I feels like so much has happened since that woeful home loss to Stoke City two weeks ago, doesn’t it?
That Transfer Deadline Day fiasco, Carlton Cole’s on-off-on-off, Andy Carroll‘s on-off-on-off return from injury, the impressive win against Espanyol in Barcelona and the eventual signing of a much needed striker.
The addition of former Fulham forward Mladen Petric initially appeared to be a decent bit of business, until it was revealed he wasn’t match fit and was likely to start Sunday’s visit to Southampton on the bench. Another 45 minutes of Modibo Maiga awaits us.
That’s is with no disrespect to Maiga, though. It’s hardly his fault that Sam Allardyce doesn’t play to his strengths, nor is it his fault that all this pressure has been suddenly thrust upon him. I personally feel sorry for the poor soul.
Anyway, on to Sunday’s challenge, and it’s a fixture we never really do well in. We haven’t won at St. Mary’s in our last four visits and have managed just two goals, which doesn’t make good reading when you consider the problems we have in attack.
A repeat of last season’s 1-1 draw would be a very good result, as Southampton under Pochettino are even more organised than they were when Nigel Adkins was at the helm.
I suppose what we can expect is yet another strong display by Winston Reid and James Collins in defence. Both have been at their very best so far this season, while James Tomkins‘ performance against Espanyol will have kept them on their toes for sure.
The big debate ahead of this match is whether Ravel Morrison should start ahead of either Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan or Mohamed Diame. Who does he replace? My guess would be Diame. Nolan scores too many goals from midfield and, as skipper, is always going to be the first name on the team sheet, while Noble seems to just bounce of Nolan he plays alongside him. Diame can’t play a full 90 minutes, so you would expect him to replace Morrison with 20 minutes to go, or something like that. After all, we saw how effective he was off the bench on a couple of occasions last season.
Lastly, Southampton’s Rickie Lambert is one who’ll need to be stopped at all costs on Sunday. It will be his 200th Southampton appearance and he’s currently stuck on 199 career league goals. A goal from him is written in the stars, isn’t it? Players always reach milestones or break ducks against us.
Verdict: A backs-to-the-wall draw for the Hammers.
Southampton (10th, 4 points)
The Saints have no new injury concerns after the international break.
West Ham United (8th, 4 points)
Andy Carroll will miss out after he picked up another foot injury in the week, while new signing Mladen Petric is not yet match fit.
Last five meetings:
Possible starting XI:
Match in Numbers:
9 – Sam Allardyce is unbeaten in his last nine Premier League meetings with Southampton (W3, D 6).
4.7 – Saints midfielder James Ward-Prowse has averaged 4.7 crosses per game so far this season, which is a divisional high.
72.4 – The Hammers currently have the lowest pass completion rate (72.4%) in the Premier League this season.
938 – West Ham have attempted just 938 passes so far this season, which is the fewest in the Premier League this season.
1 – Sam Allardyce’s side have one just one of their last 15 Premier League games on the road.
17 – Southampton have committed more fouls than any other side in the Premier League so far this season (17).
2 – The Saints have lost just two of their last 10 home matches in the Premier League.
200 – Rickie Lambert is set to make his 200th appearance for Southampton.
200 – Lambert also needs just one more goal to make it 200 career league goals.
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