Southampton will be hoping for a swift return to winning ways following a harsh defeat to Manchester City, with the Saints having the opportunity to push Cardiff City closer to relegation. The Bluebirds find themselves in a precarious situation after the home loss to Crystal Palace and they clearly face an uphill task at St Mary’s.
Unlucky Jay Rodriguez
Having largely impressed in their first season following the return to the elite division, the Saints did really well to build on that success, with their performances at even higher level this term. If it hadn’t been for Jay Rodriguez’s season-ending injury, Southampton could have had up to four players in England World Cup squad, which speaks volumes about the work Mauricio Pochettino and his men have put in this term. The team recovered well from the poor run of form to win three of four Premier League fixtures ahead of the trip to Etihad last weekend. And while the Saints produced a very good performance against the title contenders, they eventually had to settle for a heavy defeat, with the final scoreline very harsh on them. Nevertheless, the team remained in eighth position in the standings and with the game against sorry Cardiff City next, they will want to cement a top half place as well as win this game for Jay Rodriguez. The hosts certainly have more than enough quality to do so and don’t be surprised if they hammer the Bluebirds on Saturday.
Jay Rodriguez is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines, whilst Artur Boruc, Kelvin Davis, Gaston Ramirez and Maya Yoshida are out injured as well.
Slim hope for Cardiff
Poor results were not the reason why club owner Vincent Tan sacked boss Malky Mackay, but nothing has improved with the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Norwegian coach made some questionable signings in January, but failed to improve the quality of the squad and it is fair to say nobody is surprised to see the Bluebirds in the bottom three. Cardiff had plenty of chances to improve their league position, but while they did manage to defeat relegation rivals Fulham at home, they were pretty disappointing in other games. Heavy defeats to Hull City and Liverpool on home soil put extra pressure ahead of the crucial game against Crystal Palace, and the 3-0 defeat they suffered in that game seems to have effectively ended their survival hopes. Cardiff sit six points adrift of safety with five games to go, and given their current form, we cannot really expect them to win at least three or four of those that would probably be enough to avoid the drop. With several important players missing the trip to Southampton, the Bluebirds look set for another heavy loss.
Important players Craig Noone has been ruled out for the season, while Kenwyne Jones, Mark Hudson, Ben Turner and Declan John are all injury doubts.
Southampton have been playing great football of late and with the Saints determined to end the season on a high, they can be trusted to pour more misery on out-of-sorts Cardiff City. The Bluebirds are completely out of confidence at the moment and they don’t look they can get anything from this match.
Top pick: Southampton/Southampton 2.25 (5/4) @ Stan James
Alternative pick 1: Southampton to win to nil 2.70 (17/10) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Southampton with -1.5 Asian handicap 2.25 (5/4) @ bet365