Saturday 30/8/15, St Mary’s Stadium, 13:30pm
Odds: Southampton 19/20, Norwich 27/10, The Draw 5/2
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Last three meetings
Southampton 4-2 Norwich
Norwich 1-0 Southampton
Norwich 0-0 Southampton
2015/16 domestic form
Southampton: Jordie Clasie, Florin Gardos, Ryan Bertrand, Fraser Forster
Norwich: Youssouff Mulumbu, Martin Olsson
Southampton: Victor Wanyama, Gaston Ramirez
Norwich: Kyle Lafferty
Win, Lose or Draw?
A familiar narrative accompanies Norwich’s visit to the south coast, that of the Europa League mini-breakers and their tendency to struggle with the domestic duties that follow their return to Blighty.
Received wisdom is that if there’s ever a time to play those on the Ryanair of continental excursions it’s now and Norwich will be licking their lips.
Southampton have twice failed to win the Premier League game which followed a Thursday night encounter already this term and their latest trip (to Denmark) was the lengthiest to date.
The Canaries have already won away against Sunderland and the fact that they’ve yet to be shut out since their top-flight return vouches for their ability to pierce Southampton’s patched-up rearguard.
Still to experience the soul-crushing weight of a prolonged losing streak in the highest echelon, Alex Neill’s men are more than capable of justifying what looks a value win price of 27/10.
Yet, Southampton weren’t defeated in the outings that followed the brace of qualifying victories over Vitesse and, unlike on those occasions, they will have home advantage to fall back on against the East Anglians.
Who’s going to score?
Those interested in backing one of Ronald Koeman’s troops to find the net need look no further than those likely to profit from set pieces.
Norwich have shipped goals from dead balls in all three of their Premier League games to date and even in their Capital One Cup encounter with Rotherham.
Anytime-scorer favourite Graziano Pelle (7/5) will rightfully have his backers, but the Saints’ centre-halves are where the value is, with Jose Fonte and Steven Caulker both available at 10/1.
Of the pair, Caulker is the more likely to notch (having bagged five in one campaign for Cardiff two seasons back) but less likely to start, so a decision between the two should be made nearer the off.
Among the Norwich players, another defender, Russell Martin has already struck twice this term and looks excellent long-shot territory at 27/2.
If the last two advocated wagers seem slightly at odds with one another then they needn’t be, with Norwich railing against their inability to keep a clean sheet in the early weeks of their Premier League existence.
Since shipping three to Crystal Palace on the opening day, they’ve only tightened up to the extent of allowing their subsequent trio of foes a goal apiece.
Luckily for them they’ve yet to be denied either, netting at least once in all four outings to date and they should find a travel-softened Southampton in giving mood.
After allowing two then three goals in their first two Premier League games, Koeman was moved to opt for a deeply conservative 3-5-2 away to a tame Watford attack in their most recent league game.
At home and with no more Europa League to conserve energy for they should play more freely, allowing that defensive laxity to return.
What else should I be backing?
Early goals have been a feature of both sides’ games this term, with Southampton conceding five times between the 22nd minute and half-time in their last five outings.
Norwich have struck four times in during the same time window over their past three fixtures, with three goals landing between the quarter hour and 30 minutes.