Southampton v Crystal Palace: In-form Saints simply too short

Crystal palace manager - Roy Hodgson
Palace manager, Roy Hodgson, planning another fruitful away day

Southampton take on Crystal Palace at St Mary's after their brilliant 2-0 smash and grab at Chelsea but are they too short to win? Steve Rawlings finds out...

"Southampton have lost six of their nine at St Mary’s this season and with just seven points and a -15 goal difference, they have the worst home record in the division this season. The Saints are nudging odds-on in the outright market and that looks too short."

Southampton v Crystal Palace
Saturday December 28, 15:00

Soaring Saints look to improve St Mary's form

Southampton have been matched at a low of 2.01/1 to be relegated from the Premier League and their manager, Ralph Hasenhuttl, looked like a dead man walking two months ago after their devasting 9-0 home defeat to Leicester and their 2-1 home defeat to a desperately poor Everton side, either side of a 2-1 loss to Manchester City.

Having picked up just a solitary point from their previous seven Premier League matches, the Saints rallied well after the Everton match. A 2-2 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates was followed by back-to-back 2-1 home wins, against Watford and Norwich, but defeats at Newcastle and at home to West Ham since suggested Ralph might be heading for the door after all.

The former RB Leipzig boss was matched at a low of 4.216/5 in the very latest Next Premier League Manager to Leave Market and he would have headed north to Villa Park on the Saturday before Christmas wondering if he'd still be in charge come New Year's Day but his side has responded brilliantly.

The Saints were brilliant, comprehensively beating relegation rivals, Aston Villa, and they followed that up with an unexpected 2-0 victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day. Hasenhuttl's heroes are on a roll again but its three seasons since they last won three Premier League matches in-a-row and they're a better side away from St Mary's than they are at home.

Southampton have won just two of their nine home games so far this season, the aforementioned victories against Watford and Norwich, the two teams trading at odds-on for the drop, and they've picked up only one other point at home. That came courtesy of 1-1 draw with Manchester United back in August. They've lost their other six games at St Mary's.

Injury-hit Eagles still command respect

Despite an ever-deepening injury crisis, with Christian Benteke and Patrick van Aanholt the latest to join a list that already included five first-team players - Scott Dann, Gary Cahill, Joel Ward, Andros Townsend and Jeffrey Schlup - Crystal Palace are up to ninth in the table after a deserved win at home to West Ham on Thursday, thanks to this quite incredible solo strike late on by Jordan Ayew.

The Eagles had deserved at least a point at the weekend away at Newcastle but they left St James' emptyhanded after Miguel Almiron struck in the 83rd minute to grab all three. That late blow was tough on Palace but that's the only defeat in six since they lost 2-1 to Liverpool in the dying seconds over a month ago and they're tough nuts to crack - especially on the road.

Crystal Palace were fabulous on their travels last season, winning five of their last six away from Selhurst Park and 29 of their 49 points were gained away from home. They've only won three away matches so far this season but they avoid defeat more often than not.

Saints have the historical edge

History is on the side of the in-form home side. The two clubs have played out 23 draws, the Saints have won 46 and Palace only 39 but this fixture ended in a 1-1 draw last season and Crystal Palace left St Mary's with all three points the season before (won 2-1).

Under 2.5 Goals is odds-on in the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market but that looks a bit short to me. Palace don't score many - in fact they've only scored 17 in 19 games this season. Only Watford (12) have scored less and games involving Palace have only averaged exactly two goals. That's the lowest average in the league but Saints games produce at least three goals 68% of the time and seven of their nine home fixtures this season have produced at least three goals.

Both Teams to Score is fractionally odds-on and that makes sense. Again, it's miserly Palace that are keeping the price up. Both teams have scored in only 37% of Palace matches but both sides have found the net in seven of the nine games played at St Mary's this season and if forced to select, I'd go for Yes over No.

Danny Ings didn't start at Stamford Bridge but only because he wouldn't be able to play 90 minutes twice in three days and given he's bang in form and that he's already bagged 11 this season, he's a fair price in the To Score market at odds-against but the value looks to sit elsewhere...

Southampton are simply too short

Southampton have won four of their last six, Hasenhuttl has sparked another mini revival and to a degree, I can see why they're so short given the visitor's injury woes but they have to be opposed given their record at home and Palace's form on the road.

Southampton have lost six of their nine at St Mary's this season and with just seven points and a -15 goal difference, they have the worst home record in the division this season and it's more than a year since Roy Hodgson's Palace lost two in-a-row on the road in the Premier League. The Saints are nudging odds-on in the outright market and that looks too short.

Laying the even money about Southampton is very tempting and taking over 3/1 about the visitors makes some appeal too but after much deliberation, I'm happy to play Palace in the Draw No Bet market at 3.185/40.

2019/20 P/L

Staked: 35.5 pts
Returned: 45.7 pts
P/L: +10.2 pts

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