Sports Betting Weekly

Manchester United v Southampton

When: Sunday, 11 January 2015 @ 22:00 (FINISHED)
Where: Old Trafford
With the title race and relegation dogfight already covered in this week’s pick of Premier League fixtures, attention on Sunday will turn to the battle for UEFA Champions League places as Manchester United welcome Southampton to Old Trafford in the late kick-off.

Having lost four consecutive games across November and December, many pundits had been quick to proclaim that Southampton’s apparently inevitable slide down the Premier League table had begun in earnest, but since then the Saints have bounced back in impressive style by winning three of their four Christmas fixtures – with a battling draw against Chelsea the sole exception in that run.

As such, Ronald Koeman’s side will go into Sunday’s game in fine fettle and look a little long at odds of 4/1 to avenge their 2-1 defeat to United in the middle of that four-game losing streak. Indeed, having comprehensively outplayed Louis van Gaal’s men at St Mary’s only to be punished by two pieces of clinical finishing from Robin van Persie, Southampton will feel they have a point to prove here and may well be worth backing in the half time/full time market at an even bigger 15/2.

Nevertheless, the Saints will face a tall order against a Red Devils side that have won their last five games at home while scoring an average of almost 2.5 goals a game – a record that goes some way to explaining their status as 4/5 favourites. Key to their chances of extending that impressive run will be the ever-improving form of Radamel Falcao, who has two goals and an assist from United’s last four fixtures and is jointly priced with Van Persie to be the game’s first scorer at 4/1.

Although both games were away from the fortress that is Old Trafford, it should be noted that in recent weeks United have conceded early goals to both Aston Villa and Stoke before battling back to claim a point, and you can get 11/1 on Southampton holding the lead at half-time without going on to win – a bet that offers substantially more value than simply plumping for a 1-1 draw at 7/1.

Elsewhere in the markets, the continued concerns over the number of chances United afford visiting teams at Old Trafford – and, indeed, their own prowess at the other end of the pitch – makes the 16/1 on either goalkeeper claiming the Man Of The Match award incredibly tempting; especially when you consider Fraser Forster has the most clean sheets in the league this season and his opposite number, David de Gea, has made more saves (58) than any other ‘keeper in the current top four.