Southampton v Cardiff: Saints have the scoring power to edge big relegation clash
Andrew Atherley expects the hosts to move further clear of the drop zone with victory on Saturday...
"The Saints are on an unbeaten run of seven in all competitions since their 3-1 loss at home to Manchester City on December 30."
Southampton v Cardiff
Saturday 9 February, 15:00
Long set to start in attack
Ralph Hasenhuttl's first match in charge of Southampton was a 1-0 defeat in the reverse fixture on December 8 but since then the Saints have overtaken Cardiff and climbed out of the relegation places after being reinvigorated by the new manager.
Victory here would give Hasenhuttl's side more breathing space, moving them five points clear of Cardiff, but defeat would put the visitors above them again and possibly send Southampton back into the drop zone.
Hasenhuttl needs to re-jig his starting attack with Danny Ings unavailable after suffering a hamstring injury in last week's 1-1 at Burnley. Shane Long, who came on for Ings, is expected to get the nod as the lone striker, although Charlie Austin is available again having made a late appearance off the bench at Burnley.
Mario Lemina and Michael Obafemi both remain sidelined, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will be assessed after missing last week's game with a head injury.
Cardiff could leapfrog Saints
Cardiff are fighting hard in the relegation battle and exceeding the expectations of many people in lying just two points from safety in 18th place with 13 games to play.
After the emotion of last week's tribute to Emiliano Sala and the 2-0 home win over Bournemouth, Neil Warnock's resilient side have the incentive to lift themselves out of the drop zone if they can secure three points here.
Warnock could name an unchanged team, although Victor Camarasa - whose wonder strike at Leicester secured Cardiff's only away win - could be ready to return after a muscle complaint.
Club captain Sean Morrison is set to miss his fourth consecutive match following abdominal surgery, having been an ever-present up to then.
Saints more potent now
Southampton rank eighth in the Premier League form table since Hasenhuttl took charge (W4 D3 L3), behind only the big six and Wolves. The three defeats came in the new manager's first five matches and they are on an unbeaten run of seven in all competitions since their 3-1 loss at home to Manchester City on December 30.
One of the most impressive aspects of Hasenhuttl's work is that Southampton have become a more dangerous attacking unit, having scored in eight of his 10 Premier League games. Their goals scored averages 1.4 per game compared to 0.87 under Mark Hughes.
Cardiff shut them out in the reverse fixture but perhaps part of the reason was that it was Hasenhuttl's first match. The only other team to stop the Saints scoring is Chelsea in a 0-0 at Stamford Bridge and no opponent has managed to do it at St Mary's since the new manager arrived.
That spells trouble for Cardiff, who have lost all nine league away matches when conceding. Their only points have come at Huddersfield (0-0), Crystal Palace (0-0) and Leicester (1-0), where they were also heading for a goalless draw until Camarasa's last-gasp strike.
There have been some encouraging signs in Cardiff's away form, with the points at Palace and Leicester coming in their last four trips and a decent showing in a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal last time, but that run also includes a 3-0 defeat at Newcastle.
Another positive is that they have scored in four of their last six away games, which is an indication that they are finding their feet on the road.
With both teams having scored in eight of Southampton's 10 league games under Hasenhuttl - and in two FA Cup ties - that looks a possible bet at .
At bigger odds, however, the recommendation is Southampton to win and both teams to score at [3.8].
Cardiff could help to raise goals
Six of Southampton's 10 league games under Hasenhuttl have had over 2.5 goals, including four out of five at home.
Cardiff's away games show an even split of over/under 2.5 goals but a key factor is whether Warnock's side find the net - in those circumstances, five out of six have had over 2.5 goals.
Southampton have both scored (11) and conceded (12) in each of their last seven home league games. Both teams to score is .
Premier League 2018-19 P/L
Back Southampton to win and both teams to score at [3.8]