Premier League Picks, Predictions | Southampton vs Fulham Preview
Paul Greenwood/Getty. Pictured: Southampton.
Southampton vs Fulham Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-114 / -109)|
|Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)||(-137 / +107)|
|Odds via BetRivers. Get the latest soccer odds here.|
Southampton will look for what would most likely be a consolation victory on Saturday when they host Fulham on a weekend when their Premier League relegation could become official.
The Saints begin the day eight points back of safety with three games to play, meaning the next time they drop points will seal their drop to the League Championship, regardless of other results. Even with a win, results elsewhere could put them too far adrift after a 10-match winless run (seven losses, three draws).
Fulham have had their place in next year’s top flight secure for several weeks but could face a motivational challenge in a season where little else is left up for grabs at this point. That said, they should be boosted by the return of leading scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic following an eight-match suspension for pushing an official during an FA Cup quarterfinal defeat to Manchester United.
Fulham won these teams’ previous meeting 2-1 at Craven Cottage on New Year’s Eve.
Southampton Dropping to Championship Due to Defensive Woes
If and when the Saints’ fate becomes official, it will ultimately be because of their inability to defend consistently at the Premier League level.
Early on, it appeared Southampton might be turning a corner in that department with the appointment of Ruben Selles first as caretaker and then eventually permanent manager. A 1-0 win at Chelsea on Feb. 18 began a four-game stretch where the Saints conceded only one goal, after a season in which they’d only kept one clean sheet before that date.
But the analytics showed Selles’ squad was fortunate more than good — they had allowed 5.2 xG in that stretch, including 3.5 across their shutout victories over Chelsea and Leicester City. Regression eventually came in a major way, as they conceded 23 goals and 18.9 xG over their last nine games.
Last Monday, they became the only Premier League opponent to concede more than three times to Nottingham Forest in a 4-3 away defeat that boosted the Trees’ own survival hopes. The Saints’ resiliency was impressive though, as they closed a two-goal deficit in half on three separate occasions despite falling short of a point.
Fulham Getting Boost From Star’s Return
The Cottagers have outperformed their -17.7 xG difference by nearly 19 goals this season, which has amounted to Fulham also being one of the most profitable teams for bettors.
And if Mitrovic’s eight-game absence confirmed anything, it’s that it wasn’t his presence that entirely explained that over-performance. Fulham played to a goal difference of precisely zero during his absence and an xG difference of -6.2 goals while without the 11-goal scorer.
Then again, nearly half those goals came from their most recent result, a 5-3 home win against Leicester on Monday. Willian and Tom Cairney each scored twice to help their side to 4-0 and 5-1 leads before the Foxes clawed a couple of goals back late.
And perhaps Fulham have struggled a bit more in trying to find the initial breakthrough without Mitrovic, going without a goal in four of the 14 league games he’s missed this season and in five of the 21 he’s played.
Southampton vs Fulham Pick
The xG data suggest Southampton should be a slight favorite at home. But the Saints have won only twice at the St. Mary’s all season. That not only matters in and of itself, but it also means they’ve been spending an awful lot of time playing from behind at home, which almost certainly inflates their xG difference there.
Meanwhile, despite the xG numbers that suggest good luck, Fulham have consistently solved the teams in the bottom half of the table, posting a 5-2-2 record (W-L-D) in such games away from home and a 10-3-5 in those games overall.
That’s a better than 50% win rate. That is worth backing on a moneyline wager at +155 odds and an implied 39.2% probability. At some point, the most important and informative data is the league table.
Pick: Fulham ML (+155 via BetRivers)
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