Championship betting preview: Seagulls to soar at St Mary's


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The Independent Football

Gus Poyet celebrates his second anniversary in charge of Brighton this weekend, and what better way to mark the occasion than with a repeat of how it all began? Take a chance on the Seagulls to beat Southampton at St Mary's on Saturday.

When the Uruguayan picked up the reins from Russell Slade back in November 2009, both of these clubs were languishing in the lower reaches of League One but all of the focus was on a Saints team rising up the table having overhauled a ten-point deduction for going into administration.

However, Albion were inspired that day as Poyet masterminded a shock 3-1 win in front of the television cameras to land odds of 11/2 about the away win. Now the circumstances are reminiscent with Southampton five points clear at the top of the Championship and Brighton losing their way after a fine start but, once again, the underdog role could suit the visitors, as might a fortnight to regroup and get their act together on the training ground.

This time, the away win can be backed at 13/2 and you can understand why when basing judgement purely on the evidence of the past two months, but we prefer to take a wider sample of the past two years during which time these two clubs have charted a remarkably similar path.

Indeed, it's easy to forget it was Brighton who were promoted as champions last season while Southampton were runners-up and the war of words that developed towards the end of that campaign adds another dimension to this fixture that will ensure the visitors refuse to be treated like second class citizens.

Poyet is an emotional character at the best of times and he didn't take too kindly to Nigel Adkins' assertion that winter postponements denied Saints the opportunity of lifting the title, the insinuation being that Brighton would have crumbled under the pressure had the Hampshire club been able to close in on them.

In fairness, Adkins might have had a point if acclimatisation to the Championship is anything to go by but his mind games could come back to haunt him now the boot is on the other foot and Southampton have their own lead at the top to protect.

Saints do, of course, have this incredible sequence of 19 consecutive victories on home soil and we suspect that accounts for much of the layers' desire to have them onside but the fact that Watford and Peterborough went off at shorter prices on recent visits to St Mary's offers some indictaion that the bookies are now reacting too heavily to the weather rather than the climate.

Momentum has been a major driving force behind Southampton's success so far and it's worth noting they took a little while to find their rhythm in games against Nottingham Forest and Derby coming off the back of the last two international breaks.

Brighton, by contrast, were switched on enough to register clean sheets at Bristol City and Hull on those respective weekends and we should fancy them to reap full reward if they can put up similar resistance on Saturday.

Recommended bet:

1pt Brighton to beat Southampton at 13/2 (general)

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