Sports Betting Weekly

Stoke City v Southampton

When: Saturday, 18 April 2015 @ 21:00 (FINISHED)
Where: The Britannia Stadium
Southampton will look to maintain their highly impressive European charge going into the last six matches of the season on Saturday, when they face a Stoke City side who have won a lot of admirers this campaign under the management of Mark Hughes.

At the start of the campaign, the Saints were tipped by many to be in a relegation battle after the likes of Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Calum Chambers departed for pastures new, but new manager Ronald Koeman has replaced them brilliantly and, as such, Southampton are now just one point behind fifth-placed Liverpool.

With Chelsea guaranteed to finish in the top four, the fact that Jose Mourinho’s men also claimed the League Cup has opened up another space for entering the Europa League – which will be awarded to the side who finishes in sixth position – but if Southampton want to avoid playing the extra qualifying matches, finishing fifth is imperative.

Achieving such a strong finish may prove crucial in ensuring another fire sale doesn’t happen this summer, with vultures circling St Mary’s as clubs eye up potential moves for Morgan Schneiderlin, Nathaniel Clyne and James Ward-Prowse – all of whom have been excellent this season.

Stoke fans, meanwhile, are enjoying the slow but steady progression of a side that has been in the Premier League for seven years now – and their chances of finishing in the top 10 for a second season running are looking very good.

The Potters are currently sat comfortably in 10th position and are only behind ninth-placed West Ham on goal difference as Mark Hughes continues to rebuild his managerial reputation after the absolute horror show that was his brief and unsuccessful spell at Queens Park Rangers.

Such is the good work that Hughes has done at Stoke that the hierarchy have rewarded the Welshman with a contract that runs until 2019, but in recent weeks it has seemed that their top 10 push has stalled as the club have lost three and drawn one of their last four league fixtures.

Southampton on the other hand have won three out of their last five games and also claimed a credible 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – though they’ve failed to win their last three away games. The market has decided that Southampton are favourites to end that particular streak at 13/10, with Stoke being priced at 13/5 and a draw at 23/10

Fresh from his exploits against England for Italy, Saints striker Graziano Pelle finally scored his first league goal of 2015 against Hull last weekend and is now rated at 21/10 to keep his scoring run going by finding the net at any point on Saturday. Stoke’s best chance of finding a goal, meanwhile, lies with top scorer Jonathan Walters, who is 9/2 to bag anytime or 19/2 to score first in the game.