AFTER a superb season, Southampton have hit a slump. Can they get back into the winning habit against Sheffield United in the League Cup? Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) investigates.
Sheff Utd v Southampton | Wednesday 19:45
The main discussion point with regard to this tie is Southampton’s recent slump in form. That’s certainly worth some chat later in the article, but Sheffield United are hardly at the top of their game at the moment either.
Nigel Clough’s side (who one would have to say are one of the bigger clubs in League One) have won just one of their last six league games. Defeats to Barnsley and MK Dons were supplemented by draws against Oldham, Notts County and Fleetwood since November began. They currently lie in fifth position, six points behind fourth place Preston.
Two comfortable FA Cup victories have been achieved during that period, and perhaps there’s something significant in that. Nigel Clough’s tenure has been dominated by rousing Cup victories. The Blades reached the FA Cup semi-finals last season and have knocked out high-flying West Ham earlier in this year’s Capital One Cup. You wouldn’t imaging this tie will phase them.
Let’s talk about Southampton then. What pundits have failed to pick up on, is that up until Saturday they’d won all the matches they were expected to win and lost all the games they should have lost. They haven’t beaten anyone who finished above them last season in the league, and have cruised past most of the sides who finished below them.
Saturday’s defeat to lowly Burnley was a worrying sign. It was their fourth consecutive defeat and fifth without a win. Have they lost their way? Should we expect them to start dropping down the table? With Everton, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United coming up in their next five league matches that’s very possible.
Looking at the odds, there’s no way I can be with Southampton tonight. BetVictor offer them best price at 11/20 and that’s makes no appeal. As I mentioned, they’ve picked up just one point from their last 15 available, are without Graziano Pelle and are facing a side who excel at knocking out higher-ranked clubs in these kind of competitions.
I’ll back Sheffield United with a goal start on the Asian Handicap at 20/19 with BetVictor. If they lose by one goal I get my money back.
Sheffield United v Southampton (Sheffield United +1 Asian Handicap 20/19)