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Saints’ win proves they should not be written off in relegation battle

| 24.09.2012

Southampton’s thumping of Aston Villa has seen their price for relegation shorten, but they’re still favourites to be in the bottom three come the end of the season.

Ladbrokes have Nigel Adkins’ men at 17/20 to fall through the Premier League trapdoor, despite them showing their goalscoring prowess by firing four past a beleaguered Villa side who caved after the break.

Darren Bent’s goal had given the Villans the lead at the break, but the hosts came roaring back in front of a raucous St. Mary’s crowd and, Rickie Lambert in particular, made their opponents pay.

The former lower-league journeyman has taken to the domestic top table like a duck to water and his brace against Villa meant he finished the game as the joint-top scorer in the division.

This win was enough to lift Southampton out of the bottom three, briefly at least, but their fighting spirit proved to any doubters that they can mix it in the big league.

Reading’s 1-0 reverse at West Brom means their search for a league win continues and, at 4/6, they’re a much better bet than the Saints for relegation.

The Royals have had to face Chelsea away, but could have expected to have more points on the board at this stage, whereas Southampton were dealt an awful hand by the fixture generator to start their season.

Having weathered that particular storm and recovered to notch their first win, Saints will be looking to kick on the coming weeks, which will see their price stretch way into the realm of odds-against.

Brian McDermott’s squad, however, is still lacking in top-flight quality. The acquisition of Pavel Pogrebnyak looked steady business originally, but he didn’t fire after his initial purple patch at Fulham and won’t score enough goals to save their skins.

Anton Zingarevich’s Russian mega-bucks will be required to beef out a substandard squad once the transfer window reopens if Reading wish to avoid a swift return to the Championship.

Yet, this window is tough to flourish in and, therefore, punters should be looking to capitalise on Ladbrokes’ generosity while it lasts and back Reading for the drop.

All odds and markets correct as of publication



James Middleton