Southampton v Tottenham
Wednesday 28 December, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
It's an exciting month ahead for Southampton.
Nicely positioned in seventh, they'll hope to maintain their impressive form in the Premier League whilst booking a Wembley date in the EFL Cup by getting past a Liverpool side they held to a 0-0 draw at St Mary's last month.
That game was one of 12 clean sheets they've kept in all competitions and that run included six in a row across September and October.
What's particularly impressive is that they've climbed to seventh whilst fighting on three fronts due to their run to the last four of the EFL and battles with the likes of Inter and Sparta Prague in the Europa League. Had they been languishing in the bottom half, it would have been easy to explain away.
There's been the odd sticky patch but coming into this one they've lost just once in seven games and have taken seven points out of nine in the Premier League thanks to wins over Middlesbrough and Bournemouth along with a 0-0 draw at Stoke.
Other managers have hogged more of the limelight but Saints boss Claude Puel is continuing the fine work done by predecessors Ronald Koeman and his rival in this one, Mauricio Pochettino.
The perception of Spurs' season and their actual points tally doesn't quite tally.
Despite plenty of disappointments, the Christmas Day table showed them just a point behind Arsenal and just four back from Liverpool, who have been lauded for most of the season.
Without doubt, though, Tottenham have done their best work at White Hart Lane and they and Chelsea boast two more home wins (seven) than any other top-flight team.
But away from home it's a different story. They've won just two of eight and the latest of those was back in September.
To highlight their problems on the road, Spurs haven't emerged victorious in any away game since beating CSKA Moscow. That winless streak stretches to eight games in all comps, five of those in the league.
In truth, a trip to St Mary's is a far from obvious opportunity to snap that sequence as Southampton have lost just one Premier League game at home this season.
Tottenham, at least, go into the game on the back of two wins (expected home successes over Hull and Burnley) although this is clearly a much tougher task.
Southampton are 2.962/1 to bank another three points while Tottenham are 2.6813/8 to return to London with the win. A drawn game is the biggest of the three outcomes at 3.39/4.
Spurs have enjoyed recent visits to Southampton with three wins and a draw in the last four. Saints won the previous four 1-0.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Southampton are the only team in the Premier League whose fixtures average less than two goals per game never mind 2.5. No surprise then that Unders is just 1.774/5.
There are other facts pointing towards a lack of goals. Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster has kept a clean sheet in 40% of his Premier League matches since joining (26) and he's conceded just 54 goals in those 65 matches.
His recent numbers are even more impressive and Saints haven't conceded a home goal in five hours and five minutes of Premier League football.
Both Teams To Score
Saints have scored the least amount of home goals in the Premier League, managing just eight in front of their own fans.
But that's balanced by the fact that only Chelsea have let in fewer home goals than Southampton's five.
With just 13 Premier League goals witnessed at St Mary's, it's fair to surmise that going 'No' on BTTS has landed a fair number of times. It has; in fact, five in the last six matches.
Getting an odds-against price, 2.021/1, looks a pretty good deal in what looks set to be a low scoring contest.
I'm certainly leaning towards Southampton and, if there is to be a positive result, they look a decent price to nick it.
But rather than play Puel's men at just under 2/1, it's worth having a bet on a 1-0 home win at 9.28/1.
That's right in their wheelhouse and, in fact, Southampton's last two St Mary's successes were by that very scoreline against Middlesbrough and Everton. They also beat Swansea 1-0 earlier in the season so 75% of their home victories in the Premier League have been by the minimum margin.
After completing fourth official duties at Leicester on Boxing Day, Mike Dean will head to the south coast to take charge here.
From 13 Premier League games this season, he's shown three cards and flashed 58 yellows.
Notably, two of three sending offs have come in Tottenham games. He gave Adnan Januzaj his marching orders when Spurs edged Sunderland 1-0 and also showed a red to Winston Reid in Spurs' dramatic 3-2 home win over West Ham. He booked four players across those two games.
In his one game at St Mary's this season he booked three players, including Southampton's Dusan Tadic.
Back Southampton to win 1-0 @ 9.28/1
Only Chelsea (43) have allowed their opponents fewer shots on target than Southampton (45) in the
Premier League this season.
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