Super Saints can march into the semis
Southampton take on Charlton in what should be an entertaining Johnstone's Paint Trophy quarter-final tie.
The Saints seem to have a fresh impetus about them at the minute, and while Alan Pardew's team aren't solid defensively they've turned into one of the most prolific attacking teams in the division and were it not for their points deduction they would be challenging for the play-offs; as it is, they're still fighting to get out of the drop zone, but when they do they'll surely have a top six place in their sights.
It could've been a lot worse for the south coast side if it hadn't taken them eight games to get their first league win, but since then they haven't really looked back; losing just one match in their next eight league fixtures and also avenging Bristol Rovers' triumph at St Mary's with an FA Cup success over them at the weekend.
Southampton's return to form is in no small part to their exciting attacking options, Adam Lallana (13/2 to grab the first goal) provides pace and creativity, David Connolly (11/2) has experience and a composed touch in front of goal and in Rickie Lambert (5/1) the Saints have one of the best finishers in the division.
Of course it's a team game and it's not just these three that make the Saints tick, but certainly in recent weeks they have been responsible for an awful lot of Southampton's goals.
Charlton have almost had the reverse of Southampton's season, the Addicks won their first six league games and were joint top of the league, but since they lost their 100% record (ironically against Southampton) they have only won two out of their next nine league fixtures.
What's worse for Charlton is that the goals have dried up, in the last three games they've only scored from a penalty and an own goal, and in the FA Cup fixture against Northwich they were inept as an attacking force and should in all honesty have been beaten by more than the one goal that Wayne Riley scored, some outstanding saves from Darren Randolph kept the scoreline from looking more embarrassing for the Londoners.
That's why the hosts look to be a sure thing at 6/5, as mentioned before their defence is far from sound but if Charlton's strikers play like they did at the weekend you can't see them scoring - a Saints win to nil is a tempting 9/4. Southampton drew there last JPT game before progressing on penalties and for the game to finish level again is a 12/5, Phil Parkinson's team are 13/8 but it looks too short for me the way they are currently playing.
The main threat for the Saints obviously comes from Lambert but keep your eye on Michail Antonio; the winger started his first game since his loan from Reading in the FA Cup at the weekend and capped off a fine performance with the third goal in a 3-2 win, should he see plenty of the ball like he did against Bristol Rovers he could be great value at 12/1 to grab the opener, 5/1 just to score at anytime of the match.
Charlton's confidence in front of goal is low at the minute with their main strike force of Deon Burton (6/1 to score first) and Izale McLeod (7/1) only managing three goals between them in their last eight games. I would be looking further down the betting at captain Nicky Bailey to get on the scoresheet first, last season's top scorer is 9/1 to open the scoring, 10/3 to notch one at any point of the 90 minutes.
It promises to be a cracking game, make sure you join us to bet In-Play when the action gets underway on a huge range of markets.