The highlight of Tuesday’s Championship fixture list sees a top-of-the-table clash at St. Mary’s between Southampton and Cardiff City.
The Saints are on a poor run of form of late and Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round draw at Millwall means it’s now only four wins in 12 for Nigel Adkins’ side.
However, the 1-1 stalemate at The New Den did see the return of Rickie Lambert, who had missed the last three matches with suspension, and the Championship’s top scorer duly notched his 18th of the campaign to dispel any fears of rustiness.
And Lambert will have a new strike partner too, as free-scoring Billy Sharp signed for Saints yesterday from Doncaster for a fee believed to be just under £2million. He is, however, unavailable for Cardiff’s visit tonight.
Jos Hooiveld is another player missing, as the big Dutch defender is still recovering from the hamstring strain picked up in last week’s defeat to Leicester, though influential pair Richard Chaplow and José Fonte and are fit for selection.
Cardiff, meanwhile, have had the weekend off to recover from their midweek Carling Cup penalty heroics over Crystal Palace and have a fully-fit squad to choose from, with captain Mark Hudson back fit after a calf problem.
History is not on Cardiff’s side. They haven’t won at Southampton since a 5-3 victory at the Dell in October 1962, and have suffered three defeats from their four trips to St. Mary’s, the last two of which ended 1-0.
Bluebirds’ manager Malky Mackay is determined that next month’s Wembley showpiece with Liverpool will not prove a distraction to his side’s league form and the big Scot was also busy in the transfer market yesterday, completing the signing of highly-rated 18-year-old winger Kadeem Harris from Wycombe Wanderers.
The Welsh side have proved stubborn opposition on their travels this season, suffering just two defeats, the last of which was in October at Peterborough. They have, however, drawn eight of their 14 away fixtures to date.
This record, coupled with Southampton’s poor recent home form (only one win in four after 21 consecutive victories prior to that), makes the draw the sensible outcome at St. Mary’s at a price of 23/10 in bwin’s 3way market. The Saints are 19/20 favourites, while Cardiff are 14/5.
But with that said, history is not on Cardiff’s side. They haven’t won at Southampton since a 5-3 victory at the Dell in October 1962, and have suffered three defeats from their four trips to St. Mary’s, the last two of which ended 1-0.
A similar outcome tomorrow is priced at 7/1, a result worth £200 for any daring customers using their free £25 bet to successfully back this scoreline.
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