Two teams at the wrong end of the Premier League table – and with just two wins in ten between them – will do battle in Sunday teatime’s kick off when West Ham welcome Southampton to Olympic Park.
It’s hard to explain the decline in the Hammers’ performances this season after their exceptional showing last term, and with largely the same squad – albeit with a few injuries – they have gone from the stratosphere to the gutter in the space of a few months. The manner in which Slavan Bilic hauled off two players at half time in hide-s 2-4 reverse against Watford was indicative of the problems the Croat faces.
At Southampton a period of transition was always expected under new boss Claude Puel. The Frenchman brings his own methods as you might expect, and it has taken his young side some time to adjust. But with Charlie Austin rediscovering his shooting boots and the impressive performances of Nathan Redmond and Dusan Tadic catching the ye, the Saints could go marching on from hereon in.
But who will get the best of things on Sunday?
The big problem for West Ham appears to be settling into their new home. There were media reports that their supporters were fighting amongst themselves during that defeat to Watford, and if that is due to the cavernous nature of their new ground – the fans are an extraordinary distance from the pitch – meaning a lack of atmosphere, and these Hammers fans are as raucous as any you might find, then clearly that will be a huge problem for the club moving forward.
Southampton have no such concerns, and they showed last time out against Swansea just what they are capable of. The 1-0 scoreline doesn’t really tell the full story, as the Saints were in complete control for the majority of the fixture, and despite their ‘goals for’ column suggesting otherwise they do look virile in attack.
Their two away days so far have ended in defeat to Manchester United and Arsenal, but it is not beyond the pale to suggest that they deserved at least a point from both of those encounters. Against a rather more agreeable West Ham side – eleven goals conceded in their last three games – they should find hosts in a more generous mood. Expect Southampton to pile on the misery here at 17/10 with William Hill.
Defensive ineptitude, sharpness in attack has been the general theme for West Ham so far this season, as reflected by their respective tallies of seven scored, thirteen conceded in five starts.
The Saints have been rather more pragmatic, and yet they too have a bit of the devil in them: three of their five outings have witnessed both teams scoring, which is almost as impressive as West Ham’s 4/5. So, combined, 70% have delivered a BTTS verdict, and that is the next play here at 7/10 with Coral.
We won’t dwell on the next selection – Over 2.5 Goals is available at 19/20 with BetVictor, and instead focus on the likely architect. Nathan Redmond has excelled in a new central role for the Saints, and while he hasn’t netted since the opening day his all-round contribution has been in excellent. He’s also firing in an average of three shots per game, so we’ll take a chance on him finding the net here at 3/1 with Paddy Power.