Southampton v West Ham
Saturday February 6, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports 1
The good times are back at St Mary's with the club on a four game unbeaten run which includes a defeat of Manchester United and a draw at Arsenal. The return of England goalkeeper Fraser Forster appears to have rejuvenated the side. After a horror run that saw just one win and one draw in a 10 game league and cup run through late November, December and early January, the club have now kept four straight clean sheets to leap up the table. The 10 point haul across the last four games has taken Saints up to seventh, one place below Saturday evening's opponents.
Manager Ronald Koeman may be able to recall Charlie Austin to the first team. Steven Davis may return for this fixture.
A very good first season under Slaven Bilic continued on Tuesday night with a home defeat of Aston Villa. European qualification is well with their capabilities, and while that should ultimately be Europa League football it would still be a laudable achievement. The Hammers possess plenty of threat from midfield and attack with September signing Michail Antonio joining Dimitri Payet and Enner Valencia as a regular goalscorer since breaking into the first team. The former Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest winger has three goals in his last six games.
Although both are nearing their returns, Bilic is without Manuel Lanzini and Diafra Sakho for this trip. Andy Carroll is a doubt, too.
With these two battling it out for sixth place, and with it a place in the Europa League, this would be a very good game to win. Saints would be just two off the Hammers if they took the spoils; West Ham would be eight clear of the south coast side if they went home with all three points.
Southampton's good form makes them comfortable favourites but there's not much juice in their price at 1.768/11 to back.
West Ham started the season with away wins at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City, and have won five on the road in the top-flight this year, but are rated just 5.85/1 to beat Southampton. I think that's a tempting price.
The draw can be backed at 3.814/5, but looks sure to trade shorter in-play.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Southampton bring the league's best current defensive form into the game, and the West Ham backline is a decent unit to boot, so it's little wonder that Under 2.5 Goals is the 1.774/5 favourite.
There are other ways to back a low-scoring match at bigger prices, however.
The obvious pick is to back Under 1.5 at 3.259/4, while at a shorter price a fifth consecutive clean sheet for the home side trades at 2.26/5. If you want to pair up a shutout with a home win you can do so at around 2.89/5.
I share the market's confidence that this will be a low-scoring and I think the 0-0 Correct Score is more likely than odds of 10.09/1 suggest. It is worth backing simply as a trade or Cash Out option. My advice would be to wait until at least halftime before pressing the button. On a similar note - and as for a bet that is easier to record for P&L purposes - the 0-0 Halftime Score could well reward at odds of 2.8415/8.
Back 0-0 Halftime Score @ 2.8415/8
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