The six-match winning run may have come to an end at White Hart Lane, but the Saints have a good opportunity to return to winning ways as they host Sunderland this weekend. The Black Cats are unbeaten in last four Premier League games and will attempt to keep the run going at St Mary’s.
Pelle scores on Italy debut
Southampton have been the biggest surprise package of the current season, and not because they do not belong in the top half of the standings, but due to the fact the Saints have seen a host of star players leave this summer. New boss Ronald Koeman, nonetheless, quickly rebuilt the squad thanks to the shrewd summer recruitment with his side virtually impeccable in the opening exchanges. The likes of Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle, Ryan Bertrand, Fraser Forster, Shane Long and Toby Alderweireld have all contributed to the good start of the season, while Nathaniel Clyne, Morgan Schneiderlin and Jose Fonte confirmed their status as league’s top players. Southampton’s amazing six-match winning run in all competitions came to an end as they were beaten by Tottenham at White Hart Lane, but the Saints can be trusted to return to winning ways. With late signing Sadio Mane quickly finding his feet and Graziano Pelle brimming with confidence after scoring on his debut, Southampton look a good bet to see off average Sunderland side.
Jay Rodriguez and James Ward-Prowse remain on the sidelines, but Maya Yoshida and Sam Gallagher should be back in contention.
Sunderland back in business
Gus Poyet proved his managerial credentials by saving Sunderland from the drop last term and he is now out to transform the club into genuine mid table side. Things did not start too well for the Black Cats this term, with opening draws against West Brom and Manchester United followed by the loss at Loftus Road, but the team have since managed to show some improvement. While losing to Stoke City in the Capital One Cup, Sunderland defeated the Potters in the league, following back to back goalless draws against Burnley and Swansea. Gus Poyet must have been delighted to see Steven Fletcher open his account this season, but the Scotland international will have a much tougher task when facing rock-solid Southampton. The biggest problem at the moment appears to be the lack of creativity in midfield and with Adam Johnson likely to start on the bench and both Giaccherini and Alvarez sidelined, it won’t be easy for Fletcher and Wickham to repeat their exploits from a fortnight ago. The Black Cats have yet to win an away fixture this season, and the trend looks set to continue.
There are no fresh injury worries for Gus Poyet, but Ricky Alvarez, Emmanuele Giaccherini and Sebastian Coates are out injured.
With all key players available and in good form, Southampton should have enough in them to return to winning ways and cement a place in the top 6. Sunderland may have shown some promise of late, but problems in the creative department should seriously damage their chances of getting something from St Mary’s.
Top pick: Home win 1.62 (5/8) @ Betfred
Alternative pick 1: Southampton/Southampton 2.50 (3/2) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Southampton to win to nil 2.50 (3/2) @ Paddy Power