SOUTHAMPTON host Brighton on Sunday. Jack Wright (@JackWright_BSB ) is on-hand to preview the match-up.
Southampton vs Brighton | Sunday 14th March 2021, 12:00 | BBC
Southampton conceded their 14th league goal in Manchester on Wednesday with City adding five goals to United’s nine so they will be pleased that, (although I scored an Ungraded in my Geography A-Level I’m pretty certain in saying) this clash at St. Mary’s is as far away from that part of the world as they can get in the EPL.
Both sides come in to this South Coast derby having lost four of their last six competitive games with the Saints losing nine of their last 11 league games, Brighton’s down turn in form has been more recent and followed back-to-back victories over both Tottenham and Liverpool.
The Seagulls will be grateful for those surprise six points as they enter the weekend out of the relegation zone on goal difference only, but if Fulham can follow up their own win over the defending champions by taking anything from their fixture against the new champions in waiting, they will lift themselves above the dotted line at Brighton’s expense.
Graham Potter’s side have had some bizarre results managing to snatch defeats from games of dominance and a quick look at the league table based on expected points sees they incredibly lay fifth, some 19.50 xPTS better off than their actual haul of 26 – you have to see some of the catalogue of missed chances to believe them.
No better illustrated than in the recent 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace, a game which saw Brighton have 75% possession, fire off 25 shots to three, concede to the only two on target and finish the game with xG stats of 2.59 – 0.18 but most importantly zero points.
Brighton are defensively sound conceding the fourth lowest average shots per game with just nine, only power houses Manchester City (7.1), Liverpool (8.5) and Chelsea (8.9) conceded fewer, Southampton aren’t too far behind in sixth with their average of 10.7.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side according to infogol.net also rank fourth behind Brighton, Chelsea and Manchester City for expected goals against (xGA) at home with an average of 1.16, which does point towards a tight game here.
Given the game, and league situation allied by those defensive stats it’s no surprise to see under 2.5 goals listed at a best price 4/7 but with research pointing towards a tight low scoring affair I am narrowing the possibilities down to a draw as has been the case in 11 of Brighton’s 27 games so far (41%) and therefore 0-0 or 1-1 with preference for the latter available at 6/1 with Bet Victor.
Shorn of prolific marksman and eight goal top scorer Danny Ings, Southampton will have to look elsewhere for their goals with reliance likely to fall on Che Adams, six goals, and James Ward-Prowse who has seven strikes to his name.
However, it is the man next in the scoring charts that catches my eye.
Towering centre-back Jannik Vestergaard has found the back of the net three times this season and since returning from injury at the beginning of last month has had eight attempts at goal from his seven appearances three of which were on target including two in his last three games.
Any set pieces conceded in the final third will strike fear in to the hearts of anyone of a Brighton persuasion as not only is the 28-year-old Dane a massive threat he of course has just the man to provide the perfect supply in the aforementioned James Ward-Prowse.
Talk to any Seagulls fan and they will also stress that despite those strong defensive capabilities in open play they do look vulnerable from set pieces.
Adam Webster has been ruled out until after the international break leaving Lewis Dunk and Dan Burn as the likely candidates to nullify the obvious Saints threat.
Therefore, in a tough to call, tight game, set pieces could make the difference so I’m taking a small stakes chance on Vestergaard to have one or more headed shots on target at 7/2 with Sky Bet and my loose change on him doing so on two or more occasions at 40/1 with the same firm – a bet which is just 25/1 with Paddy Power/Betfair.
Southampton vs Brighton – 1-1 correct score (6/1 Bet Victor)
Southampton vs Brighton – Jannik Vestergaard to have 1+ headed shots on target (7/2 Sky Bet)
Southampton vs Brighton – Jannik Vestergaard to have 2+ headed shots on target (40/1 Sky Bet)