Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 19/20
With all the makings of a Premier League six-pointer, on Saturday afternoon, Paul Lambert’s Stoke side will travel down to the south coast to meet a Southampton side who have now only lost one of their last nine matches.
For the hosts on Saturday afternoon, Mauricio Pellegrino’s Southampton side managed to leave Turf Moor with a controversial point last weekend. With Italian forward Manolo Gabbiadini scoring a 90th-minute equalizer, the Saints picked up a crucial point in what is becoming one of the closest relegation battles in recent memory. Although the east coast club are currently sat 16th in the Premier League table, it is only the Saints goal difference that is keeping them out of the drop zone. With just one loss in their last nine matches, Southampton’s resurgence can be highlighted by the form in the final third. Despite struggling to find the net at the start of the season, the Saints have now only failed to find the net once in 2018.
Southampton pair Steven Davis and Shane Long are both nursing minor injuries and will be assessed ahead of Saturday’s game.
Charlie Austin remains out of contention because of a hamstring injury but is edging close to a return.
As for Paul Lambert’s Stoke City side, the Potters have endured a stable start to life under the former Aston Villa manager. Taking over from Mark Hughes last month, while Stoke have only lost one of their last five Premier League matchups, the Potters still find themselves stuck in 19th position. While Lambert’s side do hold a six-point buffer over rock-bottom West Brom, Stoke remain a single point adrift of the top flight safety, however, Stoke’s new boss will know that three crucial points on Saturday afternoon could see them leapfrog their opponents this weekend. If Stoke do want to extend their stay in the Premier League come May, they will have to start turning a single point into three, the Potters have now drawn three out of their last four, including a 1-1 draw with Leicester last weekend.
Peter Crouch and Ryan Shawcross are both available for Stoke after recovering from ankle injuries.
Goalkeeper Lee Grant is out with a wrist injury, while Stephen Ireland remains sidelined by a calf problem.
Key Factors to Consider
- Stoke have only lost one of their last six matches against Southampton (W4, D1).
- No team in the bottom seven has scored more goals than the Saints (29).
- However, no single player has more than six goals in the Premier League this season.
- The Potters have only lost one of their last five Premier League matches (W1, D3).
- Stoke forward Xherdan Shaqiri has now scored in his last three appearances.
With both sides combined only losing two of their last 14 matches, both Paul Lambert and Mauricio Pellegrino will be confident about improving their chances of Premier League safety. On paper, it has the feel of a game that should produce chances for both sides, with no team in the bottom seven scoring more goals than Southampton, Pellegrino’s side have now only failed to score once since the start of the New Year. Like their opponents on Saturday, Stoke to have recently found their scoring touch, with Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri now has three goals in his last three Premier League games.
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