Two teams looking to alter their fortunes clash at St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon, as Southampton host Arsenal in the Premier League (3pm). With their grip on fourth loosening fast, can the visitors bounce back? Or will it be the hosts who steer themselves back towards the top half with a win? This Saints vs AFC preview and its betting tips hopes to answer those queries.
There really hasn’t been much for the Saints to shout about in recent weeks. They did manage to end what was a four-game losing streak by holding Leeds to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road a fortnight ago, though that result didn’t exactly act as a springboard for further success. Last time out, Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men found themselves on the wrong end of a severe beating. Scoring four first half goals, Chelsea returned from St Mary’s with as 0-6 winners, and as they were entirely outclassed from the off, the Southampton boys could have little qualms about the result. Such a defeat also means that there’s likely to be little confidence in the home dressing room ahead of this clash.
Fortunately for the hosts, Saturday’s visitors arrive at this junction out of form too. The Gunners came up short in front of a home crowd last time out, losing by two goals to one, suffering their second defeat in five days, and that’s now three losses from their last four Premier League matches for Mikel Arteta’s men, who have seen bitter rivals Tottenham knock them out of the top four.
Unproductive against the big boys
In general, Southampton’s season hasn’t been too bad, while their efforts at home have been respectable. After all, only the current top three have lost fewer home games than the Saints this term. However, whenever it’s come to facing the better teams, Hasenhüttl’s men have struggled to get going. OK, they have avoided defeat in five of their seven games against teams that currently reside in the top half, but they remain without a home win against such opposition. Moreover, they have a rather poor scoring record in home games against top-half sides, scoring more than once in just one out of seven, failing to score in three of the other six.
In terms of expected goals, the Saints haven’t exactly impressed when welcoming top-half teams to St Mary’s, averaging a modest 0.9 xG for. Even if the Gunners come into this game off the back of some bad results, the hosts will almost certainly have to do better offensively if they’re to get a result on Saturday.
When the pair met earlier in the campaign, it was the Gunners who fared best, winning by three goals to nil. On the balance of play, though a three-goal winning margin may have been slightly flattering, a relatively comfortable home win was warranted, as Arteta’s men dominated in terms of possession, shots and expected goals, producing 1.5 to Southampton’s 0.6. Saturday’s visitors also won at this venue towards the end of last season, coming out on top by three goals to one, courtesy of goals from Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette, a forward who could really do with a goal having gone four games without finding the net.
SaintsFC vs AFC: Who to bet on?
Given that both teams go into Saturday’s clash on the south coast without much in the way of recent form in their back pockets, it wouldn’t be overly hard to chance the hosts at what may appear to be a decent price, but after further inspection, an away win is hard to resist at a shade under even-money.
Southampton do have a bit of a habit of holding out against the better teams at home this season, as draws against Spurs, Manchester City, Manchester United, Leicester and West Ham suggest, though they’ve certainly rode their luck in such encounters, offering a minimal amount offensively, coming off second best in terms of xG in three out of five. What’s more, the recent home form of the Saints has been somewhat dire. They’ve lost each of their last three at St Mary’s scoring two goals, conceding ten in the process.
In contrast, though the Arsenal boys don’t exactly arrive here in the hottest of form, their recent away record is far from displeasing, with five wins in their last six. Additionally, the Gunners have a far better record away against bottom half teams that the Saints do at home against those in the top half. The visitors have lost two of their nine travelling games against the current bottom half, but they’ve won five of their last five, and have produced far better underlying numbers than Saturday’s hosts, averaging 1.62 xG for, as well 1.05 xG against. Southampton have conceded an average of 1.81.
All in all, it’s fair to say that on the road against the teams that currently occupy the bottom half of the Premier League table, the visitors have done a far better job of both attacking and defending than the hosts have done at home against the top-half teams, and it is on that basis that an away win catches the eye in the betting.
Laca’s luck to be in
As touched on in this preview above, Arsenal’s Lacazette rather needs a goal. In fact, he could do with adding more goals to his game in general. A total of four Premier League goals isn’t exactly ideal for a central striker who’s made 25 appearances, playing 90 minutes of 19 occasions. However, the man who generally leads the line for the Gunners has performed with promise of late, while he’s averaging a very encouraging 0.41 expected goals per 90 minutes, not to mention 2.16 shots. Against a Southampton defence that can only be described as a wounded animal after last weekend’s thrashing, the Frenchman is fancied to smell blood. Punters should take advantage at odds of 12/5. So these are the betting tips at best odds:
- Arsenal to win @ 19/20 with Betfred or William Hill.
- Alexandre Lacazette to score anytime @ 12/5 with BetVictor.
Bradley Gibbs is an experienced football writer. He is an expert analyst on Premier League, and all global football leagues & tournaments, for Just Bookies. Bradley has been published by many respected outlets, including USA Betting and the Racing & Football Outlook. He has also written betting strategy guides.