Saints’ two game home stand to start the season continues on Saturday as West Ham visit St. Mary’s. The game was originally scheduled to have taken place at London Stadium though was switched due to clashes with the World Athletics Championships.
Saints go in to the game off of the back of a 0-0 draw with Swansea last week, in which Pellegrino’s side did everything but score. Notching 29 shots on goal, but an abysmal 2 of those were on target. Though the performance was more than encouraging, so they will be looking to kick on from last weeks foundations.
Whilst West Ham endured a 4-0 beating at the hands of Manchester United on Sunday. Frankly they were very poor so that means that thanks to the nature of football, they are bound to play well this week.
Manolo Gabbiadini – Whether he will start we can’t be sure, but he bagged his first goal for saints in the same fixture last season, and had a few good opportunities at the weekend. There’s no doubt he’ll be itching to hit the back of the net.
Javier Hernandez – No doubt a great finisher, and always a danger in and around the box, but got little to no service for West ham last week at Old Trafford. Could pose a real problem if the hammers turn up to play problem.
Mario Lemina – Set to debut for saints this weekend after making the bench last Saturday. The record signing will have something to prove.
Manuel Lanzini – The little Argentinian is always a danger, and the combination of him and Hernandez could be one to behold. Plus, with Andy Carroll on the sidelines (who always seems to score against us), somebody else needs to chip in with goals this year.
Our games with West Ham tend to be well fought affairs, throwing up a few surprises here and there. But, should saints play in the manor that they did last week and likewise for the irons, we should be set for a home win.
However, football is never played on paper so only 110% from either side will do. Both will be hungry for all three points on Saturday and I honestly believe we will see a fairly feisty affair.
West Ham’s beating at the hands of United last week showed many weaknesses the sides defense. And with no Antonio, their lack of pace on the wings showed. Mark Noble made Paul Pogba look like £80m worth and the team just didn’t have the legs to keep up with United’s counter-attacks. Although it remains to be seen whether that was just opening day jitters for the hammers.
And on another note, the game should see the return of Jose Fonte, who received an ‘icy’ reception from the saints faithful last time round. I for one am hoping that it’s not repeated this weekend – he was a great servant to the club, and though his transfer has left a salty taste in the mouth, we should focus on the new era we now have under Mauricio Pellegrino and the Gao family.
Finally, I hope that saints fans continue their brilliant support this weekend as they did last, and give the Gao family a warm welcome to our club. Ralph Krueger has publicly spoken this week about the change in tack the club has had in terms of retaining personnel, so if these boys will be with us for a long time, we should support them. No matter what.
Saturday marks the beginning of a new chapter in Southampton’s history, so lets hope that we’re all smiling on the South Coast come full-time. Or at least I will be, if I hear the “Andy Carroll you look like a horse” song ring around the ground. He may not be at the game, but he can hear it from the physio table in East London. COYS.
West Ham: 4/1