Southampton vs West Ham
Venue: St Mary’s
Referee: David Coote
Southampton host a buoyant West Ham yet to be defeated in the Premier League this campaign.Embed from Getty Images
Judging by both sides’ performances this season, it should be an entertaining affair at St Mary’s this weekend. The hosts Southampton, face off against second-place side West Ham. The sides have seen mixed fortunes this season, with Southampton yet to win a fixture and the hammers yet to lose one. Neither side has managed to keep a clean sheet, meaning there could be goals both ways.
Southampton head into the affair off the back of two consecutive draws against Manchester United and Newcastle. Whilst many would argue the Saints’ draw against united was a good result for the south coast side, their last gasp equaliser against Newcastle highlighted some deficiencies that need to be addressed. The Saints were the dominant side, with 64% possession and 22 shots compared to Newcastle’s 10, yet struggled to break down one of the league’s worst defences.
Although it may not appear at first glance, Ralf Hasenhuttl has a fantastic opportunity to go about setting this right against West ham this weekend. The Hammers are yet to keep a clean sheet in their three games this campaign, gaining victories by significantly outscoring their opponents rather than focusing on defensive solidity. It can be argued they’ve faced some of the league’s weaker sides, with their most recognisable challenge against Leicester skewed by an early Çağlar Söyüncü red card. Their draw against Crystal Palace highlighted how their defensive frailty could hamper their performance; Hasenhuttl must exploit this if he is to secure the Saint’s first victory of the season.Embed from Getty Images
Adam Armstrong will be the key to Southampton’s success against the Hammers. Having scoring 22 minutes into his Premier League debut, the Englishman has settled into his role at St Mary’s well, replacing the Aston Villa-bound Danny Ings. Armstrong demonstrated in his debut game against Everton that he is able to take chances on the counter, which will be important against a West Ham side who will look to dominate the run of play.
Southampton’s opponents West Ham have continued this season where they left off the last, in fantastic form and pushing for the champions league places. Their 20/21 campaign under Moyes was an antithesis of their relegation-threatened 19/20 campaign, and the Scot looks to have stepped the Stratford-based club up yet another gear this season. A plethora of new arrivals will only strengthen an already competitive squad, giving Hammers fans hope of yet another top-six finish.
The London side hasn’t struggled to find the back of the net this campaign, a key contributing factor to their early success. The side is joint top in the division for goals scored, equal with reigning champions Manchester City on 10 goals. Their goalscoring success is owed to the main striker Michail Antonio, who has already scored four times for the London Side. However, with his switch of allegiance to Jamaica, the international break will have done the 31-year-old no favours, having completed a 10,500-mile round trip to play 70 minutes for his country. With Europa League games on top of exhausting international trips, West Ham must be cautious of their striker’s past hamstring issues, with no recognised backup striker coming in over the summer. With this in mind, Antonio could see his minutes shortened against Southampton.Embed from Getty Images
Looking ahead to the affair, Moyes will most likely be looking to improve his side’s defensive stability whilst maintaining their dangerous attacking play. The summer signing of Kurt Zouma will undoubtedly reinforce an already capable backline, with the Frenchman expected to slot straight into the Hammer’s defence. Moyes must be wary of Southampton’s strength in set plays and counterattacks, both of which have been the south coast side’s main source of goals this campaign.
Will Smallbone and Stuart Armstrong will both remain unavailable for the West Ham clash.
New signings Kurt Zouma, Nikola Vlasic and Alex Kral could make the matchday squad. Arthur Masuaku could be named on the bench following continued rh=ehab from a knee injury.
Predicted Starting XIs
Southampton (4-4-2): McCarthy; Livramento, Stephens, Salisu, Walker-Peters; Elyonoussi, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Djenepo; Adams, Armstrong
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Coufal, Zouma, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Fornals, Benrahma; Antonio
Predicted Score: Southampton 1-2 West Ham
The Hamers will look to put their disappointing draw against Crystal Palace right against a Southampton side yet to win in the league this campaign. The London outfit has been one of the league’s most impressive sides so far and should be able to continue this form following the international break. West ham to win this one.