Southampton v Brighton
Thursday 16 July, 20:15
Live on BT Sport
Southampton look likely to end the season with bragging rights on the south coast in terms of league position and they are looking to do the double over Brighton, having won the reverse fixture 2-0, although that match swung in their favour when the home side were reduced to 10 men after half an hour.
That match was the third of the campaign, way back on August 24, and the return bout in this highly unusual season comes almost 11 months later.
There has been no sign of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side coasting to the finish line in mid-table as they fought hard to grab a stoppage-time equaliser from Michael Obafemi in a 2-2 draw at Manchester United on Monday night and are now unbeaten in four games.
Obafemi was in the starting line-up for the first two games after the resumption and his goal off the bench might win him back his place ahead of Che Adams and Shane Long.
Brighton quickly did enough to secure safety with two wins and a draw from their first four games after the resumption.
Those results were important because in their other three matches they have been soundly thumped at home against elite opponents Manchester United (3-0), Liverpool (3-1) and Manchester City (5-0).
While that points to a lack of top-end quality, Graham Potter’s side are competitive against the majority of teams and have lost only three out of 11 against sides below the elite since the turn of the year.
Southampton have to be assessed on their form since the Christmas period, which has taken them from prime relegation candidates to mid-table comfort.
They have produced top-six form over a sustained stretch with a record of W9 D3 L6 in their last 18 matches and there has been no let-up since the resumption with figures of W3 D2 L1.
The issue is that they are still a better away side and their home record since Christmas is a relatively mediocre W3 D1 L4, although most of those games have been against top-half teams.
Brighton are unbeaten in their last five league games on the road, drawing against West Ham (3-3), Sheffield United (1-1), Wolves (0-0) and Leicester (0-0) and latterly beating bottom club Norwich 1-0.
It is a solid enough set of results but not particularly eyecatching in terms of goal threat and it is questionable whether they have enough in attack to trouble the Saints.
The Seagulls’ standout away result was the 2-1 win at Arsenal in early December but that came against a team in crisis, as did their other wins at Watford on the opening day of the season and at Norwich.
Their best hope here is to keep it tight but it is difficult to call them as winners.
In truth, the same goes for Southampton given their home form but they have the edge and rather than the win at [2.24] it might be worth taking a chance on something at bigger odds.
The selection is Southampton off -1 on the Asian handicap [3.65]. That needs them to win but is no bet if their winning margin is a single goal and a winning bet if they win by two or more.
The Saints have scored two or more in three of their six games since the resumption (albeit all away) and their lower scores have been against better teams than Brighton.
Southampton have a slight tilt towards over 2.5 goals at home this season but most of the high-scoring games were during their calamitous early months of the campaign.
Since Christmas six of their eight home games have had under 2.5 goals.
Brighton have a near even split of unders/overs on the road, with over 2.5 goals just edging it at 53%.
The balance shifts back towards unders against teams below the elite but not by much.
Under 2.5 goals is clear favourite at [1.78] but it is not an easy call.
Brighton are unbeaten in their last five Premier League away games (W1 D4), keeping a clean sheet in each of their last three. No side is on a longer current unbeaten run on the road in the competition, while the Seagulls are looking to pick up consecutive away wins for the first time since November 2017. The visitors are [10.5] for a 1-0 win.