Seventh-placed Southampton host West Ham United in Saturday evening’s crunch Premier League clash at St. Mary’s knowing that three points will close the gap on their sixth-placed opponents.
The Saints have been resurgent since the return of goalkeeper Fraser Forster – following seven defeats in nine, the South Coast outfit have won three of their last four and kept clean sheets in all of them.
Ronald Koeman’s men also recorded a creditable 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium against title-chasing Arsenal on Tuesday, a game where Forster picked up the man-of-the-match award after a string of impressive saves.
The Irons are also in an excellent vain of form, losing just one of their last 10 outings in the league and sitting just a point off fifth-placed Manchester United in the race for European football.
Slaven Bilic’s men won 2-0 against 10-man Aston Villa in their last outing, with second-half strikes from Michail Antonio and Cheikhou Kouyate sealing a comfortable three points.
The Hammers were 2-1 victors against this weekend’s opponents when the two faced each other near the end of December – a result which had seen Koeman’s side rooted in the bottom-half of the table.
January signing Charlie Austin is more likely to feature than miss out after picking up a knock, while midfielder Steven Davis is 50-50.
Manuel Lanzini and Diafra Sakho are still out for the visitors, as is Carl Jenkinson – Sam Byram is touch-and-go, while loan addition Emmanuel Emenike is struggling for match fitness so might need to wait.
Central defender Angelo Ogbonna is 75% likely to feature, as is striker Andy Carroll.
League Positions: Southampton – 7th (34 pts); West Ham United – 6th (39 pts)
Previous Meeting: West Ham United 2-1 Southampton, December 28, 2015,
League Form: Southampton – LLWWWD; West Ham United – WWWLDW
Key Players: Southampton – Charlie Austin; West Ham United – Dimitri Payet
Shoot Says: Southampton 1-1 West Ham United