|West Ham United 2 v 3 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 26th December 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton At West Ham United The Preview
Sunday, 26th Dec 2021 09:18
Can Saints break the run of poor results at the London Stadium when they take on a Hammers side that have found a new lease of life under David Moyes in the last 18 months or so. The injured are returning for Saints who will make the line up?
When Saints travelled to West Ham just before lockdown in March 2020, the Hammers were in big trouble and protests were taking place and threats were being issued from some factions against members of the board.
Another poor performance in East London saw us crash to a 3-1 defeat and the Hammers eventually achieved safety in the final week of the season.
The turn around at the club has been amazing since with a top 6 finish last season and the club up there in that position this season.
This will be the sixth visit to the London Stadium, the first one ended in a 3-0 win for us, but the next four were not so fruitful, the Hammers scoring three goals on each occasion and that goal in February 2020 being the only reply in the quartet of games.
So perhaps we are due a result up there, mind you I said that in the previews at Everton & Arsenal and that didn't go well.
Ralph Hasenhuttl's side have drawn 3 and lost 2 of the last 5 games and the Hammers themselves have not fared much better, they too have lost twice, but they turned one of what would have been 3 draws into a win, something we should have done against Brighton.
The good news for Saints is that they have virtually a full squad to pick from, it seems only Alex McCarthy is not fit to join the squad with Che Adams, Stuart Armstrong, Adam Armstrong and Fraser Forster all back in training.
Ralph now has to decide how many of them are fit and ready to go and who should perhaps start on the bench.
The first of those decisions will be in goal where Willy Caballero has filled in for the last two games, at Arsenal he was understandably a little shaky not having played for over a year, but at Crystal Palace he put in a decent performance.
So will it be Caballero or will Fraser Forster return for Saints, certainly if he had of been fit he would have surely played in the last three games with Alex McCarthy badly out of form and costing us points.
This is a hard call and one that Ralph will not take lightly.
Another decision will be in the back four, at Palace Jan Bednarek dropped to the bench with Lyanco coming in and in the main the pairing of Salisu and Lyanco worked well, the manager has another call to make.
But when the team is announced the big call will be who comes in from the injury list, who will partner Armando Broja ? will it be Che Adams of Adam Armstrong or will Ralph stick with Nathan Tella who had a good game up at Selhurst Park, the good thing here is that we now have some options.
Stuart Armstrong is back in training but we don't know whether his calf injury is now completely cleared up and also what his core fitness levels are like, will he be fit enough to start or with eyes on the Spurs and Newcastle home games will Ralph hold him on the bench and use him sparingly.
West Ham's injury issues centre around Michail Antonio, the ex Saints loanee has been sidelined with Covid, but if he has tested negative in the last two days he could return to the squad, the question being just how much the illness affected him.
The London Stadium in recent years has joined Goodison Park and Highbury/The Emirates as a bogey ground, can we burst the West Ham Bubbles and get a result there for only the second time, it will be a tough ask
Photo: Action Images
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When Saturday Comes #22 by wessex_exile
It’s the 15th of January, and still the U’s are attempting to play their first home match of 2022. Weather looks good (check), players have returned from injury (check), no on-day Covid testing to get in the way (check), so barring fire famine or flood, I reckon we must have at least a 50:50 chance of a game at the JobServe this afternoon. Whether it’ll be three much-needed points or not, and if you’ll pardon the pun, I at least did see green shoots at the New Lawn on Tuesday. We still lost, and the table doesn’t lie, but definitely signs to encourage me that whilst it’s not going to be a comfortable journey, we’ll be alright by May.
When Saturday Comes #21 by wessex_exile
Here we are then, what should have been the first home game of 2022, and I discover seconds before posting this that the game is called off because of a waterlogged pitch. Having gone to the trouble of writing this, even though we’re not playing I’m going to post it anyway – it’s not like you’ve got anything else to do this afternoon.
When Saturday Comes #20 by wessex_exile
Finally, When Saturday Comes…and the U’s (for now at least) have a match to play. Mind you, I’m writing this on Friday afternoon, so there’s still time yet for yet another Covid/ injury postponement, I guess. I certainly hope not, as I’m planning on heading over to Crawley for this one. Mind you, now that the EFL have decreed there will be no on the day testing to eliminate the possibility of last-minute cancellations, I think I’ll defer buying a train ticket until this evening. Needless to say, a repeat of our last visit to Broadfield (The People’s Pension Stadium under the terms of a sponsorship deal) would do very nicely indeed.
When Saturday Comes #19 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes…and the U’s find themselves fixtureless again, following Hartlepool’s request to postpone the game because of positive Covid tests amongst their squad. To heap further fixture congestion problems on the U’s, in short order Forest Green Rovers did likewise for our already rearranged match at the New Lawn on Tuesday night, and for the same reason. They’re not on their own either, with in all (so far) four Premier League and 19 EFL matches postponed today – all for positive Covid tests in their squads.
When Saturday Comes #18 by wessex_exile
A little later than usual today I’m afraid – ‘tis the season to be jolly and all that, so I have just been out for the obligatory Xmas tree – bah humbug. Mind you, I was treated to the sight of literally hundreds of Santas (and the occasional elf) on a charity fun run through Calne on the way, which for want of a better expression was certainly surreal. Officially entitled Santa’s Scamper, the entry fee for participants goes to charitable causes, and to date the organisers have raised nearly £8k for charities such as Wiltshire Air Ambulance, Dorothy House, Hope for Tomorrow, Barnardos and of course their main charity every year, Hannah’s Trees – well done Santas!
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