Southampton v Hull City
It's fair to say Southampton have had easier weeks. Against Manchester City, the Saints battled hard but eventually succumbed to the pressure, conceding three times after the interval. That was followed by a 4-2 defeat at Stamford Bridge - a scoreline that, in truth, flattered them just a touch. Neither performance was especially woeful, but the results demonstrated the chasm between the Premier League's big dogs and those scrapping away for ground in midtable.
Claude Puel's men have a good chance to return to winning ways on Saturday, when they welcome Hull to the south coast. Southampton have won their last four home games against the Tigers and with Manolo Gabbiadini back in the side after injury, will feel they have the firepower to get the job done again at St Mary's.
Nathan Redmond will be eyeing a return to the side having been rested against Chelsea, with Sofiane Boufal the man most likely to make way. The Frenchman has shown flashes of inspiration since joining the club but will have to add consistency to his game if he is to make a real impact next term.
If last week's win over Watford was anything to go by, Hull City won't be found lacking for heart in their battle against relegation. The Tigers were reduced to 10 men in ludicrous fashion when Oumar Niasse was dismissed for wafting a leg in the vague direction of M'Baye Niang, but dug deep and ground out an impressive 2-0 victory.
That result preserved Hull's cushion over Swansea and took them to within three points of Burnley in 16th. With four matches to go, Marco Silva's side have given themselves a real shot at escaping the drop - testament to his brilliant work since arriving at the club in January.
Niasse is available on Saturday after having his red card rescinded, so there's every chance Silva will name the same XI that started last time out. Counter-attacking is likely to be the name of the game, with flying wingers Lazar Markovic and Kamil Grosicki both in fine form at the moment.
Southampton are trading as 1.67 favourites, which is no great surprise given Hull's form away from the KCOM Stadium. Only one of the 20 points gathered under Silva has come on the road and they were soundly beaten by Stoke City on their last trip away from the northeast.
It's worth noting, though, their away fixtures were fairly tough prior to the Stoke game: under Silva they have travelled to Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal, Leicester, Everton and Manchester City. Far better sides would have struggled to pick up points in that run, which should be factored into our thinking.
Saints have been unreliable at home in recent months, with West Brom, West Ham and Bournemouth among the sides to have claimed points at St Mary's since Christmas. Add in the fact that Hull beat Saints back in November, there could be some juice in the Hull win at 5.90 or the draw at 4.10.
Those long odds on the Hull win also bring the Asian Handicap market into our thinking. The Tigers cannot match Southampton's individual quality but they do have far more to play for and there is little doubt that Silva has them believing that a great escape is possible.
That counts for a lot in the closing stages of the season and so we like the look of odds of 1.75 for Hull +1.0. The bet would yield profit if Hull win or draw and you'd get your money back if they lose by one goal.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Both sides have tended to the overs this term: over-2.5-goal bets have paid out in 56% of Southampton games and 56% of Hull games. But Southampton are a touch more circumspect at home (their figure falls to 47%) and there's every chance this will be a gritty game involving a rearguard action by Hull. Unders looks the preferable pick at 2.12.
None of the players who scored in the November game between these sides is likely to feature: Robert Snodgrass left Hull in January, Charlie Austin is injured for Saints and Michael Dawson will probably be on the home bench.
The most likely source of goals, then, is probably Gabbiadini. The Italian showed his cutting edge before injury and looked sharp against Chelsea, setting up Oriol Romeu's goal. He is 1.81 to notch on Saturday.
Back Hull +1.0 at 1.75
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