They may not come across as hell-raising anti-establishmentarians, but Southampton are going against a few grains of convention.
First of all, they’re making a mockery of the theory that the Championship is the hardest division to get out of. And secondly, without wishing to hex them, Nigel Adkins’ men have kept up the pace after getting off to a flyer.
Plenty of early league leaders fade and die going into the business end of the season, but after occupying the automatic promotion spots for virtually all of the campaign, the Saints are still moving through the gears.
Unbeaten in nine and having won four of their last five, the south-coast club sit top of the pile after 36 games – two points clear of Reading in second and a further point ahead of West Ham in third.
But with ten games still to play, Southampton need to keep their foot to the floor to maintain their lofty position and they have a presentable opportunity this weekend to pick up another three points when they travel to relegation-threatened Millwall.
The Lions lie in 19th spot, six points clear of the bottom three, but with just two wins in nine they are in danger of being sucked right into the mire.
Southampton are making a mockery of the theory that the Championship is the hardest division to get out of. And secondly, without wishing to hex them, Nigel Adkins’ men have kept up the pace after getting off to a flyer.
To make the prospect of Southampton’s visit even more unpalatable, Kenny Jackett’s men have lost five of their last six at home – scoring just twice in the process – which is why bwin’s 3Way football betting market has the Saints as 21/20 favourites for the win, with Milwall at 5/2 and the draw at 9/4.
Indeed, only Nottingham Forest and Bristol City have lost more times at home than Millwall this season, meaning the a trip into the ‘Lions’ Den’ should hold no fear for a side that have conceded just one goal in their last five away fixtures.
So far, all evidence suggests a Southampton win – but before you lump all your hard-earned on the Saints to go marching on in south-east London, there are a few caveats.
Despite leading the pack, Southampton have won just six away games all season in the Championship and were held at the New Den in the FA Cup before Millwall won the replay at St Mary’s.
However, I am confident these cup clashes should largely be ignored as an indicator for this weekend’s meeting and with promotion back to the Premier League the priority, I expect Southampton to pick up another three points.
Millwall at home and Southampton away have each been drawing at half-time on eight occasions this season and the half-time draw at 23/20 could be a decent bet, but more so if you suffix that with the Southampton win by full-time at 17/4.
This view is reinforced by the amount of goals they’ve scored during the first 45 minutes of their matches, with the hosts having scored just eight and let in nine at home and Southampton scoring eleven and conceding just five.
Along the same theme, then, more goals to be scored in the second half of the match than in the first looks a dead cert at presentable odds of 23/20.
Otherwise, it’s slight variations on the Saints win which are likely to attract interest, with the visitors to win to nil at 12/5, to win a game of over 2.5 goals being 23/10 and to win a game of under 2.5 goals at 9/5.
But my bet for the day, at an extremely long 17/2, is for Southampton to win 2-0, which seems well thought out given the respective home and away form of the sides and Millwall’s paucity of goals on their own patch.
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Match to contain more goals in second half than in first @ 23/20 Southampton to win after drawn first half @ 17/4 Southampton to win 2-0 @ 17/2
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