Saints and Reds set for a key battle

Harry Kane
Harry Kane

We’re now entering the stage in the season where individual matches can be hugely significant.

And in the context of the race for a Champions League place, Southampton’s showdown with Liverpool at the St Mary’s Stadium is one such encounter.

Victory for Saints, priced at 13/8 by Paddy Power, would make it an uphill struggle for the Reds to ultimately finish in the top four but a triumph for Brendan Rodgers’s troops, available via BetVictor at 19/10 would tighten things up considerably and keep the visitors right in the hunt.

Rejuvenated Liverpool are unbeaten in nine Premier League outings, so they head to the south coast full of confidence and it would take a brave punter to oppose them.

Saints, meanwhile, have lost only once in their last nine and enjoy home advantage so there’s little to separate the pair – subsequently, Stan James’s 12/5 about a tight affair finishing all-square has to get the nod.

Taking that a touch further, bet365 mark 7/2 against a score draw and betway quote the vital clash at 6/1 to end one-each in a match that looks decent value at 4/5 (Ladbrokes) to generate fewer than three goals.

Staying with the scoring theme and Liverpool’s fit-again front man Daniel Sturridge is rediscovering his sharpness and he’s worth an interest at 6/4 via William Hill to find the net, just as he did when the pair met at Anfield on the campaign’s opening day.

Another man capable of getting on the scoresheet is Tottenham’s unstoppable striker Harry Kane, who chalk up at 11/10 to add to his tally against West Ham.

Kane is bet365’s7/2 favourite to break the deadlock but Spurs boss Maurico Pochettino won’t care who bags the goals, as long as his team strengthen their own top four hopes with a victory.

They’re odds-on at 4/5 courtesy of Stan James to do so and BetVictor offer 3/1 about a home triumph by a one-goal margin.

At Selhurst Park, Arsenal are also 4/5, this time with Skybet, to get the better of a resilient Crystal Palace outfit and like their north London neighbours, they should be considered to edge it by one, an outcome BetVictor offer at 29/10 in this contest.

The other side in the mix for a Champions League berth, Manchester United, are Stan James’s even money jollies as they travel to Swansea but Louis Van Gaal’s charges might have to settle for a point (13/5, bet365) at the Liberty Stadium, where it’s 13/2 at betway to finish 1-1.

At the top, William Hill price leaders Chelsea at a prohibitively skinny 1/5 to overcome Burnley so punters would be better off backing the hosts at 9/10 (BetVictor) to defeat the Clarets ‘to nil’.

Manchester City are just 3/10 with Stan James to maintain their pursuit of Jose Mourinho’s men by beating Newcastle at Eastlands and a 3-1 win for the hosts is one for the speculative at 11/1 courtesy of bet365.

Elsewhere, Everton (4/5, Stan James) should be too strong for rock-bottom Leicester, Skybet post 13/8 against Tim Sherwood inspiring Aston Villa to another victory, this time over Stoke and Ladbrokes’s 21/10 for West Brom to prevail at Sunderland looks far too big.

At the KC Stadium finally, the six-pointer between Hull and QPR is 9/4 (betway) to prove inconclusive.

Rugby League’s World Club Challenge gets under way this weekend with Warrington expected to do the business against St George Illawarra Dragons tomorrow (Friday).

The Wolves are BetVictor’s 1/2 favourites to make a winning start to the competition and they’re 10/11 at Stan James when kicking off six points behind their Australian opponents.

Saturday sees Wigan host Brisbane and again it’s the Super League outfit that get the nod, Skybet rating them at 4/7.

The Warriors are worth considering at even money (bet365) to triumph by four or more in the handicaps but their rivals St Helens might find the going tougher in Sunday’s contest.

The Grand Final winners are 8/13 courtesy of Paddy Power to succumb to a defeat at the hands of South Sydney, who betway price at 9/10 to cover the Saints’ four-point start.

England were well beaten in their World Cup opener against Australia and they could be set for a second defeat, at the hands of joint hosts New Zealand.

The Black Caps are’s 8/15 jollies while Eoin Morgan’s men are a 13/8 chance at Ladbrokes.

Bet of the week: Southampton and Liverpool to draw – 12/5 (Stan James).

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