Southampton seeking top four stay with victory over Hammers
Southampton will be aiming to move further ahead of their top four rivals, and add to their advantage in third place, with a triumph over West Ham United at St Mary’s.
Ronald Koeman’s Saints, 15/8 with Coral for a top four finish, host the high-flying Hammers who are also pushing for a spot among Europe’s elite next season.
Both teams have been surprise packages in the Premier League this term, with Koeman’s sensational side unexpectedly climbing to third, and Sam Allardyce’s East London outfit having spent most of the current campaign alongside the top-flight’s big guns.
Earlier in the season, it was Southampton who emerged victorious in the reverse fixture, overturning an early Mark Noble strike to claim an impressive 3-1 win on their travels.
Midfield maestro Morgan Schneiderlin netted a delightful double to regain the lead, before in-form Italian Graziano Pelle sealed all three points in the closing stages at Upton Park.
The superb Saints star Schneiderlin is 6/1 to strike again anytime, while the club’s clinical top scorer Pelle is 6/5 to add to his 13 goals this season anytime.
West Ham currently sit in eighth position, but face a tough task of toppling their opponents who have won six of their previous eight league fixtures, including three recent triumphs to nil. The super Saints are available at 9/5 to win to nil yet again.
The Hammers have not tasted victory in an away meeting at Southampton since November 2000, when Stuart Pearce and Frederic Kanoute both scored in a thrilling 3-2 result.
Dutch boss Koeman has some worrying absences ahead of West Ham’s visit, with his two senior left-backs both missing, as Ryan Bertrand is still suspended and Matt Targett picked up a head injury against QPR.
Southampton’s new loan singing Filip Djuricic could be set for his first involvement for the club if international clearance is given in time, with the Serbian starlet available at 11/4 to net anytime on his debut.
The travelling side have some injury concerns of their own, with towering targe tman Andy Carroll a possible absentee after a slight knee problem.
However, centre back James Tomkins is set to feature despite breaking his nose in the last outing, but fellow defender James Collins misses out. Toby Alderweireld will also be unable to play, meaning prolific poacher Pelle will fancy his chances of rediscovering his goalscoring form.
A win for Koeman’s side would see the Saints complete a domestic double over their London rivals for the first time since the 1997/98 campaign. The top flight’s third place outfit are 29/10 to win and both teams to score.
Allardyce’s Hammers are in a poor run of form away from Upton Park, winning just once in their last seven away league games and are without a clean sheet in 17 league outings.
Although, they have netted the Premier League’s most headed goals this season, with Diafra Sakho bagging five of those, two more than any other player in the division. The Senegal striker is 2/1 to strike again anytime at St Mary’s.
Victory for West Ham would see them possibly move closer to a place in next season’s Europa League, and they are 10/1 to secure a place in the top six this term.