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Hard to ignore Southampton win claims against Stoke

Southampton visit troubled Stoke with a frankly implausible 18-point haul after nine Premier League games and at odds of 7/5 for the away win you must stick with the south coast side at the Britannia.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men have accrued more points than Man Utd and Man City with over a quarter of the season already gone and sit just outside the Champions League places in fifth.

While it is true that the Saints have not yet found their shooting boots – with only Spurs and Hull scoring less of the teams in the top ten – their meanest-in-the-league defence has only leaked a single strike on the road so far.

Add in straightforward victories against Barnsley and Bristol City in the Capital One Cup and Pochettino’s charges have now won seven of their 11 matches in all competitions in 2013/14.

They shouldn’t have much trouble making it eight out of 12 against Mark Hughes’ Potters, who have only beaten Premier League basement-dwellers Crystal Palace on their own turf in the top flight this term.

Although they gave a poor-performing Man Utd side a fright before finally succumbing to the champions last time out in the league they reverted back to awfulness at Birmingham in the Capital One Cup, blowing a 3-1 lead and being taken all the way to penalties by Lee Clarke’s men.

Southampton didn’t play in midweek and their extra freshness should help see them through in this fixture.

Rickie Lambert was back on the scoresheet against Fulham at St Mary’s and the England forward looks likeliest to break the deadlock here at odds of 6/1.

None of Southampton’s Premier League games this season have seen more than a brace of strikes rattle the onion bag.

That is unlikely to change when they face the least prolific home goal-getters in the division and the 8/15 odds on under 2.5 in the match are bound to deliver here.