Adkins can haunt former club

We're backing Reading to beat Southampton in our game-by-game preview of Saturday's Premier League action.

Last Updated: 06/04/13 at 13:41 Post Comment

It's Nigel Adkins' first home game in charge of Reading

It's Nigel Adkins' first home game in charge of Reading

The Royals play host to Southampton in a massive game in terms of their Premier League future but Andy Schooler feels they are worth backing under the circumstances.

Meanwhile, goals look to be in short supply when Norwich host Swansea at Carrow Road.

Here's out game-by-game preview of Saturday's programme:

Reading v Southampton (1245 BST)

I know Southampton have beaten Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea in recent weeks but I just can't be backing them at 5/4 to win any game away from St Mary's. They've won just twice in 15 on their travels this season, conceding 34 goals in the process, while under new boss Mauricio Pochettino it's two points from a possible 12. When you throw in the fact that Reading haven't actually been that bad at home, the away win price really looks poor. The Royals have lost just five of 15 fixtures at the Madejski where Sunderland, West Ham and West Brom have all been beaten. They are now at the win-or-bust stage and they will simply have to go for it. You can bet your bottom dollar the positive-thinking Nigel Adkins has been stressing this week that all is not lost ahead of meeting his former club. They may be seven points from safety but Reading's other April fixtures bring home games with Liverpool and QPR and an away trip to Norwich. There's no question points can be picked up this month but it has to start now. With a crowd given fresh hope and ready to get behind the new boss and given Saints' defence has been prone to crumble, Reading look the play here at more than 5/2. I realise the Royals have lost seven on the spin but the importance of the match makes it a price worth a punt. Some will fancy the draw-no-bet safety net but for me the win market is the way to go. A draw isn't enough for the hosts who will have to gamble if it's all square late on.

Verdict: Reading 2 Southampton 1

Win £90 with a free £10 bet if Reading win 2-1

Norwich v Swansea (1500)

Norwich fans must be beginning to worry. They've won just once in their last 14 games - an unfathomable 2-1 injury-time victory over Everton - and are now just four points above the drop zone. Their lack of goals of late is of particular concern. They've been kept out in seven of their last 10 with Grant Holt notably failing to back up his efforts from last season. January signing Luciano Becchio has not proved to be the answer and while Kei Kamara got the winner against Everton he's not netted since. To be fair, they've still been able to pick up the odd point with some solid defending so when you see Swansea have scored just one in their last six away games, under 2.5 goals begins to look a good way to bet. Michael Laudrup's men appear to be struggling for motivation. A trophy on the mantlepiece and mid-table security in the bag too, they've failed to shine since their Wembley Capital One Cup outing. They started sloppily against Spurs last week and unless they get their possession football going early here, expect Norwich to try to suffocate them by getting plenty behind the ball. Under 2.5 can be backed at 4/5 which seems a fair price.

Verdict: Norwich 0 Swansea 0

Win £100 with a free £10 bet if the match ends 0-0

Stoke v Aston Villa (1500)

Without wanting to sound repetitive, backing a side struggling so badly to pick up points at little more than even money does not look good business. The Potters have collected just five points in 2013 whereas Villa have had six from their last three games. They are at the very least putting up a decent fight in their battle against the drop and, given recent form, look worthy of consideration at the prices (3/1 for the win). Stoke, sitting only four points outside the relegation zone, need to halt their slide soon. However, they will get a chance to do so here, for set-piece threat is not something Villa have dealt with well this season. I mentioned last week how the visitors have managed to shoot themselves in the foot on a far too regular basis with defensive errors and they produced a timely reminder with Nathan Baker's daft challenge on Luis Suarez, one which ended up costing them a point. They have now gone 15 games without a clean sheet, something which makes picking up away victories somewhat diffcult. While Christian Benteke may well relish an aerial duel against the likes of Ryan Shawcross, he'll need support - something that's been lacking too often in Villa's away games. You can probably tell I've decided against siding with Villa and with Stoke so short, this looks a game worth swerving.

Verdict: Stoke 1 Aston Villa 1

Win £50 with a free £10 bet if the match ends 1-1

West Brom v Arsenal (1500)

West Brom fit the bill as a team you want to be playing at this time of the year. Despite a better-than-expected season, they are not going to be playing in Europe next term; neither are they going to be relegated. That was very much reflected at West Ham last weekend when the Baggies were well beaten and mentally didn't seem to be on the pace. Arsenal, on the other hand, are desperate for points at present as they chase down the top four. With confidence boosted by their ultimately fruitless win at Bayern Munich, they've since won back-to-back league games against Swansea and Reading to get right back into contention. The Gunners' better form and greater need is enough to convince me they'll win, although surprisingly the hosts have actually collected more home points than Spurs. Given that stat, Arsenal, no better than evens at time of writing and shortening, don't look great value, although the hosts will doubtless miss midfield blanket Youssouf Mulumbu after his ridiculous red card at Upton Park. If pushed to find something, the visitors to win by a single goal at 29/10 looks fair enough but it's not something I'm prepared to back with hard cash.

Verdict: West Brom 1 Arsenal 2

Win £75 with a free £10 bet if Arsenal win 2-1

The Reading match is being televised live in the UK on Sky Sports.

Click here for completely free £10 bet with Sky Bet

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments


hould have stayed because we carried him for 6.5 years. And then he has a breakthrough season, and was gone soon after. MU fans, you would be as disgusted had C Ronaldo left in 2007 and not 2009.

Is Van Persie Slipping Sadly Into The Night?


ood grief. Someone guessed that the form English player at the moment might be in his national side with some other players? And that's espionage? Now if they discovered that Emile Heskey was going to be in the starting line up.... at right back.... THAT would be espionage. Give it a rest Roy.

Hodgson hits out at Kane leak


e may get away with if Liverpool can swap the video with one of Skrtel dancing or something, but if they review the one shown on TV he's screwed.

Skrtel denies violent conduct

Footer 365

Wayne Rooney cannot wait to link up with Harry Kane for England

Wayne Rooney has been gripped by the excitement surrounding Harry Kane and can't wait to link up with him against Italy.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane to make first England start in Italy

Harry Kane will make his first start for England in Tuesday night's friendly in Italy, Roy Hodgson has confirmed.

Southampton striker Graziano Pelle starts for Italy against England in Turin

Southampton striker Graziano Pelle has been handed a start for Italy in their friendly against England in Turin.

Mail Box

It's All Just A Ruse By The 'Southern Press'...

A varied Tuesday morning Mailbox, with thoughts on the England U21s, a Sterling ruse, Kane realism, Wenger coaching youth and enjoying the charity match...

Can Wenger Coach Young Players Anymore?

One Mailboxer wonders whether Wenger has still got ability to bring through young talent. Plus £50m for Sterling, stop being matey with footballers and Blackpool...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company