Week 9 Premier League Picks for Southampton vs. Stoke City

Kevin Stott

Friday, October 24, 2014 1:58 PM GMT

Southampton has been the surprise of the English Premier League this season and Saturday the Saints host Stoke City in Week 8 action. With the odds so appealing, it’s time for a straight bet on the hosts.

Southampton vs. Stoke City, Saturday, (Premier League Extra Time/NBC Sports Live Extra (US) 16:00 CEST/10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT)
Hot on the heels of Chelsea and Manchester City in the English Premier League title race, third-place Southampton (5-1-2, 16 points) has been unbelievably good to start the new season despite the Saints (19 GF-5 GA) seeing a number of their stars head for theoretically greener pastures—many to Liverpool—as well as for some additional greenbacks over the recent summer transfer window. Here at home at St. Mary’s Stadium on Saturday in Week 9, Southampton will look to keep the beat going against a 15th-place Stoke City (2-2-3, 8 points) it has drawn with 4 straight times (2-2, 1-1, 1-1, 3-3).

Soccer odds have host Southampton at -150 (bet365) favorites over the visiting Potters (+170; Draw +240) with the popular Both Teams To Score prop priced at -120 for both the Yes and the No (bet365). The seldom discussed Winning Margin prop here has one interesting bet for Southampton To Win By 3 (+1200, bet365), similarly priced as the Exact Score prop wager with a Southampton winning 2-0 (+1200) wager (as predicted below) yielding a nice little return (12/1) should it hit. Plays like these are like lotto tickets, but like lotto tickets you can control in a couple of ways.

 

Stoke City
Mark Hughes and his Potters found themselves in 15th place and with just 6 goals after 7 games (0.857 gpg) heading into Week 8’s fixture against Swansea City at Britannia Stadium (results unavailable at publishing time). Although Stoke has had trouble scoring this season, at least goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has been solid and kept the Potters from actually being in the dreaded relegation zone but Southampton has only allowed 5 goals so far this season and so Peter Crouch (2 goals) and Stoke City (0-2-3 L5, 5 GF-9 GA at Southampton) will be hard-pressed to score and get quality shots on target.

Besides the omnipresent lanky veteran Crouch, the Potters have received goals from striker Mame Biram Diouf (2), Charlie Adam (1) and Ryan Shawcross (1), but if this team’s offense remains as anemic as it has been so far, it may indeed have to worry about relegation zone talk at some point. And getting 0 points here on the south coast of England is a real possibility against a red-hot Southampton side which exploded for 8 goals (last) Saturday in an 8-0 blasting of Sunderland at St. Mary’s. So, the Saints scored more goals against the Black Cats in one afternoon (8) than these Potters had all season (6) heading into Week 8, a statistic definitely worth pondering. And from Stoke’s perspective, it may feel the only way it can defeat, or maybe earn a tie with Southampton is to slow the game to a boring, possession-based pace and hope to squeeze a goal or two out somehow, probably through Crouch or Diouf or a Saints mistake.

If the Potters lost against the Swans on Sunday and then lose here to the Saints, then it may be a very long season for this team which showed much promise and finished in a respectable 9th place in the English Premier League table last season. And, worth noting here: These two teams will play four days later (Oct. 29) in the Capital One Cup at Stoke City.

 

Southampton
The Saints enjoyed their biggest win in the EPL ever in the aforementioned 8-0 humbling of Sunderland in Week 8 as goalkeeper Fraser Forster notched a clean sheet and Graziano Pellè (2 goals), Jack Cork, Dušan Tadic, Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mané all scored for the hosts and Southampton benefitted from two Black Cats own goals. Things definitely won’t come so easy for manager Ronald Koeman this coming weekend, but with the Saints at home and on a roll and possessing the best defense in all of England (5 goals allowed) and Southampton having guys like Steven Davis and Shane Long now probably itching for a goal after they were left out of the scoring column in the Sunderland Massacre, backing a believing Saints bunch at -150 is the bet here.

Southampton (4-4-2, 18 GF-15 GA) has only lost two times in its  last 10 meetings overall with Stoke City, and the Potters have had trouble scoring goals—a recipe for disaster heading in. And also, the Saints will enjoy one day more rest with Stoke City playing on Sunday.

In the 2-2 draw the last time these two met in league play last season here at St. Mary’s, Southampton held a 60% to 40% Time of Possession advantage and had 5 Shots on Target (7 off) to Stoke’s 4 (1 off). No matter what, the Potters will come in with a sense of desperation and that makes handicapping and betting on the Total Goals a hard thing in this particular match.

 

Best Betting Approaches
With scoring a big question mark, a Southampton To Score in First Half +120 (bet365) prop wager is hard to pull the trigger on for your soccer picks, but it somehow seems value-laden considering this team just put 8 goals up in their last outing. And the previously discussed Both Teams To Score prop (Yes -120, bet365) wager is enjoying an incredible seven-game run in this series with the four straight Draws (2-2, 1-1, 1-1 3-3), Stoke’s aforementioned last win (2008) in the series (3-2), a Southampton 3-2 win and a Stoke 2-1 win back in 2007 when Pluto was still a planet.

But the best, and most logical and simple approach here in this situation is to just lay the nominal lumber (-150) with the host Saints—get it early in the week as it will likely rise—as this team has allowed a microscopic 5 goals in 8 games (0.725 gpg) and they know they have to win and get all 3 points in games like these, especially at home, to have any chance of that magnificent dream of qualifying for a UEFA Champions League berth next year, especially with tougher games on the schedule (Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea) on the not-so-distant horizon. And Southampton’s current spot in third place in the table in the shadow of Blues and Sky Blues has to feel pretty good to this team which lost so much over the summer. Look for the hosts to get twice as many shots on target as the visitors in this game and continue to be the surprise team in England’s top flight of soccer heading into November.

Prediction: Southampton 2 Stoke City 0

Free Soccer Pick: Southampton -162 at Bet365