TACTICAL boff Chris Bland (@blandc_1996) is on-hand to pick out his favourite value fancies from Friday night's Premier League match-up between Southampton and Leicester.
Southampton v Leicester | Friday 25th October 2019, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Southampton host Leicester at St Mary’s on Friday night as they look to build on a 1-1 draw away Wolves that ended a run of three straight league defeats. Above the drop-zone only on goal difference, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have had a slow start to the season, as they continue to leak goals, whilst struggling in the final-third.
Leicester bounced back from a last-minute defeat at Anfield with a 2-1 win over Burnley thanks to Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans goals, and could find themselves second in the table come the end of Friday night with victory on the south coast.
Moussa Djenepo and Cedric Soares are expected to miss out for the Southampton, with Djenepo in particular being an integral part to the Saints’ early season success, whilst James Maddison is expected to be passed fit for the Foxes after completing 73 minutes in that win over Burnley.
The Expected Goals (xG) conundrum
Standing out in this fixture from a statistical point of view are two sides who are performing completely different to what their Expected Goals (xG) suggest they should be.
Southampton have conceded 16 goals, despite an xGA of 12.74, whilst their attack has produced enough chances for an xG of 13.64, yet have only netted nine. Che Adams has been the biggest offender, yet to score despite an xG of 2.57, and the switch to playing Danny Ings through the middle has seen him net three in three, and at least give Saints a greater scoring instinct up front.
Hasenhuttl’s hosts come up against a Leicester defence that has only conceded eight goals despite an xGA of 11.28, whilst their attack has been massively overperforming, with an xG of 8.93 yet a running total of 16 goals. This has been in part down to the clinical nature of Vardy, who has netted six times despite an xG of 2.30.
What this suggests is that it will be a closer game than one might think looking at the form and the table, and is worth considering on Friday night.
Vardy to exploit the Southampton’s lack of pace
Despite the statistics shown above, this is exactly the kind of game that will suit Leicester, and in particular Vardy and Maddison. Southampton have varied between a back three and four this season, however they will still have to deal with same underlying issue regarding their lack of mobility.
Tammy Abraham and Callum Wilson have both exploited the space left in behind of Southampton’s defence when pushing high this season, and if they are to press high once again, it is the perfect opportunity for Vardy to exploit at the back.
Leicester often look to utilise this tactic, with Caglar Soyuncu’s long passing ability from the back (averaging 3.20 long balls per-game) and coupled with Kasper Schmeichel’s distribution, it offers up the perfect opportunities to exploit.
Furthermore, if Southampton are to drop off and defend deep to alleviate this issue, it frees up space in front of the back line for Maddison and Tielemans to dominate, and with both averaging 1.60 key passes, plus the luxury of two of the best attacking full backs in the league to create overloads out wide, it could be a long evening for Southampton’s backline.
Although Oriol Romeu and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have shown their class in front of the backline against the likes of Manchester United, Leicester possess a more threatening cutting edge, and should be well fancied to break down this Southampton backline.
Priced at 11/10 (11/10 SkyBet), Leicester to net Over 1.5 Goals is particularly tempting, as if they can get an opener, the game will stretch and subsequently suit the counter-attacking Foxes.
The other market of note on this game is corners, and given Leicester have so far averaged 7.33 corners, they are well priced to obtain a similar total once again.
Taking the games against Newcastle and Burnley, where they managed nine in each, they came up against deep defences and used wide overloads to create openings.
This, coupled, with the low crosses they looked to use in order make up for the lack of aerial threat in the box, meant that they were able to rack up the corner count, and given Southampton could defend in a similar vein, makes it a tempting market to tap into.
Even if Southampton are to push on higher and allow the space in behind for Vardy and co, it will lead to the channels being exploited in a differing fashion, still bringing appeal to the corner count for the Foxes.
Priced at 11/8, Over 5.5 Leicester Corners makes plenty of appeal, especially as it is priced as short as 4/5 elsewhere.