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.

Derby to qualify

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Match in Focus

14:00 Su 18Aug SKY

Sheff Utd v Crystal Palace

Home WinDrawAway Win
Expert verdict
Crystal Palace held Everton to a goalless draw on the opening day and they could play out another low-scoring affair when they take on Sheffield United. Palace lacked guile last weekend while the Blades also look a little short going forward and may struggle to break their visitors down.