West Ham visit St Marys tomorrow knowing that another 3 points will virtually guarantee Premiership survival. It will be no easy task though against a rejuvenated Southampton side who have surprised many under new manager Mauricio Pochettino. It was a shock to many when Nigel Adkins got the boot and Pochettino was installed, but Southampton have confounded their critics and entered a run of form that has seen them beat Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea and pull clear of the drop zone.
For Southampton, former West Ham target Ricky Lambert should start, and along with Lallana, Rodriguez and Ramirez their attacking options are fearsome.
West Ham should make one change from the team that started against Liverpool, with Andy Carrol replacing Carlton Cole who had a rare start last week. Although Allardyce stated that he was pleased with Cole’s performance against Liverpool, the more potent Carroll should hold sway now he is available for selection again. Tomkins seems to have recovered from the knock he picked up last week and retains his place as Winston Reid is still out with a thigh injury.
It will be a tough game for the Hammers although they triumphed 4-1 in the home tie last October. Southampton are a different proposition now though and I fancy Lambert to get on the score sheet once again. Carroll has also hit a vein of form though, so I’ll go for a 1-1 draw although my head says that Southampton will nick it.
In other news, Hammers goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen has had his contract extended by another year after triggering a clause based on appearances. Despite his age and losing his place in the side with his previous club Bolton, he has had a good year so far for West Ham, and his match winning performances of late have proved that although he might not be the force he once was, he can still cut the mustard in the Premier League.