Southampton v West Ham: Goals out with the tide on coast

With both sides' form having dipped of late Andy Schooler isn't expecting a feast of goals when Southampton host West Ham in the Premier League on Tuesday.

Southampton v West Ham
Tuesday 29 December, 18:00
Live on Amazon Prime Video

Southampton and West Ham both head into this game without a win in their last three games and for both teams that represents their worst such run of the season.

Saints have drawn at Arsenal and Fulham and lost at home to Manchester City during their run, one which has seen them score only once.

Ings set to miss out again

Leading scorer Danny Ings did play against Arsenal but limped off early against City with a hamstring problem and looks set to miss out again here, as does Nathan Redmond.

Southampton, 2.24 to break that mini win drought, have scored at least twice in six of their seven home matches but such absences will reduce their goal threat. They have won just one of four without Ings this season - one of five if you include the game in which he came off in the first half.

At least the combative Oriol Romeu will return from suspension to add bite to the midfield.

At the back, Jannik Vestergaard is another injury loss, although his deputy, Jack Stephens, performed admirably to earn his side their clean sheet at Fulham on Saturday.

That goalless draw, in which Saints managed an expected goals (xG) figure of just 0.17, means Ralph Hasenhuttl's men have only conceded twice in that run of three games without a victory.

Safety first for Moyes

West Ham's winless streak has taken in draws at home to Palace and Brighton, plus a 3-0 away defeat to Chelsea. They are 3.5 for victory here.

An injury to Arthur Masuaku had forced David Moyes into a change of formation but he opted to return to a wing-back system against Brighton on Sunday. It didn't work as they were outplayed in the first half.

Changes were made at the break to make them more of an attacking threat and both Andriy Yarmolenko and Manuel Lanzini made strong cases to start this match.

It might not be so simple though.

Moyes' natural tendency is defence first and with form having dipped - it's now just one win in five - I'd expect the former defender to focus on building a solid base from which to play.

After the 2-2 draw with the Seagulls, Moyes admitted conceding first had "been a problem recently" - it has happened in their last four - which is another pointer towards a safety-first approach. Notably, Southampton have scored first in six of their seven home matches.

The Hammers' away wins this season have all come with the minority of possession - two of them with less than 40% of the ball - so he'll be happy to see his side soak up pressure and try to counter their hosts, particularly given they are set to be without Ings again.

Soucek a danger

Ideally Moyes would have Michail Antonio in his side to carry out such tactics but the striker still hasn't played this month due to injury. Given this game comes just two days after the Brighton draw, that seems unlikely to change.

MichailAntonio1280.JPG

If Antonio (pictured) is indeed missing, West Ham will likely target getting plenty of balls into the box. Such deliveries produced their goals against Brighton with Tomas Soucek heading home a late equaliser.

The Czech is a big threat from crosses, in particular set plays. Having scored in four of his last eight games, Soucek will interest some in the 'to score' market at 4.6.

Goals in short supply

All of that said, Southampton dealt well with Fulham's crosses on Saturday - no fewer than 24 rained into the box - and my preference is to mine the 2.5 goal line where the unders make appeal at 1.99.

Neither side is as potent without their biggest strike threat and both managers will be keen for their current poor run not to worsen. I can't see this being end-to-end stuff.

Only four teams have conceded fewer goals than Southampton, while against teams currently below them in the table, seven of their nine games have featured under 2.5 goals.

West Ham are only three points worse off than Saints but, as already outlined, they are likely to sit behind the ball and Southampton have rarely gone to town on teams who defend deep.

This same fixture last season produced just one goal - scored by the Hammers' Sebastien Haller.

If pushed on the outcome, I'd probably side with a low-scoring home win, with the extra day's rest they've had potentially crucial. Southampton to win and under 2.5 goals can be backed at 5.1.

But the under goals bet looks more worthy of support and I'm happy to stick with that.

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