West Ham can make history when they face Southampton on Wednesday evening by claiming their first ever win at St. Mary’s.
The Premier League’s two surprise packages of the campaign go head-to-head in a midweek fixture that is all set up to be a thriller with both sides in the hunt for European places.
Sam Allardyce’s men have descended down the table since Christmas and now sit in eighth, while the Saints are still punching above their weight in third – eight points separate the two teams.
West Ham duo James Collins and Winston Reid are set to miss out but the impressive Cheikhou Kouyate will fill the void again.
Andy Carroll could return in time to make the squad, although Allardyce may be better served sticking with the deadly pairing of Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia up top.
Kevin Nolan has a bruised instep and James Tomkins has a broken nose from the exploits against Manchester United on Sunday, however both are expected to feature.
Southampton will be without the suspended Ryan Bertrand but have no fresh injury concerns. They were boosted during their recent 1-0 win away at QPR by the return of Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin, who are both expected be in from the start.
MUST BE CLINICAL
West Ham have to ensure they are more clinical than they were against Manchester United last time out where they were punished for missed chances when Daley Blind scored a last-minute leveller.
Southampton have conceded the fewest goals (17) of any of the 92 league clubs in English football and their stopper Fraser Forster has, unsurprisingly, kept the most clean sheets (11) in the Premier League.
Chances will be few and far between at a ground where the Hammers have never had much luck but if they perform in the same vein (and system) as they did against United they could get a record-breaking result.
Both side’s full-backs are extremely attacking and their impact on the match could determine the outcome.
Southampton are without the influential Bertrand and 19-year-old Matt Targett could be found wanting against Carl Jenkinson down that side.
While Nathaniel Clyne and Aaron Cresswell will provide a very intriguing battle on the opposite flank, both have tremendous ability and love to bomb forward and whip crosses into the box which will force their opponent back.
In what is expected to be a closely contested encounter, the width and ambition displayed by the full-backs may just be the decisive factor.
WEST HAM: PREDICTED XI
Adrian, Jenkinson, Tomkins, Kouyate, Cresswell; Noble, Song, Nolan, Downing; Sakho, Valencia.
Southampton 1-2 West Ham
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