Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl believes West Ham’s ability to put away their chances is what makes them one of the Premier League’s top sides.
After finishing in their highest league position in 22 years last season, West Ham have kicked off the 2021-22 campaign with two wins and a draw.
The Hammers have scored 10 goals across those games – only Manchester City have as many – with Michail Antonio responsible for four of those.
Southampton have just two points from a possible nine by comparison and Hasenhuttl is aware of how difficult Saturday’s game with West Ham will be.
“We know the strength that they have,” he said. “They have very good individual qualities in the team, but also a very clear and efficient way of playing football.
“This is the reason why they’ve been so successful. They have quick counter-attacks, quick balls into the striker and a very dynamic strong guy in Antonio.
“Their quality in the final third, for scoring in the right moments they don’t need a lot of chances to score. This is part of a top team.”
Pablo Fornals’ impressive form saw him rewarded with his first Spain caps in two years this international window, and he made his mark with a goal in the 2-0 win over Kosovo.
The attacking midfielder has formed a strong bond with Antonio in West Ham’s attack, a partnership that should be reunited at St Mary’s on Saturday.
“The understanding is good with everyone but with Micky especially,” Fornals said. “He knows what I’m going to do, where I’m going to run, and I know what he’s going to do.
“He’s a player who can really make a difference at any moment with his power and goals.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Southampton – Mohamed Elyounoussi
Elyounoussi endured a poor first campaign at Southampton and was loaned out to Celtic for a couple of seasons, where he was able to regain some form and confidence.
The Norwegian now looks a different player for the Saints, having been involved in six goals in his last two games in all competitions. That compares to no goals or assists in his previous 19 outings.
West Ham – Pablo Fornals
Fornals is another who should be full of confidence after impressing for Spain over the international break, the 25-year-old scoring one and assisting another across a combined 90 minutes of action.
He has also netted four times in his last four Premier League games for West Ham stretching back into last season, matching his return from across his previous 50 matches in the competition.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Southampton have lost two of their last three home league games against West Ham (D1), as many as they had in their previous 16 against the Hammers at St Mary’s/The Dell (W8 D6 L2).
– West Ham have won six of their last seven Premier League meetings with Southampton (D1), scoring 15 goals and conceding just twice in this run (five clean sheets in total).
– The Hammers have won more Premier League games against Southampton (19) than they have against any other opponent in the competition. Meanwhile, West Ham have only scored more Premier League goals against Newcastle (60) and Tottenham (60) than they have against Saints (58).
– Southampton have kept just one clean sheet in their last 24 Premier League games, conceding in each of their last 14 since a 2-0 win against Sheffield United in March. It is their longest run without a clean sheet in the competition since September 2016 (16 games).
– Since David Moyes returned to West Ham in January 2020, the Hammers are one of just four Premier League clubs to have scored 100 goals in the competition, along with Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool.