Europa League third round qualifier: Saints boss Koeman faces old club
Eredivise outfit Vitesse Arnhem hold the distinction of being Chelsea’s current feeder club and the former team of Southampton boss Ronald Koeman. It was his first foray into management after spells as assistant with the Dutch national team and Barcelona.
Now Koeman embarks on a European adventure with Saints enjoying home advantage as they enter the Europa League at its third round qualifying stage. Coral make Southampton odds-on 4/11 favourites to take a lead back to the Netherlands next week.
The only downside to Vitesse being a place where Jose Mourinho sends prospects out on loan is there is always significant turnover of squad members, though if any team can sympathise with that then it’s surely Saints.
Arnhem are 6/1 outsiders to pull off what would represent a major shock against their old coach Koeman, and are 3/1 to still be in this tie before taking Southampton to their place with a first leg draw.
Recent loan signing Steve Caulker cannot make his debut here, however, as he was not registered in time for this two-legged affair. That leaves Saints with just five senior defenders, including fellow new faces Cedric Soares and Cuco Martina.
Behind them should be Maarten Stekelenburg after the Dutch stopper signed on loan from Fulham as cover for injured first-choice keeper Fraser Forster. This new-look defensive unit at Southampton are 10/11 to win to nil.
There are doubts over attacking midfield duo Gaston Ramirez, back from a lukewarm stint with Hull City, and Dusan Tadic, but Spanish starlet and 5/1 first scorer shout Juanmi should support either Shane Long (2/1 anytime) or Graziano Pelle (evens in the same market) up top.
Senegal’s Sadio Mane and in-form Jay Rodriguez will likely get wide berths here, with the latter returning from injury with a vengeance after being prolific in pre-season. Odds of 4/1 say England cap Rodriguez will grab the opener. With so much quality in their ranks, Saints should establish a comfortable lead, and 2-0 is a tempting 24/5 price in the correct scoreline market.
English duo Lewis Baker and in particular Isaiah Brown, a tasty 10/3 anytime chance, will be ones to watch in midfield and attack for Vitesse, after being sent to Arnhem from Stamford Bridge. Georgian number 10 Valeri Kazaishvili could give new Saints anchorman Jordy Clasie a few problems too, and is 7/2 in the same market.