West Ham vs Southampton – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Sunday 2nd April 2023
As part of our weekend Premier League predictions, we take a look at Southampton’s visit to West Ham. Despite their lowly league position, the Hammers are undefeated in 4 PL matches at home. Home win? Read on with our West Ham vs Southampton prediction.
West Ham vs Southampton Match Preview
Following the international break for Euro 2024 qualifying, Londoners West Ham meet South Coast side Southampton at the London Stadium. The Hammers come into the game in mediocre form. Indeed, they have only won one of their previous six games – a 4-0 win at home to Nottingham Forest in February. This run also includes comfortable defeats against Spurs and Brighton and 1-1 draws with Newcastle and Chelsea. Their game before the break was a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa, which given the Birmingham club’s form, can be considered a point gained.
West Ham have won five of 13 home games this season. Therefore, while they are not brilliant when hosting, they have been better than five other sides. However, sitting in 19th place with 24 points from 26 games, things look ominous for them. Fortunately, they have two or three games in hand over those above them, but whether they can collect anything in these surplus games remains to be seen. They are unbeaten in four at home, but coach David Moyes is under pressure and needs points on the board.
Bottom club Southampton travel north knowing this is a meeting between the two lowest clubs in the division. Therefore, they are fully aware that defeat in this match is not an option if they wish to have any slim chance of retaining their Premier League status. The club are on a mini-run of decent form, having avoided defeat in four of their last six matches. Commendably, they drew at Old Trafford against Man Utd. They also won against Leicester and beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Their previous game was a high-scoring 3-3 draw against Spurs when they came from 3-1 down to eventually draw 3-3 with a stoppage time Ward-Prowse penalty.
Southampton are one of only two clubs that have obtained more points on the road than at home this season (Leicester are the other). Ruben Selles’s men have played 14 games, both home and away, and have 13 compared to ten in favour of the latter. Hence, going to London might not faze them. However, despite winning at the London Stadium last season, they had lost their four previous visits. With 23 points from 28 games, Southampton must maintain the form that has seen them collect eight points in their last six. They will maybe avoid relegation if they keep going at this rate, but it is a massive ask.
This match is clearly a six-pointer, and whichever team loses could be in enormous trouble.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play: Fabianski, Aguerd, Emerson, Scamacca, Antonio
Will Not Play:
Might Not Play: Salisu, Adams
Will Not Play: Bella-Kotchap, Livramento, Larios
West Ham vs Southampton Lineups (Predicted)
West Ham (4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3): Areola; Emerson, Aguerd, Zouma, Coufal; Rice, Soucek; Benrahma, Paqueta, Bowen; Ings
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Bazunu; Perraud, Salisu, Bednarek, Walker-Peters; Lavia, Ward-Prowse; Sulemana, Alcaraz, Walcott; Adams
West Ham vs Southampton Analysis
West Ham Must Try To Take The Initiative
The pattern is tricky to predict. It is quite an intriguing contest because neither team likes to (or is capable of) keep possession and stringing together passes. Indeed, West Ham’s average possession this season is 43.5 per cent, and Southampton’s is 45 per cent. These are some of the lowest stats in the league. Both teams are also in the bottom five for completed passes, with Southampton completing 9,206 and West Ham making 8,772 (in two games fewer). Therefore, it is apparent that neither team is the type that can get on the ball and dominate their opponents and pin them back for large spells of a game.
However, the onus is on West Ham here to try to take the game to Southampton and make things happen. West Ham are the home team and have the better players generally (though not by a significant margin), so they must try to pass the ball and create chances. Ironically, these potentially scrappy relegation battles often favour the team that doesn’t have possession, as counter-attack and breaking at pace are huge factors. Some might see this as a rudimentary or basic way of playing. Still, lower down the table where the quality is inferior, it makes sense to do it.
Therefore, West Ham must try to get Soucek and Rice on the ball in midfield, control the game, and pass the ball between the lines. The midfield battle between them, (and Paqueta) and Ward-Prowse, Lavia, and Alcaraz will likely be chaotic, with both teams pressing each other and squabbling for every inch of territory. We don’t anticipate this game being easy on the eye. However, if West Ham can get the ball into forward areas, Bowen, Paqueta, and Benrahma are tricky players who can cause issues for the Southampton wing-backs and centre-backs. Then they can try to get shots on goal to test Bazunu.
As West Ham are very adept at them, crosses and set pieces are also valuable weapons. Indeed, West Ham are third in delivered crosses in the league, and Ings is a poacher and predator in the middle who can sniff out crosses from wide and through balls. Thus, West Ham will look to their width to create chances.
Southampton Will Likely Defend Deep And Try To Counter
While there will be moments in this game where we expect mistakes galore and the ball to be treated like a hot potato, Southampton do have some technical players – chief among them being talisman Ward-Prowse. However, they do tend to concede possession, so while they will fight to win the ball back and launch into transitions with the pace or trickery of the likes of Alcaraz, Sulemana, Walcott, Elyounoussi and Stuart Armstrong, there will be moments where they need some possession to relieve any pressure West Ham might put them under. We expect them to often make things frustrating for the Hammers, though, and defend in a pretty low block so they can lure West Ham into their counter-attack trap.
When Southampton win the ball, the wing-backs (likely Perraud and Walker-Peters) are crucial to their game. They are athletic and can get up and down the pitch, offering extra protection defensively and more impetus in attack. Selles will require the trickery of his wide players to get crosses and passes into the box, and speed on the counter is a big weapon for them.
It isn’t controversial to say that Southampton’s biggest asset is Ward-Prowse’s right foot. The Englishman continues to score many goals directly from free kicks, and his delivery into the box from set plays is also extremely dangerous. Their tall, strong defenders love to come forward for corner kicks, and Southampton like to try to win them to take advantage of these situations and Ward-Prowse’s gifts. As with West Ham, set pieces will likely be integral to Southampton’s game plan.
This game is just tough to call. The quality is often lower in these six-pointers between relegation candidates due to inferior, less expensive squads and the pressure these games naturally entail. When playing against the better teams, the lower sides can see it as more of a ‘free hit’; they are expected to lose, and therefore anything they get is a bonus. Games like this are different because a defeat allows similar standard opposition to steal a march on you in the table.
Therefore, we envisage a cagey affair that might be low on attractive football and decided by a set piece, mistake, or magic moment. Both teams are good at conserving a lead, so this could be a match where the team that scores first runs out the winners. Indeed, whoever does so can subsequently counter-attack on the other as the trailing team becomes desperate and exposes themselves more. West Ham have scored plenty of goals against Southampton in recent meetings, but we see this being a low-scoring affair decided by one or two goals. We were going to predict 1-1 but we will back West Ham to get over the line. However, given Southampton’s wild card in Ward-Prowse, West Ham can’t afford to concede free kicks in shooting positions.
West Ham 1-0 Southampton
West Ham vs Southampton Betting Tip – West Ham Odds:
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