3.5 goals is 31/20 and if you really fancy goals, over 4.5 goals is 18/5. But the 4/1 that there are over 2.5 goals in a Derby win looks like a shout to me – it is pretty inconceivable both teams won’t score and I feel that Derby will have the edge.
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