Fulham vs Southampton Odds, Pick | Premier League Match Preview
Bryn Lennon/Getty. Pictured: Southampton.
Fulham vs. Southampton Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-136 / +110)|
|Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)||(-164 / +128)|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up to the minute soccer odds here.|
Southampton may have a new manager but the Saints’ return to the Premier League on Boxing Day resulted in another defeat and dropped them into last place in the table. Nathan Jones will need to improve Southampton to keep them in the league next season, and that starts on Saturday morning in West London at Fulham.
The Cottagers continued their winning ways on Boxing Day with a 3-0 away victory at Crystal Palace, but they were the benefactors of two Palace red cards that effectively ended the match just before halftime. Fulham have been the biggest overachiever in the league as Marco Silva’s side sits in eighth place in the English top flight.
Sometimes the table can be misleading about the true strength of a team’s quality. In the case of these two teams, the team talent is much closer to even. The Saints are undervalued and this is a classic buy-low, sell-high spot at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Fulham Over-Performing to High Level
Fulham have surpassed any and all expectations after being promoted back to the Premier League. The Cottagers have shed the yo-yo club label but they’ve utilized some positive variance to be as high as they are in the table. The success starts with Aleksandar Mitrovic, who ranks third in expected goals (xG) per 90 in the league. He’s only behind Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez.
Mitrovic has carried the Fulham attack to the 10th most non-penalty xG per 90 this season. They rank 10th in shots and second in crosses completed into the penalty area. The Cottagers have a clear direct tactical plan to get the ball up the pitch into wide areas to score from crosses.
They’ve finished at a remarkably good rate for the last 18 months ago. Fulham finished 20% above their xG in the Championship last year and have continued that finishing this season in the Premier League. It’s a good attack but not one that should have the sixth-most goals in the league.
Southampton Slowly Improving in Relegation Battle
Southampton may have lost to Brighton, but the underlying performance wasn’t discouraging. Brighton had 25 attacking penalty area touches and managed just 0.6 xG. Sure, they scored three times and finished really well, but the Saints played close to even in the midfield with Brighton.
They had 19 attacking area touches and nearly equaled Brighton in passes into the penalty area. From a tackles and interceptions perspective, the game was roughly even. Southampton won on xG because of a penalty and the ensuing rebound finish, but the Saints shouldn’t be downgraded off of that defeat.
Southampton have only been 4 xG worse than their opponents this season. Because of poor finishing at one end and poor goalkeeping at the other, they have a -16 actual goal difference.
They may be dead last in the table, but that’s mostly because of unsustainable finishing against them. They rank just 13th in xG difference this season and they’ve suffered from the worst shot stopping in the entire Premier League.
Although you may not think Gavin Bazunu is a good shot-stopping goalkeeper, it’s impossible for him to continue to run as poorly as he has at this point in the season.
Fulham vs. Southampton Pick
One of the biggest weaknesses for Southampton all season long has been set pieces, but that isn’t really a strength for Fulham to exploit. The Saints are bottom two in xG per set piece created and allowed, but Fulham also sit in the bottom five in both categories.
I have the Saints as a slightly better team in my own power ratings, so even after accounting for home field advantage, I can’t get Fulham to an even-money home favorite.
The Cottagers are really bad at stopping crosses and that’s a major way that the Saints want to attack them. Southampton aren’t as bad as their results thus far and Fulham aren’t as good as their own.
Positive regression looms for Jones’ side. I’ll take Southampton +0.5 at -135 or better.
Pick: Southampton +0.5 (-120)