Southampton v Swansea: Saints to be kept waiting for league victory

Slow starts to the season are a common feature of Claude Puel sides
Slow starts to the season are a common feature of Claude Puel sides

The Southampton lay and both teams to score intrigue Michael Lintorn ahead of their collision with Swansea...


"Swansea have netted in ten of their last dozen Premier League away outings, keeping a solitary clean sheet in the process."

Recommended Bet: Back both teams to score @ 2.0621/20

Southampton 1.738/11 v Swansea 5.95/1; The Draw 3.9
Sunday, 14:15

Ref Watch: Mike Jones

Jones has dished out 14 yellows and two reds in his first three matches of 2016/17, though his most recent appointment for Sunderland v Everton was his least active yet, distributing just two bookings.


Southampton

The volume wasn't as vast as it has been in the past, but Southampton lost important contributors this summer in Ronald Koeman, Sadio Mane, Victor Wanyama and Graziano Pelle and, despite finding talented replacements in Claude Puel, Nathan Redmond, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Sofiane Boufal, the transition hasn't been easy.

Four Premier League fixtures without success leave last season's sixth-placed finishers in the bottom three, yet their first victory of the Puel era did arrive at the fifth attempt in the Europa League in midweek, with Sparta Prague dismissed 3-0 at St Mary's.

The Saints have three players sidelined for the visit of Swansea: record signing Boufal and fellow new recruit Jeremy Pied, as well as long-term absentee Florin Gardos.


Swansea

Though the 2-0 home defeat to Hull in week two was a slight surprise, Swansea have adapted to their own raft of pre-season exits - captain Ashley Williams, top goalscorer Andre Ayew and four different centre forwards - far better than most pundits anticipated.

A victory at Burnley on the opening day and 2-2 draw with previously flawless Chelsea last weekend put two points of distance between themselves and the relegation zone and hint that they can aspire to more than simply avoiding the drop in their sixth Premier League campaign.

The news from the treatment table is positive too. While Nathan Dyer, whose most recent top-flight start for the club came in May 2015, is unavailable, £15.5 million attacking recruit Borja Baston may be fit enough to debut following his move from Atletico Madrid.


Match Odds

This columnist is on record elsewhere on Betting.Betfair as projecting that Southampton will soon climb the table, but it is debatable whether they warrant 1.738/11 favouritism here on current form.

Their ability to adapt to the Europa League's Thursday-Sunday schedule is unproven and they remain without a Premier League win, drawing both St Mary's showdowns against two clubs who finished in the bottom eight last term.

Swansea have earned more points on the road than Puel's men have as hosts already and they were on a three-game away winning streak, scoring eight goals, before a permissible loss to champions Leicester. As a result, there is definitely a case for laying the Saints at 1.748/11.


Both Teams to Score

The 2.0621/20 on St Mary's being a shutout-free zone on Sunday afternoon is arguably the best bet of all, delivering an odds-against price on a bet that has paid out in every single one of Southampton's past eight Premier League home encounters.

The Swans have netted on seven of their latest eight trips to this part of the south coast and in ten of their last dozen Premier League away outings against all adversaries, keeping a solitary clean sheet in the process.


Recommended Bet: Back both teams to score @ 2.0621/20


And what do Opta say?

Swansea's three Premier League goals against Southampton have been scored in the 73rd minute or later - it is 2.265/4 that the second half of this clash outscores the first.


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