It's a festive Premier League clash for Southampton on Thursday evening, as they host West Ham United. Get ready for it by checking out our in-depth preview, in association with SportPesa...
Southampton vs West Ham
St Mary's Stadium
Thursday 27th December
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
What a difference a couple of weeks makes!
For Saints, this is again a chance to draw on the outpour of positivity that continues to flow from the appointment of manager Ralph Hasenhüttl last month, and utilise the confidence gleaned from back-to-back Premier League victories - for the first time since April 2017.
The table looks considerably more favourable now, with maximum points from recent meetings with Arsenal and Huddersfield allowing Saints to edge away from the drop zone, but still with plenty of work to do to remain above the bottom three.
West Ham will be hoping to respond to Saturday's blip, after slipping to surprise defeat at home to Watford, having picked up four successive wins previously.
Southampton: The hosts will be without midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who is serving a one-match suspension after accumulating five yellow cards.
There's unlikely to be any further changes to the side that saw off Huddersfield, but teenage striker Michael Obafemi may hope to have earned himself more game time, after becoming Saints' youngest ever Premier League scorer on Saturday.
West Ham: Late fitness tests will be conducted on both Fabian Balbuena and Chicharito to determine whether they'll play a part, while there might be a recall for Lucas Perez after missing out in the last couple of games. Key man Marko Arnautovic is also in the running to return.
Jack Wilshere (ankle), Winston Reid, Manuel Lanzini, Carlos Sanchez (all knee), Ryan Fredericks (shin) and Andriy Yarmolenko (Achilles) all remain injured.
ralph Hasenhüttlwe have a few young players now in the team that are developing. that's what the philosophy of this club is about.
on promoting saints' youth
Southampton's last five
Huddersfield (a) W 3-1 (Redmond, Ings, Obafemi)
Arsenal (h) W 3-2 (Ings 2, Austin)
Cardiff (a) L 0-1
Tottenham (a) L 1-3 (Austin)
Manchester United (h) D 2-2 (Armstrong, Cédric)
West Ham's last five
Watford (h) L 2-0
Fulham (a) W 2-0
Crystal Palace (h) W 3-2
Cardiff City (h) W 3-1
Newcastle (a) W 3-0
His first taste of St Mary's was a memorable one, and Ralph Hasenhüttl is hoping his next experience of Southampton's home stadium will provide another special memory.
"It was a pleasure for me to come into this stadium and for us to play in front of our supporters," he said.
"I hope we will give them another special moment in this season, against West Ham, and then against Man City. I think it's fantastic now that we are three points above the relegation zone. You never thought that could be happening two weeks ago, so we are very proud now, but we know this is only the start of a long journey until the summer, and there is still hard work to do."
Manuel Pellegrini: “We know that we have to play a good game against a team who have won their last two, but we will try to recover the points we lost at home to try to add three more. The injuries are a big problem, but we need to trust the squad and try to make a good rotation for the players."
Danny Ings' recent injury lay-off appears to have had no bearing on his ability to find the net, as he took his seasonal tally to eight against Huddersfield.
Nathan Redmond was also on target for Saints' opener, while providing the assist for Michael Obafemi's first ever Premier League strike, and both may have a vital part to play if this winning run is to continue.
Redmond has been one of Saints' most influential players going forward, and now, with his impressive performances starting to reap tangible rewards, will undoubtedly be hungry for more.
West Ham: There's no doubt that the Londoners have several goal threats among their ranks, although their most prolific, Marko Arnautovic, is struggling with an ongoing thigh issue.
Saints are the only side Pellegrini's Hammers are yet to face this season with just two games of the calendar year remaining, and having drawn blank last time out against Watford, may call upon some fresh faces.
Lucas Perez is an option, as is Andy Carroll, with neither enjoying much game time of late, although there has been considerable attacking threat from a revived Robert Snodgrass in recent weeks, as well as club record signing Felipe Anderson, who has six goals and two assists in his first 18 Premier League appearances.
Southampton and West Ham share a similar record in recent years, winning their home fixtures against one another last season.
The campaign before, they each won their away leg, and then, a season earlier, reverted back to winning home ties.
West Ham: 75
DID YOU KNOW
- Southampton have only lost one of their previous nine home league games against West Ham (W4 D4), with that lone defeat coming in February 2017 (1-3).
- After winning their first ever away game at Southampton in the Premier League (2-0 in November 1993), West Ham have won just two of 15 such games since (D6 L7).
- Charlie Austin has never scored a Premier League goal on a Thursday (two games) but has scored on every other day of the week during his Premier League career. Should he score in his match, he'd be the 26th different player to score on every day of the week in the Premier League.
NOT AT THE GAME?
Never fear! We’ll be there to bring you all of the action, as well as a host of behind-the-scenes access.
Check out our interactive match centre at southamptonfc.com, with all of the live in-game updates and free audio commentary of the match.
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