Southampton vs Manchester City
Southampton have been a much talked about team over the past few weeks after replacing Nigel Adkins with Spaniard Mauricio Pochettino & then putting up an impressive performance, although ultimately losing, when facing Man Utd at Old Trafford, they've got a tough game at St Mary's in the day's late kickoff when they take on Manchester City.
(City have got rid of Balotelli & have Yaya Toure back - winners on all fronts)
Yaya is one of the finest midfielders in the world & can impose his will on nearly any side at will & could be coming up against Morgan Schneiderlin in this one in what looks a mismatch in favour of City man. Southampton have a few injury worries to key players with Adam Lallana a doubt & defenders Luke Shaw, Jose Fonte & Nathanial Clyne joining him. Record signing Gaston Ramires is another who may not play & with that list of injury worries it's looking like a bad time to face the current champions.
Pochettino hasn't yet eked out a win whilst in charge of Southampton & although they've looked far more resilient than when leaking goals at the start of the year we can't see anything other than a win for Manchester City & odds of 4/6 with BetVictor look fair. City have too many weapons & are able to break teams down through skill through the likes of David Silva & Sergio Aguero or through physical dominance from players like Yaya Toure & the underappreciated Edin Dzeko & they'll pounce on any defensive weakness.
Norwich City vs Fulham
Norwich against Fulham may not be the most glamorous tie of the season but this is an intriguing one & important for both as points have been thin on the ground for the two teams sat level in the table on 28 points. Norwich boss Chris Hughton also served 3 years as Jol's assistant whilst at Tottenham & the Canaries will be keen to gain revenge for a 5-0 drubbing on the opening day from their London opponents.
(Martin Jol is seeking a rare away Fulham win)
Norwich haven't won in their past 8 league games & haven't managed to score in 4 of those, with none of their players having managed more than 5 goals in all competitions & Grant Holt certainly hasn't looked so impressive as last year after failing to engineer a move away from Carrow Road. They're reasonable at the back but miss John Ruddy in goal (long term injury) & have injury concerns about usual starters Alex Tettey & Anthony Pilkington.
Fulham rarely pick up wins in away games & they've stuttered after a great start to the season when they won 5 of 9 but the signs have been a bit better in recent games with their only losses in their last 5 league games coming against the Manchester sides whilst gaining wins away at West Brom & at home against West Ham. They showed a lot of resistance last week against Man Utd, going down 1-0 to a late Rooney goal & they may have star player Dimitar Berbatov back for this after injury. Jol will also have found a bit of time to work with his January loan signings, of whom Urby Emanuelson & Emmanuel Frimpong look like they could be useful. Frimpong will certainly add a much needed bit of bite to the Fulham midfield & that could prove the area that they can better their hosts in this one.
Backing Fulham on the road is usually a sure way to the poor house but there have been encouraging signs in recent games whilst Norwich's form has slumped & they look bereft of attacking ideas, take the Cottagers to win at nice odds of 23/10. Checking the team sheets is advised in this game as Fulham did have more players on international duty, we jut think they've got a bit more going for them than Norwich who seem to be lacking in quality & confidence.
Manchester City to beat Southampton at 4/6 (BetVictor)
Fulham to beat Norwich at 23/10 (BetVictor)