Southampton v West Ham
Saturday 19 August, 15:00

Saints look set for another good run

Despite losing their managers and their best players on an annual basis, Southampton continue to out-perform expectations, enjoying four top eight finishesin a row in the Premier League.
That consistency paid off this week as Katharina Liebherr's majority stake in the club was bought out by Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng. The new "partnership" - as the club described it in a statement - is of course not the only off-field activity that has been dominating the headlines for Southampton recently.
One of the summer's longest transfer sagas appeared to be put to bed on Wednesday as Saints chairman Ralph Krueger insisted Liverpool target Virgil van Dijk is "not for sale".
Whether or not that is a huge boost to the club is arguably up for debate. The Dutchman has been out injured since January and certainly did not look missed last week as the Saints kept a clean sheet against Swansea.
In fact, they really should have won that game comfortably - with Dusan Tadic and Maya Yoshida in particular being guilty of missing clear cut chances. Scoring goals is one area new manager Mauricio Pellegrino will really need to work on.

West Ham's season starts here

"You only improve through suffering," said Slaven Bilic in a recent interview. While West Ham's Croatian boss was talking about his team's performance last season, he will surely be hoping the same applies to their chastening experience at Old Trafford last weekend.
Spearheaded by new signings Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic, Manchester United tore West Ham apart.
The 4-0 result only serves to increase the pressure on Bilic, but in reality we probably should not read too much into it. Plenty of teams will head to the north-west this season and suffer a similar fate.
With another week of training for new signings Marko Arnautovic, Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Javier Hernandez and Sead Haksabanovic to settle in, the Hammers will be hoping for a better display against more evenly matched opposition on Saturday.

Goal shy Saints look too short

Saints fans must be feeling slightly hard done by. Since the start of last season, Opta report that St Mary's has seen fewer goals than any other Premier League stadium with just 38 goals being scored in 20 games at the ground - and seen the most goalless draws (5).
Following last week's humbling for West Ham, there is a sense that the market is slightly over-pricing the visitors at odds of 5.30. They were prone to collapses against top six opposition last season but still managed to follow them up with decent results - the 4-0 loss at home to Liverpool followed by a 2-1 win away to Burnley in May being a prime example.
Much of the Hammers' poor form last season was at home, too, as they struggled to settle into the new surrounds of the London Stadium. But on the road they had the ninth best record in the league, while the Saints' home record was down in 17th. In fact, West Ham won this fixture 3-1 last year.
All of which makes it surprising that Southampton are so short at 1.78 for the win, with the draw at 3.95. One option that looks attractive is to back West Ham on the Asian Handicap +0.5 & +1.0 at odds of [2.01] or bigger.

A goalfest looks unlikely

As mentioned above, Southampton do not appear to be missing the presence of Van Dijk too much at the back - with Yoshida and Jack Stephens performing so well - but their lack of potency at the other end of the pitch is a real cause for concern.
In case you haven't had enough statistics about Southampton's goal scoring woes... their top scorer last season was Nathan Redmond with just eight goals in all competitions. Italian forward Manolo Gabbiadini scored six goals in his first four appearances but has now not scored in his last nine.
Overall, Southampton scored just 41 goals from all 38 of their Premier League games last season and still finished eighth - which proves just how valuable a good defence can be in the Premier League.
But their lack of accuracy up top is neatly summarised by the facts that just 7% of their shots against Swansea last weekend hit the target and they have now failed to score in their last six games at home.
Yet despite all of this, the market still favours Over 2.5 Goals - perhaps thanks to West Ham's games last season averaging 2.9 goals - at odds of 1.94.
But their recent form tells a different tale. The Hammers have only scored three goals in their last six Premier League games - and only seven in six pre-season friendlies.
With both sides in such poor scoring form, it would appear more advisable to back Under 2.5 Goals at 2.02.

Ref Watch

Lee Mason will take charge of proceedings at St Mary's on Saturday. The Lancastrian handed out 96 yellow cards and three reds in his 25 matches last season. He oversaw one Southampton loss and one draw as well as West Ham's 1-0 victory over Hull in December.

Recommended Bets

Back West +0.5 & +1.0 on the Asian Handicap @ [2.01]
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.02

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