Crystal Palace v Southampton: Slow start the norm at Selhurst
First-half goals are usually in short supply at Selhurst Park and Andy Schooler is expecting another tight game when Crystal Palace host Southampton on Tuesday.
Crystal Palace v Southampton Tuesday 21 January, 19:30
Could Crystal Palace be flying towards Europe?
They play host to Southampton on Tuesday night having lost just one of their last 10 league games and a season which doubtless began with the club looking first and foremost to reach the famous 40-point mark is now beginning to take on a different complexion.
While relegation cannot be completely discounted yet, the Eagles are currently looking up, seeing only four points between them and fifth place, which comes with a guaranteed spot in next season's Europa League.
For the club to be sat in such a position, manager Roy Hodgson deserves huge credit.
Following a period of almost constant upheaval at Selhurst Park, he has added stability over the past couple of years. His team has a strong gameplan, one built on defensive strength (they have the fourth-best defence in the top flight this season) but also offering a threat at the other end of the pitch.
It isn't to all tastes - and many Palace fans would like a more expansive brand of football - but it's certainly got results with Palace currently on course to finish higher than last season's 12th and accumulate more points than the 49 they pocketed in 2018/19.
This has been achieved despite many injury problems, plenty of which remain. Patrick van Aanholt is still a key absentee, while the Eagles will be without captain Luka Milivojevic due to suspension.
Both players also missed Saturday's trip to Manchester City but Palace still grabbed an excellent point, scoring twice despite creating little against the defensively-suspect champions.
They should take plenty of confidence out of that one but they will also likely be wary of their return home as they've struggled for some time at Selhurst, particularly on the goalscoring front.
They have a league-low 10 home goals so far - continuing a pattern from last season which saw them net only 19 in their 19 matches - and haven't beaten any side outside the current bottom five.
On a more positive note, Palace are earning a reputation for their fight and ability to recover. They've won 11 points from losing positions this season - only Wolves have claimed more.
It was Wolves who Southampton lost to on Saturday, going down 3-2 at St Mary's in a game they'd led 2-0 at half time.
Saints have the opposite record to Palace. They've frittered a way a lot of leads and have now dropped 13 points more than any other side since the start of last season.
Against Wolves, they struggled to deal with the visitors' counter-attacks and so expect them to pay plenty of attention to the pacy Wilfried Zaha.
Angry boss Ralph Hasenhuttl hinted at changes, including to personnel, following that defeat. Given their weekend display and Palace's scoring problems, they look likely to sit a bit deeper and not give the home side space to break into.
Hasenhuttl need not panic though. That defeat was Saints' first in seven games in all competitions. They've won their last three away and have totalled five wins on the road in the league - only the top four have also managed that. Their victories include success at Leicester, Chelsea and Sheffield United.
Draw makes appeal
Southampton are slight favourites to win the game at 2.68, largely due to that recent away record, but Palace (3.00) have proved a tough nut to crack at home - they've only lost three and they came against the current top three of Liverpool, Man City and Leicester.
It's hard to split the two sides and so the draw makes the most appeal at 3.30.
However, rather than back that option, I prefer to chase a bigger price by making good use of those strong stats concerning the ability to recover and crumble.
With Southampton giving up leads rather too easily and Palace showing their resolve by regularly fighting back - they've fought back from a losing position to earn at least a point in five of their last seven games - I like the look of 6/1 about Palace coming from behind to draw. Their last four games have all ended all square.
Goals at a premium
My other bet is a tried and tested one in games at Selhurst Park, namely a goalless first half.
A remarkable eight of 11 Premier League games at the ground this season have landed this bet, while five of Southampton's 11 away games have also fitted the requirements.
In total, Selhurst has seen just four goals before the interval in those 11 games with Palace netting just one of them.
The hosts have long-standing goalscoring problems. They will hope new loan signing Cenk Tosun can continue his decent start - he scored at the Etihad - but he was an expensive flop at Everton, was left unmarked for Saturday's goal and later missed a great chance.
Saints have been better in that department but if the hosts' strong defence can keep Danny Ings quiet, they will have won a big part of the battle.
Given the stats involved, 2.82 about another goalless first half looks on the big side.
I prefer that to the under 2.5 goals bet at [1.77] which isn't one I'd put anyone off.
That's occurred in nine of Palace's 11 home games, while the head-to-head record shows the unders bet has also landed in four of the five meetings since Hodgson arrived at Palace.
Crystal Palace's last four Premier League games have been draws - the last team to draw five in a row in the competition were West Ham in December 2015, while the last team to have five score draws consecutively were West Brom (May 2003-August 2004).