A Drop of Claret and Blue: West Ham vs Southampton preview

October 21, 2012 in Premier League

Pin It

Welcome to A Drop of Claret and Blue.

Before we look ahead to West Ham’s home fixture against Southampton, let’s first remember a time before England underperformed against Poland; before the international team made hard work of an otherwise routine victory against San Marino; before I received a text message from a Gunners fan informing me that West Ham were s***.

It was a match that I predicted would be a very one sided encounter, but one that turned out to be a little closer than I imagined. Though it is correctly argued that Arsenal were indeed the better side on the day, West Ham gave a far better account of themselves than anticipated, and the end result perhaps did not reflect this.

Diame had given us the lead and, against the run of play or not, I almost felt it was deserved on the basis that we had kept the away side out, and that not one person I had spoken to had credited the home side with a goal before proceedings. When the half-time whistle blew, I was actually disappointed to be drawing, as opposed to the ecstatic joy I presumed I would’ve felt with that half time score line.

We actually had chances to take the lead in the second half, but the fact that we did not take them, coupled with Arsenal’s enviable style of play particularly in the final third of the pitch, it is difficult not to say that they earned the three points. Though the equaliser was more than preventable, Walcott’s goal was well worked and a cool finish under pressure, and the third I had to applaud as a stroke of excellence.

I dislike praising other London sides when they’ve beaten West Ham, but I had nothing but positive things to say about Wenger’s side after the game, which made the predictable “West Ham are s***” text message even harder to swallow. Had we lost to the better side? Yes, we had. I’ll admit that all day long. But we had lost with a fight that I was perhaps too quick to dismiss before kick off; and it was this determined performance that has completely altered my prediction for the coming match. Have West Ham been s*** already this season? Yes, we have. But our last couple of performances have given me real confidence ahead of the coming game against a fellow promoted side.

Southampton were a team that West Ham failed to beat last season, and one that finished above us as we won promotion back to the Premier League via the play-offs. Whilst our ten men were unfortunate to draw 1-1 at Upton Park on Valentine’s Day this year, we were beaten 1-0 at St Mary’s earlier in the season. And despite Southampton sitting one place above the drop zone with four points from their opening seven games, I had convinced myself that a Saints victory was on the cards. Three of the fixtures they’ve lost have come against both Manchester sides and Arsenal. Whilst the Gunners were simply too good en route to a 6-1 victory, both Manchester City and Manchester United were less than convincing on their way to 3-2 wins respectively, both games I feel the Saints were unfortunate not to take anything from. Other losses have come against Wigan and Everton, but they’ve shown that they are capable at this level with a dominant victory over Aston Villa, and displayed fighting spirit to draw level late against Fulham when the game had looked lost.

I was initially sure that Southampton would get their second win of the season against us Hammers, but aside from the loss against Wigan in the Capital One Cup, our home form has been pretty impressive, and with those on international duty making it through unscathed, I am convinced we will prove too much for Southampton on this occasion, and consign them to a sixth defeat already this season.

Prediction: 2-1 W

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, particularly with the threat the likes of Ricky Lambert and Adam Lallana will pose. But I reckon Andy Carroll will get his first goal for the club, I will never rule out our midfield as the more plausible source of goals, and with Vaz Te out injured, I fancy Modibo Maiga to get a start and impress.

I have something of a rapport with a few Saints fans, and will gladly incorporate any messages we exchange with regards to this fixture in the next instalment of the blog. Feel free to drop some comments, let us know what your thoughts are thus far this season.

Come on you Irons!