After Wednesday night’s disappointing defeat to Manchester City, Slaven Bilic’s West Ham United will look to bounce back when they face Southampton at St. Mary’s on Saturday afternoon.
The Hammers will also be out for revenge on the south coast, with their opponents having got the better of them earlier this season at London Stadium.
West Ham currently sit a point above the Saints in the Premier League table, and Claude Puel’s team have lost their last two matches, including a 2-1 defeat to Swansea City earlier this week.
Ahead of the clash, we’ve had a look at three potentially key battles on the pitch at St. Mary’s which could decide whether it is to be an away day to remember for the travelling Irons.
With star defender Virgil Van Dijk injured and former captain Jose Fonte of course joining the Hammers during the January transfer window, it could be a chance for Maya Yoshida to step up and shine for Southampton.
He’ll do well to impress as much as Winston Reid has for Bilic’s team this season however, with the New Zealand international martialling the defence all season long.
Reid constantly puts his body on the line, throwing himself in front of shots and crosses and, as shown by his stats above, is not scared to stick his foot in during a challenge or to clear.
Yoshida’s prowess in the air, though, means he trumps Reid in terms of heading stats so far in the league this season.
Midfielders Oriol Romeu and Mark Noble have been mainstays in both sides this season and there’s no hiding their influence.
Skipper Noble has shown his leadership qualities in abundance this term and he’s rarely fazed, proven by his two goals to down Burnley and Hull in succession before Christmas.
On the attack and shown by the stats, Noble has an impact going forward as he makes more key passes and has more attempts on goal than his Spanish counterpart.
The former Chelsea man, however, clears the ball far more frequently than Noble. If the Hammers can work a way past him in Southampton’s midfield, they may stand a good chance.
Nathan Redmond and Manuel Lanzini – arguably the sides’ chief creative forces – could prove pivotal on Saturday.
Lanzini has scored and made more goals for his side this season, though Redmond can often be extremely direct and is not afraid to shoot from anywhere – note to Darren Randolph.
Redmond takes people on and completes more dribbles per match than Argentine Lanzini, but the Hammers’ No10 – as supporters know – is all about the short, intricate passing moves.
There’s no doubt that both playmakers have the ability to be match winners on Saturday in what could be an enthralling encounter.