Tottenham vs Southampton
A place in Europe next season, a Champions League spot, against Premier League safety, survival and another year in the EPL. That is what is at stake as Spurs host the Saints at White Hart Lane this Saturday.
So can Spurs start to put together a run to reach the Champions League with a win here, or will Southampton cement their place in next season's EPL by earning at least a point in this one as Tottenham stutter in the home stretch?
Well, the bookies have Tottenham as firm favourites for a home win at 4/9 with bet365 and William Hill or at 1/2 with Ladbrokes while at 6/1 betting odds, the away win for Southampton with bet365 is the best price on offer right now. The draw at 10/3 is offered by both Ladbrokes and bet365.
Tottenham are 11/8 with William Hill to finish in the top four and earn a Champions League place for next season. Rivals Arsenal and Chelsea are 1/4 and 1/6 respectively to finish top four in the EPL and force Spurs to settle for a Europa League spot, though Everton will have something to say about even that!
Southampton were looking pretty safe in mid table having put together a run of six games undefeated including three wins on the bounce. But two draws and then a crushing 3-0 defeat at home to WBA last time out, where they ended with nine men after two red cards, coupled with other results, has made it that any one from 9th placed Swansea City down can still, mathematically, be relegated from the EPL in the one remaining relegation spot.
It should make for some interesting games and some great value to be had if you know where to look as the form book can and does get thrown out of the window in the final weeks of the season as teams fight for survival. There is little room for complacency as one defeat and it can all change with only five points covering the nine places above the bottom three.
So come to SBRForum.com for all your free Tips, Picks and Score Predictions on our Soccer Page from all our football experts as all the major leagues across Europe reach their final and crucial few weeks.
As I mentioned in my preview of the Merseyside Derby, which you can read right here at SBRForum.com, Spurs, along with Everton, will be hoping that Chelsea lose at Old Trafford Sunday at the home of the newly crowned EPL Champions, especially as both those sides have to visit Chelsea yet and need that gap to close.
Southampton will face two other relegation threatened sides in their final two games of the season and so are in real danger still, depending so much on how other results go is not how to survive in the EPL and so I expect quite a few unexpected scores at both ends of the table as teams fight for their lives against those fighting to be in Europe next term.
Also, check out my tips & predictions for when Liverpool and Everton hit the pitch.
Newly crowned PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year Gareth Bale is of course the talisman for Tottenham and with 23 goals this season, including one in the 2-1 defeat of Southampton back in October, deservedly so. He is 7/2 to score first or last and 4/1 to hit a double this weekend with William Hill and I would not be at all surprised to see him do just that!
A repeat of that 2-1 scoreline to Tottenham this time is at 15/2 with Ladbrokes who have the Saints at 18/1 to reverse that score and earn all three points to secure outright safety.
Bale has been more than helped with the 15 goals Jermain Defoe and 11 goals Clint Dempsey have contributed, and with 11 other players scoring too, goals has not been a problem this season. Drawing has, drawing from winning positions has, conceding more goals in the last ten minutes than any other team has.
Tottenham would be EPL Champions this season if football matches were 80 minutes long. Fact!
Talking of draws, Spurs have drawn four of their last five games by the same score of 2-2, so if you think they will make it five from six then 2-2 at 16/1 is the price with bet365, William Hill and Ladbrokes.
Sandwiched among those four draws were a 2-1 win at Swansea and a 3-1 home victory over (then) Champions Man City where they scored three times in six or seven minutes. Potent!
One clean sheet and 19 goals their last ten games for Spurs and the Saints netting in seven of their last ten should have you all ignoring the 0-0 bore-draw at 14/1 with bet365.
So undefeated in six games and wins over top opposition, but draws are not enough for Spurs anymore, with the race for 3rd and 4th so tight and they have not put together back to back wins since early March, winning four and losing two of their last ten in that time.
What's going on in Europe League?
Southampton have their own talisman in Ricky Lambert who has hit 14 goals this season and with Jay Rodriguez (9) and Jason Puncheon (6) backing him up well, the Saints are the top scorers in the league outside the top seven! They also have some note-able scalps in 2013 having beaten Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea since the turn of the year.
Lambert and Jay Rodriguez are both 10/3 to score anytime with William Hill, a good bet as I can see goals in this one with two attacking sides on show who both score goals. The over 2.5 at 1/2 has no value for me but the over 3.5 at 6/4 and even the over 4.5 at 10/3 are well worth a flutter.
Spurs have reversed the trend and come back to draw and win games they are losing of late, their last four outings in fact, instead of giving up leads they have led, trailed then drawn or trailed then won. So fighting spirit is not a problem here (for either team) either. It will be a battle and in my opinion there will be goals!
I am leaning towards a Tottenham victory for this soccer pick, and a nervous final two weeks for Southampton though I expect them to be saved by other results if they cannot force the issue themselves!
Home win for me at 4/9 with bet365 a correct score of 3-1 at 10/1 with William Hill and bet365 and the over 3.5 at 6/4 with William Hill.