Southampton v West Ham: Sinful not to take on Saints
It's hard to justify a quote of odds-on about a side in such a precarious position, so the Saints simply have to be taken on, says Jamie Pacheco.
Southampton v West Ham Saturday December 14, 17:30 Live on Sky Sports Main Event
Lack of quality in the squad is showing
Southampton are currently 18th in the table and that's probably where they deserve to be. At times they play a decent brand of football but ask yourself this question: if they were relegated this season and a summer fire sale ensued, which of their players would other Premier League clubs be queuing up to sign? Danny Ings, yes. James-Ward Prowse, maybe. Cedric Soares, probably. And maybe Jan Bednarek. But given that the list ends there, you can see why they're struggling.
The answer might of course be the January transfer window. But given that Southampton isn't the best team to attract the finest players at the best of times and that they're in a precarious position, Saints' fans shouldn't be expecting the arrival of many star names in a month or so.
At least everyone in the squad is fit and available to play.
West Ham shouldn't be struggling like this
West Ham may be just one point better off but somehow, relegation seems far less likely. Maybe that's because despite any other problems they have, they do have some decent players to call upon.
One of those is Sebastian Haller, who started well after a big-money move but has been a bit out-of-sorts of late which has resulted in having to settle for a spot on the bench in the last four games.
In his place they've played Michail Antonio as a centre forward. We all know about his pace, strength and heading ability but at a time when it's goals they need, he's not the most obvious source.
Manuel Lanzini misses out till the New Year but it's keeper Lucasz Fabianski they really need back.
Reasons to oppose Saints
Southampton are odds-on at 1.95. We can make a good case for taking that on. The first is that only the strongest sides deserve to be odds-on in a league as tough as this. The second is that they're one point worse of than their opponents. For reason three, turn to the recent record between these two: the Hammers have won four of their last five against this lot. In fact, the east Londoners have beaten Southampton more times than any other team (16), as Opta remind us.
That price on the Saints can only be because they won their last two at home. But look at who they beat: Norwich and Watford, the only two sides below them in the table.
All in all, the prices sound about right but with all of the Hammers' last four on the road seeing at least one clean sheet, the 2.38 on 'no' would be the preference.
Can Ings do it again?
I waxed lyrical about Danny Ings in my Something for the weekend column and with good reason (even if I say so myself). He's got nine for the season and has scored one in each of his last five. Pretty impressive for a player at a side that has scored just 18 in the league this season.
So Ings is obviously the ideal place to start if you're in search of an anytime goalscorer but just like with the match odds market, his odds-on quote looks a tad on the short side at 10/11, this despite his outstanding current form.
For the visitors, if Antonio keeps on playing in a central role, 13/5 looks a decent price though he's scored just the once this campaign. For a slightly more 'left-field' punt, how about left-back Aaron Creswell? With three goals to his name, he's the joint-second top scorer and is rated an 8/1 chance to make it four.