Southampton and West Ham have enjoyed similar seasons so far though form has dipped of late
Southampton 1-1 West Ham
In what has been one of the strangest and most unpredictable seasons so far, Southampton and West Ham have been two of the teams able to capitalise and have enjoyed the results their good performances have merited.
Southampton have briefly tasted life at the top of the table, while West Ham have been on the verge of the Champions League places for much of the season so far.
Their form has dipped a little of late, however – Southampton are winless from their last two matches, while West Ham have endured three without victory, meaning they now occupy 9th and 10th respectively.
Nevertheless, they are two teams full of very good players and will be intent on picking up some good form once again as they approach the New Year.
Both have tried to play attractive football wherever possible and they have been responsible for some of the better matches this season.
It should be an interesting game.
Form Guide (all comps): WWDLD
Reasons to be cheerful:
Just two defeats from last 13 matches
Only a win away from 3rd
Reasons to be fearful:
Struggling to score goals without injured Ings
Tough fixture list heading into January
Southampton remain a very tricky team to earn victory against, despite a run of form which has seen just two wins come from their last seven matches in the league.
Only the two Manchester clubs have beaten Southampton of late and it is testament to the great work manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has done at the club this season.
Despite possessing several good strikers at the club, none are as clinical as Danny Ings, who has missed quite a bit of football over the past couple of months with successive injury problems. It puts greater pressure on youngster Che Adams and second-choice Shane Long.
Nevertheless, the can still challenge for the European places this season – a win could take them as high as 3rd, pending results from other teams above them.
Star Man – James Ward-Prowse
Hit the crossbar in their 0-0 draw at Fulham – the creative midfielder is always dangerous from set-pieces.
Form Guide (all comps): LWDLD
Reasons to be cheerful
Have six points more than this stage last season
Showed great spirit to bite back against Brighton
Reasons to be fearful
Absent Michail Antonio is starting to cost them
Starting to look a little inconsistent in matches
West Ham have enjoyed an excellent record against Southampton in recent years, winning five on the bounce and seven of the last 10 in the league.
Records don’t always count for much, but West Ham will hope to bring some of that positive history into this fixture. Despite their opponents topping the table at one stage, West Ham are only one place behind them in the league as it currently stands.
They’ve only won one of their previous five matches, however, and it seems as though their star striker Michail Antonio has been missed. Haller has chipped in with goals, but as a team The Hammers have scored fewer than their opponents this weekend.
They’ll need more goals to beat this Saints side.
Star Man – Tomas Soucek
Now has four goals this season from midfield and earned a big point for his side against Brighton.
Both sides will fancy their chances in an even contest
A game of excitement, but few goals
Could finish all square
They are similar teams in both style and results earned this season, and we could see Southampton and West Ham play out a draw here.
In terms of points, goals scored and conceded as well as positions in the table, there is little to separate these two sides. Both are missing their star strikers so could find it difficult to finish chances.
Southampton 1-1 West Ham