From September 2010 through to September 2012, Southampton lost just three times at home and while their form hasn’t been as good in the Premier League, the ‘St Mary’s factor’ should give them great confidence when they host Reading in a crucial relegation six-pointer this weekend.
However, Brian McDermott can draw confidence from the fact that the Royals were one of those sides to inflict a defeat on the Saints on their home turf, having clinched a victory on the south coast in April as both teams eventually secured promotion from the Championship.
It is Southampton who head into their latest meeting on the better run of form having lost just once in five, while Reading’s dramatic 4-3 defeat against Manchester United was their third on the bounce.
As such, the home side are odds-on favourites at 9/10 in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, while the visitors are 3/1 and the draw is a 13/5 chance.
With both sides in desperate need of points, this could turn into a typically tight relegation tussle similar to Reading’s recent 1-0 loss to fellow strugglers Aston Villa or Saints’ 1-1 draw at home to Norwich City last time out, making draw/draw at half-time/full-time or 0-0 at half-time both good value at 17/4 and 11/5 repectively.
However, that would go against the style in which Nigel Adkins’ team have approached games so far this season, having kept just one clean sheet all campaign.
So Reading will fancy their chances of not just scoring at 17/50 but getting the opening goal at 27/20, as they did in the corresponding fixture last season.
On that occasion, the Royals emerged 3-1 winners and a repeat scoreline on Saturday would see new customers using the free £20 bet available when registering with bwin net an incredible £580.
Yet in order to emerge victorious, Reading would have to do something they haven’t done yet this season – keep it tight away from home.
With the Royals’ recent run of conceding eight goals in their last three games, McDermott will need to perform some miracles on the training ground to stop Southampton scoring in both halves at 33/20.
Given the holes in either sides’ back lines, the attacking talent on show – including last season’s Championship top scorer Rickie Lambert and five-goal Adam Le Fondre – will surely fancy their chances of putting away four goals or more at 8/5.
But as Saints are the side in form and have home advantage, I’m backing them to get the best of a five-goal thriller and sticking with a Southampton win in a game of over 3.5 goals at 15/4.