Preview: West Ham United vs. Southampton

Preview: West Ham United vs. Southampton

Two sides entrenched in the Premier League relegation zone face off in a pivotal six-pointer at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon as West Ham United host Southampton.

The Hammers sit two places and one point better off than their cellar-dwelling visitors, and victory for either side could lift them above the dreaded dotted line.

The unthinkable scenario of West Ham going all the way in the Europa Conference League while suffering demotion to the Championship is not beyond the realm of possibility, as David Moyes’s side return from the international break on a continental high.

With other teams’ FA Cup commitments extending their domestic break, West Ham’s last outing saw them hit AEK Larnaca for four without reply in the second leg of their Europa Conference League last-16 tie, as Jarrod Bowen bagged a brace alongside efforts from Gianluca Scamacca and Divin Mubama to seal a 6-0 aggregate thumping.

Attention will soon turn to their pair of quarter-final showdowns with Belgium giants Gent, meaning that Moyes’s side cannot remain solely focused on the Premier League relegation dogfight, where no fewer than nine teams are at risk of a bottom-three finish.

A 1-1 draw with Aston Villa on March 12 ensured that West Ham would enter the international period in 18th place, but the gap to Crystal Palace in 12th is only a mere three points, and the Hammers crucially boast at least a game in hand on all of their relegation rivals.

Not since defeat to Brentford in their final home fixture of 2022 have West Ham gone down in front of their own fans – embarking on a five-game unbeaten run at the London Stadium – but Southampton have recent when it comes to noteworthy results on the road.

The powers of James Ward-Prowse from dead-ball situations are well-documented, but the Saints captain elevated his set-piece game to new heights against Tottenham Hotspur, with his final kick of the ball triggering an explosive post-match rant from Antonio Conte and the Italian’s subsequent exit from the North London club.

Southampton were staring down the barrel of defeat at 3-1 down against Spurs at St Mary’s, but a reborn Theo Walcott reduced the deficit before Ainsley Maitland-Niles was felled by Pape Sarr – Ward-Prowse pushed his loyalties to best friend Fraser Forster to one side as he clinically found the top corner in a chaotic 3-3 draw.

Taking five points from 12 on offer against Leicester City, Spurs, Manchester United and Brentford can no doubt be viewed in a positive light by Southampton, but they remain rooted to the bottom in 20th place, and all the sides around them crucially boast at least one game in hand.

Ruben Selles witnessed his side hold Man United to a goalless draw in their most recent road outing, but they have just one goal to show from their last four Premier League showdowns away from home – the Ward-Prowse free kick that put Chelsea to the sword in February.

Southampton held West Ham to a 1-1 draw when the two sides locked horns at St Mary’s five months ago, extending their unbeaten run against the Hammers to four games in all tournaments since a comprehensive 3-0 defeat at the London Stadium in May 2021.

West Ham United Premier League form:

West Ham United form (all competitions):

Southampton Premier League form:

Southampton form (all competitions):

We say: West Ham United 1-0 Southampton
Facing a West Ham side with a resilient streak to protect at home will be a different kettle of fish to tackling a disjointed Tottenham side for Southampton, whose injury concerns in both thirds of the field could prove fatal.

Selles’s side have held their own against the big boys in recent weeks, but their ongoing lack of goals on rival turf could tip the scales in the Hammers’ favour, as Moyes’s side significantly boost their survival prospects at the expense of Southampton’s.

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