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Weblog: The football punter

Southampton v Derby FA Cup betting preview

FA Cup third-round replay
BBC1, 7.45pm Wednesday


Derby produced some excellent away performances in the League Cup last year, knocking out Manchester United and losing 3-2 to Chelsea, and they have a decent chance of beating an understrength Southampton side in their FA Cup third-round replay at St Mary's.

Frank Lampard's team were the innocent party in last week's astonishing spying scandal and the episode seemed to impact on their performance as they lost 2-0 at Leeds.

Lampard wasn't looking for excuses in his post-match interview Southampton were well below their usual standard and have to play a lot better if they are to stay in the hunt for promotion.

Finishing in the Sky Bet Championship's top six is Derby's main priority but they have showed plenty of hunger in the cups, including the first meeting with Southampton when they battled back from a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2.

Jack Marriott missed a late chance to win the game for Derby but it was a fair result after an evenly-balanced contest.

Another close match is on the cards and the markets may be giving too much respect to Southampton, who are odds-on favourites to progress without need for extra-time or penalties.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has had a positive six weeks in the Saints hotseat, leading them to three wins, one draw and three defeats in the Premier League.

But the busy spell has taken a toll on Southampton, who are without seven senior players.

Three of the absentees are strikers - injured duo Danny Ings and Michael Obafemi and banned Charlie Austin - leaving Hasenhuttl with a lack of attacking options.

He is relying heavily on Nathan Redmond, the scorer of four goals in the last six games, and Shane Long, who ended a personal 21-match goal drought with the second goal of Saturday's 2-1 triumph at Leicester.

Hasenhuttl was delighted with the victory over the Foxes, which was achieved despite the 45th-minute dismissal of right-back Yan Valery.

But the gutsy performance took a lot out of the players and Hasenhuttl may have to bear that in mind when selecting his starting line-up.

Derby have had an extra day to prepare and their squad looks a lot healthier.

Lampard may be reluctant to risk classy on-loan Liverpool winger Harry Wilson, who failed to prove his fitness in time to face Leeds.

But he has a strong pool of senior players to select from, including seasoned second-tier forwards David Nugent and Martyn Waghorn, who started on the bench at Leeds.

Derby will have an eye on Saturday's clash at home to Reading but they look better equipped than Saints to manage the workload and are overpriced to advance to the fourth round.

Recommendation
Derby to qualify

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Match in Focus

12:30 TODAY SKY

Man City v Tottenham

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Man City have lost only once at home in the Premier League this season.
Expert verdict
Following their Champions League humdinger, Manchester City and Tottenham reconvene in the Premier League and the game is unlikely to be anywhere near as pulsating. With City not needing to press for early goals, they can play their usual free-flowing game and make it seven wins in nine matches against top-six opposition this season. Only one of those eight meetings so far have featured over 4.5 goals and punters should expect a narrow win for Pep Guardiola's side.