Southampton v Sunderland - Saturday 15:00
Sunderland pressed high up the pitch against Middlesbrough and were exposed on the counter as they were beaten 2-1. Debutant centre-half Papy Djilobodji struggled positionally, John O’Shea had to go off injured and is not expected to return this week, Younes Kaboul has left for Watford, whilst Lamine Kone’s situation remains unresolved. As a result, David Moyes is down to the bare bones at the back, and while he may be tempted to play two up front having seen an improvement with this switch for the second half last week, most likely he will stick with a cautiously minded 4-2-3-1 to protect his depleted defence.
Following a chronic lack of summer investment, Sunderland look set for another grim season with Adnan Januzaj perhaps the only true bright spot so far. He gave Middlesbrough’s left-back George Friend a few problems with tricky footwork on the right, but with the slow Donald Love behind him, the Belgian probably can’t expect too much support in isolating the opposition full-back and teams will soon learn to double up on him.
Southampton continued playing their diamond formation last weekend, with Nathan Redmond and Shane Long up front and Dusan Tadic behind. Whilst they had their moments against Man Utd, Claude Puel’s side still lack a clinical edge, with Shane Long in particular guilty of fluffing his lines.
A home game against Sunderland represents a good opportunity for Southampton to register their first win of the season, however, and we’re backing them to be ahead at half-time on their way to all three points with Southampton/Southampton the result in 10 of their 11 home wins last term.