Tomorrow-afternoon, we make the trip to St Mary’s to face a strong Southampton side in Game Week Two of the 2017/2018 season.
The 3,000 strong Claret & Blue Army that are making the trip to The South Coast will he hoping for a dramatic improvement on last week’s thumping 4-0 loss at Old Trafford. Whereas, the hosts will be looking to lay the demons of last week’s frustrating draw with Swansea City to rest and gain their first three-points under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino.
The tie will take place tomorrow at 3PM, and is not being broadcasted live in The UK as is customary with any kick-off at that time. However, you can catch Radio commentary of the game on BBC Radio London Sport and TalkSport on FM. You can also be sure to catch action and reaction from the match across all of our Social Media platforms.
The fixture is being held at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium, an arena that we have not fared well in since its birth in 2001. In our eight-visits to the Ground, we have only been victorious once, and that came in a 1-3 victory last season which included goals from Andy Carroll, Pedro Obiang and Mark Noble.
Interestingly, the Stadium lends its name to being the only in Premier League history to be exorcised by a Priest in 2001. The ceremony occurred after The Saints failed to win their first five fixtures in their new surroundings, and was ironic in terms of the club’s origins as a Church Football team. However, it worked as they were victorious in the following game against Charlton Athletic and the Stadium is a spirit-free fortress nowadays.
We make the trip to Southampton with a similar squad to the one that faced Manchester United last week. However, there are two major additions to the 18-men, with 2016/2017 Hammer of the Year Michail Antonio making his return from a Hamstring injury, and new-signing Sead Haksabanovic looking to seize his chance for a first-team bow. Nevertheless, we are still without the likes of Andy Carroll, star man Manuel Lanzini and Cheikhou Kouyate, who are each expected to be back for next weekend’s trip to Newcastle.
Whereas, the hosts have the luxury of a fully fit squad for the encounter, as left-back Ryan Bertrand returns from a knock that he received against The Swans last Saturday. Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy could also feature for The Saints, after he made his comeback from an injury sustained in pre-season for Southampton’s U23’s against Reading on Monday-night. However, there is still uncertainty surrounding centre-back Virgil Van Dijk, who recently handed in a transfer request at St Mary’s.
It seems like in recent seasons that Mauricio Pellegrino’s Southampton have rivalled us for nearly every position we have gone for. The rivalry started back in the 2011/2012 season where The Saints under Nigel Adkins pipped us to automatic promotion for The Championship. In our final season at The Boleyn Ground, we found ourselves battling for Champions League Football, but had to settle for Europa League. Unsurprisingly, The Red and White Boys were also vying for a taste of European Football and swept in to deprive us of 6th place.
Last season, the story was very much the same as Claude Puel’s men finished a single point in front of Bilic’s boys. However, the overall record between the two sides makes for pleasant viewing for any Hammer, with decades of West Ham United dominance in the fixture.
Out of the 169 games that have been played featuring Southampton and West Ham United, we have been victorious 74 times, there have been 46 draws and The Saints have won 49 times.
The South Coast side are just one of many current Premier League clubs to have embarked on “Rags To Riches” story in recent times. The Saints completed a dramatic leap through the Divisions from League One in the 2009/2010 season and financial difficulties, to The Premier League in the 2012/2013 campaign. Then manager Nigel Adkins also ended their long 34-year long wait for a trophy in 2010 by winning The Football League Trophy, with a certain Michail Antonio getting on the scoresheet that day.
In recent times, the club have qualified for The Europa League for the first time in their history and have produced such players as Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott. Overall, the club have won one F.A Cup and finished as Division One runners’ up in 1984.
Who is officiating?
Lee Mason will take charge of the tie with Neil Swarbrick as Fourth Official and Constantine Hatzidakis and Matthew Wilkes as the Assistant Referees.
So, with the scene set for our second clash of the 2017/2018 Premier League season, will we be able to ease the pressure on Slaven Bilic at The St Mary’s Stadium.