Southampton-West Ham United Preview
Southampton's stunning Boxing Day rout of Arsenal has provided a huge lift ahead of Monday's clash with West Ham United at Upton Park.
Ronaldo Koeman's Southampton (6-6-6) had picked up just one point in five games prior to their meeting with high-flying Arsenal on Saturday, but the Saints produced a performance that will give the fans great hope for the second half of the season, scoring four without reply against the title-chasing Gunners.
However, the nature of the Christmas schedule in the Premier League means that there's no time for any side to catch their breath, with just a single rest day in between two full rounds of matches, and Koeman has been quick to remind his team they need to stay focussed.
"We don't have time to celebrate," Koeman said in his post-match press conference. "We were very happy about the team performance, but on Monday we start again.
"Against West Ham we have to be prepared for a tough match, but of course the result against Arsenal gives the players a good confidence. It's easier to prepare for the game with a good result, because that gives everybody a good feeling and a good preparation. We know every game is tough, but if we bring the same in all the details in football then I'm very confident we will get a good result."
Monday's hosts West Ham (6-8-4) were held to a 1-1 draw by last-place Aston Villa on Boxing Day, meaning that it's now five straight draws for the Hammers and eight games without a win. Goals have also been a problem for Slaven Bilic's side, and they've scored no more than a single goal in any game of that run.
Midfielder Alex Song was particularly frustrated with dropping two more points, but the former Arsenal and Barcelona man knows the east Londoners have no time to feel sorry for themselves.
"Of course we expected a tough match like that - it's Boxing Day, that's what happens! They showed today that frankly they don't deserve to be in this position," Song said, singing the praises of Villa. "They pushed, they tried to get the three points, but we held them off and, in the end, I think it's a shame that we've not won the match.
"Now we've got to rest up and be ready for Monday because it's an important home match for us. We have to win, we have to get back to winning ways and, particularly after Saturday's result, we have to give everything to win the game against Southampton."
West Ham have a growing injury list, with James Tomkins, Aaron Cresswell and Andy Carroll all doubts, and Winston Reid, Victor Moses, Diafra Sakho, Manuel Lanzini and Dimitri Payet sidelined.
Southampton have concerns over the fitness of Graziano Pelle, while Jay Rodriguez and goalkeeper Fraser Forster are out.
The Hammers will be confident of picking up at least a point, having not lost in six at home. Southampton have won just two of their last 15 away games.
Southampton took four points between the teams last season, including a 3-1 romp in the corresponding fixture as Morgan Schneiderlin had a brace after Mark Noble's opening tally, and Pelle added a goal seven minutes from time to secure the points.