Southampton have only lost twice at home in 2016, yet the bookmakers have priced up Spurs as favourites for their trip to the South Coast on Wednesday night. That strikes as a little disrespectful to the home side, particularly when you consider that the two defeats – one this season, one last – were both at the hands of the current Premier League leaders Chelsea. Counter in the fact that Tottenham are without a win in eight away matches, and it suddenly seems a much less inviting prospect to back 5th in the league to beat 7th in their own back yard.
That’s the final Premier League game of the extended Christmas week fixture list, but beforehand on Tuesday Liverpool will host Stoke at Anfield. Both games are live on TV to quell the inevitable festive anti-climax, and as always Liverpool look good value for goals. Jurgen Klopp’s men are the clear top scorers in the division, and sit six points adrift of Chelsea in second place. They face an indifferent Stoke side which let a two-goal lead slip against 10-man Leicester last week. The Potters have managed to score in eight of their nine away games this term though, and there could be quite a few at Anfield on Tuesday evening.
Southampton v Spurs
Spurs have been made favourites at +162 , while the Saints are rated a +200 chance in some quarters. That doesn’t stack up in light of the evidence, but rather than cover Southampton on the double chance at odds-on, the draw is a more enticing prospect.
As mentioned, Southampton’s home record in 2016 has been a model of consistency. Chelsea beat them 2-1 here back in February last season, while the Blues were 2-0 winners again in October. No other side has left St Mary’s with a victory all year long, and nothing about Spurs’ away profile suggests they will.
Out of the Champions League at the group stage and 5th in the Premier League is scant return for the early season optimism at White Hart Lane, but a top four finish is once again a realistic target. Pochettino will have to brush up on his team’s away record though as they are winless in eight on the road. They have faced some tough assignments in that run – including Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Monaco and Chelsea – but Spurs also failed to win at Bournemouth and West Brom.
The accusation of flat track bully has often been levelled at Tottenham and while four wins in five games reads well, those were against CSKA, Swansea, Hull and Burnley. In-between they were beaten 1-0 at Manchester United, and the trend is one of struggling to win three points against the ‘better’ teams. Southampton may not quite fall into that category, but at home they are a very tough nut to crack. Equally, the Saints may not have enough to get three points of their own, but the draw looks a distinct possibility.
Liverpool v Stoke
Backing Liverpool to win at short odds isn’t the most exciting bet in the world, so a better option is backing the Reds to emerge victorious from a game in which both sides score at +190 with Betfair.
The result/both teams to score market is one that my colleagues have covered before with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, and it’s been a profitable venture. The Reds have played nine competitive league and cup games at Anfield this season and they’ve won seven of them (drawn two). However, the opposition have also found the net in six of those nine games. Liverpool fans will forgive the charismatic German if he delivers silverware, but there can be no doubt that he is already delivering entertaining football. His team have scored twice or more in eight of the nine home games this season – the exception a 0-0 draw with Manchester United.
Stoke are suffering a very indifferent patch in recent weeks under Mark Hughes, and they still can’t shake off the tag of a ‘solid mid-table club’. The former Manchester United striker has instilled a very different playing style to the one of Stoke sides gone by, and while it is yet to impact upon the club’s fortunes, it has made them far more attractive to watch. The Potters held Southampton to a 0-0 draw despite playing with ten men for over an hour after Arnautovic was sent for an early bath two games ago. But when afforded the same advantage against Leicester after Jamie Vardy suffered the same fate, Stoke threw away a two-goal lead after cruising into 2-0 lead.
The recommendation is not to back Stoke to get anything from the game, but they can at least get on the scoresheet. Hughes has seen his men find the net in eight of nine away games, including matches at Arsenal and Manchester United. A Liverpool win with both teams scoring makes most appeal for punters trying to find a better price.
Southampton and Spurs to Draw
Wednesday 28th December, 19:45 GMT
Liverpool to Win & Both Teams to Score
Tuesday 27th December, 17:15 GMT