Saturday afternoon sees West Ham United welcome Southampton to the Boleyn Ground. West Ham are on an upward curve, having won their last 3 matches and moving into 11th place in the Barclays Premier League. They are by no means out of the relegation scrap yet though, as they stand only 4 points ahead of Sunderland in the final relegation position.
Southampton, on the other hand, come into this game on the back of two straight away wins and have Manchester United in their sights in seventh position in the Barclays Premier League table.
West Ham have kept four clean sheets in a row for the first time in Premier League history – they haven’t kept five in a row in the top-flight since December 1985.
Only one player has made more tackles than Morgan Schneiderlin this season (91), but the Frenchman has been given a yellow card in half of his 12 PL away apps this term (6).
Four of the six Premier League goals that Southampton have netted in February so far have been scored (2) or assisted (2) by Rickie Lambert.
West Ham have been saved by the woodwork on 17 occasions this season; more often than any other club in the PL.
West Ham United have no new injury concerns to report. They are without long term injury victims Joey O’Brien and Ricardo Vaz Te. Winston Reid is still pushing for a recall following his return to injury, however, the form of James Collins and James Tompkins is keeping him out of the side. Andy Carroll serves the final game of his three-match suspension.
Southampton with certainly be without Jos Hooiveld for the game. There will be a late test for Dejan Lovren to see if he can resume his role in the centre of the Saints’ defence. A decision will also be made on the fitness of Gaston Ramirez.
Kevin Nolan is bang in form. Fresh from his 2 goals last time out against Aston Villa, Nolan now has 4 goals in his last 2 appearances. Compare that, to only 2 league goals up until that point. With Andy Carroll out suspended the burden of goalscoring has fallen onto the broad shoulders of Nolan and he has repaid Sam Allardyce’s faith in him.
With a 43% chance conversation rate, West Ham fans will hope to see more than 1 chance fall his way on Saturday and they will hope to see the chicken dance once again.
Jay Rodriquez is having a wonderful season for the Saints. Having made his international debut earlier this season he is one of many Saints players who will have his eye on making the World Cup 2014 squad.
Playing in any of the front three positions this season, he has notched an impressive 10 goals and an even more impressive clear-cut chance conversion rate of 75%.
If Saints are going to score on Saturday, there is every chance that Jay will be the man to do so.
This should be an entertaining game. West Ham have the best clean sheet record in the league with 13 so far this season. Saints are very potent going forward. I can’t see either team doing enough for a victory however and I’m going for a score draw: 2-2.