What a time it is to be a Southampton supporter. Second in the Premier League table after the club’s best ever start to a top-flight season, the Saints are the division’s in-form side.
So a trip to Hull City should hold no fear, right?
Maybe it should.
Southampton are understandably 21/20 favourites to win the match, with Hull 13/5 and the draw a 23/10 shot, but the 3/4 on a combination of the latter two outcomes looks like it has plenty of value.
Here are three reasons why the Humbersiders can ensure the Saints head back to the south coast with less than the three points on offer.
Hull have lost just one of their last six Premier League matches.
The Tigers are comfortably in mid-table in 10th position as close points-wise to the European places as they are to the drop zone and are proving themselves a difficult side to beat, losing just one of their last six league matches.
Admittedly, there has only been one win during that sequence – a 2-0 home victory over Crystal Palace – but that run includes creditable draws away at Arsenal and Liverpool and a very admirable display in defeat to Manchester City.
In fact, Steve Bruce’s men have lost just twice all season – only Chelsea and Arsenal have tasted defeat less frequently.
The Tigers have scored at least two goals in six of their last seven.
If a lack of goals undermined Hull’s chances last season – only Crystal Palace and the relegated duo of Cardiff and Norwich found the net on fewer occasions than the Tigers’ total of 38 – then Bruce has gone some way to rectifying that issue if the more recent onus on attack is any proof.
City have scored 13 times in their nine league fixtures, a record only seven teams can better, to improve their strike rate to 1.44 goals per game.
The KC men have scored exactly two goals in six of their last seven games in all competitions, drawing their first blank of the season in the goalless draw at Anfield last time out, and look to have the firepower to give the Southampton backline a tough afternoon.
Both of Southampton’s Premier League defeats have been on the road.
Ronald Koeman’s start as Saints boss has been a sensation, but there are still a few question marks about his team’s away form to be answered before backing them at 21/20 on the road becomes appealing.
Both of the St Mary’s outfit’s league losses have been on their travels at Liverpool and Tottenham, while their two away victories – over an at-the-time out of sorts West Ham and a late, narrow, unconvincing solitary goal win at Swansea – weren’t so conclusive that a trip to Hull should be dismissed so lightly.