Norwich City vs SouthamptonEnglish Premier League, KO: 18:00 Jun 19, 2020, Carrow Road
NORWICH looked doomed to the drop before the coronavirus lockdown but will be hoping a win against Southampton in their first game back can provide the springboard for a great escape.
While most pundits have written off the Canaries, they are only two wins away from potential safety and with fixtures coming thick and fast they can climb to safety if they find some momentum.
But you get the feeling this is a must-win game, along with their clashes against fellow strugglers Brighton, Watford and West Ham.
Daniel Farke's men claimed just one victory in their six league games before lockdown yet they were unlucky in a lot of those matches and the only time they were outclassed was in a 3-0 loss to Wolves.
Southampton's form was just as poor before football was forced to stop, winning just once in seven games in all competitions. But they still sit seven points clear of the drop zone thanks to some fine results in the winter.
Boss Ralph Hasenhuttl (below) signed a new four-year deal during lockdown but will know he needs to secure survival this season before he can start planning for the future at St Mary's.
How the bookies view it
Southampton are the favourites with Hasenhuttl's men a best 5/4 with Unibet while Norwich are available at 23/10 with Genting. This is a hard one to call and the draw might be worth considering at 13/5 with Unibet.
Recent head to head
Southampton are unbeaten in their last three games against Norwich, winning twice at St Mary's since a 2-2 draw in Norfolk. Their clash earlier this season ended in a 2-1 win for Hasenhuttl's side (below).
But Norwich have a decent home record in this fixture, going four unbeaten against Saints since a 2-0 loss a decade ago when these clubs were both in League One.
Players to watch
Saints midfielder Stuart Armstrong scored a double in a recent friendly win over Bristol City so his confidence should be high heading into this one.
The Scotland star is 4/1 with Paddy Power for a goal and that is tempting, especially with star striker Danny Ings not offering great value at evens with the same firm.
Mystery still surrounds the Norwich player who tested positive for coronavirus, with the club yet to reveal his identity. That player has now returned a negative sample but will still miss the clash with Saints due to league protocols.
I was impressed by young winger Todd Cantwell earlier in the season so I'm going to pick him out for a Canaries goal at 11/4 with Genting.
Anything else catch the eye?
Both Southampton goals in their win over Norwich earlier this season came from James Ward-Prowse set-piece deliveries. Ladbrokes price the midfielder at 16/5 for an assist here and that looks good value.
William Hill price over one Norwich corner in each half at 19/20 and that also seems well worth a punt. Four of the Canaries' last six games have seen under 1.5 goals, including a 1-0 loss to Liverpool that was far less entertaining than I backed it to be.
Under 2.5 goals pays 11/10 with Betfred and that could come up if both teams are lacking sharpness in front of goal.
This English Premier League match between Norwich City and Southampton will be played on Jun 19, 2020 and kick off at 18:00. Check below for our tipsters best Norwich City vs Southampton prediction.