EPL: Saints ambush Hammers

Southampton vs. West Ham United
Venue: St Mary’s Stadium
Kick off: 6:30PM

Southampton play host to West Ham United in the Premier League this evening with the opportunity to move above the visitors in the standings.
After the club’s disappointing run of form, Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini may lose his job with defeat at St Mary’s, a result which could potentially leave the club in the relegation zone.
While last weekend’s defeat to Newcastle United has left Southampton in the bottom three, Ralph Hasenhuttl will have remained optimistic that his side can get themselves out of trouble if they continue to produce a similar level of performance.
Despite being on the end of a second-half comeback from the Magpies, there were positives which could be taken from the game at St James’ Park, including another goal for Danny Ings.
However, the striker has now scored exactly half of Southampton’s 18 strikes in the top flight this season, suggesting that his teammates need to do more in the final third to aid the in-form 27-year-old.
Nevertheless, the Saints have now gone 11 games without keeping a clean sheet in the Premier League, a streak which cannot be prolonged in the long term if the club are to move away from the relegation zone.
While Hasenhuttl has seemingly bought himself some time in the Southampton dugout, the same cannot be said of Pellegrini, who is aware that he will likely be sacked if West Ham fall short on the South Coast.
The Chilean would have felt that his team had turned a corner when recording a 1-0 win at Chelsea on November 30, but the success at Stamford Bridge is West Ham’s only victory in 10 attempts.
A change of fortunes at the weekend could take the East Londoners as high as 12th position, although Pellegrini would realistically remain under pressure until a return to the top 10 is achieved.
With a 12-day break to follow Saturday’s match, the club’s hierarchy will inevitably view the break in action as the opportunity to fully assess the state of the club and whether Pellegrini is still seen as the man to take this squad forward.
Having been allocated major funds to turn West Ham into a top-six club, dropping further into a relegation fight will almost certainly lead to a change being made ahead of the next transfer window.
Southampton possible XI: McCarthy, Soares, Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand, Djenepo, Ward-Prowse, Hojberg, Redmond, Long, Ings.
West Ham United possible XI: Martin, Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Diop, Masuaku, Noble, Rice, Fornals, Snodgrass, Anderson, Haller.