Thursday, March 23, 2023

3 Key Battles That Could Decide The Game When Southampton Take On West Ham

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Snehanjan Banerjee
Snehanjan used to a former columnist at The 4th Official. Fan of KK, Cricket and Liverpool (in no particular order).

After a relatively slow start to life in the Premier League, things look much improved for Claude Puel now with Southampton grabbing three back to back wins in all competitions. They have a golden opportunity to make it four wins in a row when they travel to the Olympic Stadium on Sunday to face struggling West Ham.

It’s surprising to see the Hammers struggle so badly this season after the campaign they experienced last time out. West Ham somehow managed to see off minnows Accrington Stanley in the midweek in the third round of the League Cup to put an end to their four-game losing streak. It was far from a convincing display from the Hammers, though.

Here are three key battles those could decide the outcome of the game.

Charlie Austin Vs Angelo Ogbonna

Charlie Austin is in impressive form right now having scored four goals in the last three games and will be looking to get on the scoresheet again as he starts up front as one of the two forwards. The Englishman is a big threat with his link up play and strong finishing and could terrorise the underperforming West Ham defence with the form he is in right now.

In Winston Reid’s absence, Angelo Ogbonna should start at the heart of the defence in a bid to stop Austin from scoring. This will be an interesting battle to watch out for.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Charlie Austin of Southampton celebrates scoing his second during the UEFA Europa League Group K match between Southampton FC and AC Sparta Praha at St Mary's Stadium on September 15, 2016 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Oriol Romeu vs Mark Noble

We expect Oriol Romeu to ply his trade at the base of the midfield diamond. The Spaniard has done a great job so far and will be keen to keep up his good form. His defensive ability is top-notch and provides a solid protection for the back four as well as laying off passes to his attacking colleagues.

If West Ham need to get a good result, they must ensure that Romeu is unable to play his best game at the base of the midfield diamond. West Ham skipper Mark Noble is likely to start in a two-man midfield and must ensure that he can control the midfield which he has failed to do lately.

Dimitri Payet Vs Cedric Soares

West Ham are too much reliant on Dimitri Payet and the Frenchman hardly fails to deliver. With three assists and one goal in his last three games, Payet will be the player Slaven Bilic will look forward to bring his side back to winning ways. The Frenchman offers a wealth of creativity and flair from the left flank and Southampton right-back Cedric Soares will be assigned the big task to stop him.

Soares has been impressive in his last two outings and has recorded 2.8 tackles per game in the League. With Payet, you can be sure that there will be a lot of one v one tussles and Soares can ill-afford to lose them, let alone be out of position when the Frenchman is marauding forward.

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