Not since 2001, during Glenn Hoddles time in charge, have Southampton won four straight Premier League games. In fact such a feat was considered unthinkable when they entered the top-flight arena guided by the steady hand of former manager Nigel Adkins. And while the club was largely chastised in the wake of his surprise dismissal it ultimately proved a shrewd decision. After a shaky start in the formative days of his tenure the Saints have hit stride under Mauricio Pochettino’s guidance. The Argentine has won rave reviews for the brand of football employed at St Mary’s with summer signing Jay Rodriguez, who has three goals in as many games, just one player benefitting from the changes instilled since his arrival. Pochettino now stands just one victory away from securing top-flight football for another year and will urge his side to make home advantage count.
The same can be said for West Ham who are locked on 37 points and sit a place behind Southampton in the table with a game in hand. The Hammers have enjoyed a positive run of late with victories over Stoke and West Brom, a defeat at Chelsea sandwiched in between, followed by an encouraging goalless draw at Liverpool last Sunday. That seven-point haul has pushed them closer to survival and eased any lingering relegation worries although manager Sam Allardyce still refuses to enter contract discussions until his side reach the 40-point safety net. And it’s difficult to blame Allardyce for leaving nothing to chance, given West Ham’s inconsistency this season. Not since March 2011 have they recorded back-to-back Premier League wins and have departed the South Coast empty handed on nine of their last 10 visits.
Luke Shaw, Jason Puncheon and Jay Rodriguez are all doubts for Southampton after coming down with a virus during the week. Other than that Mauricio Pochettino has a fully fit squad to choose from.
Andy Carroll is back for West Ham after he was ineligible for the game against parent club Liverpool. Midfield duo Joe Cole (hamstring) and Mark Noble (shoulder) are out as are defenders Winston Reid (hip) and George McCartney (knee).
What the managers said…
“I do not think it is something far-fetched if both Rickie and Jay are playing for England, as they have done really well recently. I think Jay has developed a lot in a football sense and I think he has great potential. He has a lot more to develop and has not reached his peak. He has more to give. To be able to play in the national side, you need more than just two months of playing well. If he is able to do that, than he is able to play internationally, for sure.” Mauricio Pochettino backs Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez to earn England call-ups (Daily Mirror)
“We may (have to) sneak the points total up maybe one or two more, but I certainly think 40 now is definitely going to be good enough. Wigan have put a run together, Southampton have put a run together, Aston Villa have done it. I thought probably 38 but if you’re going to be absolutely (sure), we’re going to still go to the golden 40 aren’t we.” Sam Allardyce is confident West Ham will hit the magic 40-point mark (Sky Sports)
Pre-Match Statistic: West Ham have lost each of the 10 away games in which they’ve fallen behind – the only Premier League team to do so.
Prediction: Southampton 2-1 West Ham United