Alan Dudman previews West Ham's final game of the season and is firmly behind the Hammers and Jesse Lingard against Southampton...
"The Hammers are also unbeaten in their last six Premier League meetings with Southampton, winning five in a row before their 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture, so the 1.784/5 looks fair enough."
West Ham United v Southampton
Sunday 23rd May, kick-off 16:00
Moyes can take great pride in finish
West Ham manager David Moyes can reflect on a tremendous season as the Hammers go into Sunday's fixture needing just a point to guarantee a top-six finish for only the second time in their history. The other time was under Harry Redknapp in 1999 and that was a great side. I was rather lucky back then as I used to cover West Ham for clubcall. It was ridiculous that I actually got paid to go and watch Paolo Di Canio et al. I never ever asked for autographs, but I made an exception for the maverick Italian in his silver Porsche and Burberry scarf. Freebies for the plugs on those two willingly accepted
Nowadays watching West Ham, especially since the arrival of Jesse Lingard, some of their football has been excellent. Spells against Burnley recently highlighted a lot of pass and move and confidence.
I always labelled Moyes as a negative manager. I was wrong. Indeed, this will be the Scot's best position in the Premier League too and 62 points is dreamland stuff. It's a pity they just ran out of a bit of steam at the end with those costly home defeats to Chelsea and Everton. But they'd been pretty strong at home all season before those two matches, with nine wins at the London Stadium in all - which ranks alongside Manchester United.
In terms of team news, the hosts will wait on goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski's fitness while Mark Noble and Manuel Lanzini are out.
Southampton's problems have been away from home this season, with the main culprit being keeping clean sheets. They have conceded 40 on the road - a lot. They are also one short of a club record of most goals conceded in a season. Indeed their last clean sheet came in the FA Cup in March.
Ralph Hasenhuttl's main task now will be to fight to keep Danny Ings at the club. His 14 goals in 34 appearances is another steady return and a high profile move could be a possibility.
Heading into Sunday, Southampton have lost nine of their 10 Premier League away games so far in 2021, with the only exception being a 2-0 victory at bottom side Sheffield United. Saints have conceded 30 goals in these nine defeats, scoring just seven in return. That makes for grim reading with a trip to the capital.
Oriel Romeo could return from an ankle injury that has kept him sidelined for three months. Che Adams and Will Smallbone are ruled out.
Captain James Ward-Prowse hasn't missed a single minute of Premier League football in either of the last two seasons - if he plays 90 minutes in this game, he will be the first midfielder to play every minute in consecutive seasons, and only the second midfielder to do so in more than one season, along with Gary McAllister (1993-94 with Leeds United, 1996-97 with Coventry City).
With Southampton's dismal away record in 2021, it's hardly tempting even with the 4.47/2 dangling in front of me. They have lost four in the spin and lost 14 of their last 20 games. Add to that the goals conceded, Houston we have a problem.
Had West Ham not lost to Everton and Chelsea, I'm sure they would be shorter than 1.784/5, but these are strange times. Who would have thought the Hammers would be that price at home?
The Hammers are also unbeaten in their last six Premier League meetings with Southampton, winning five in a row before their 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture, so the 1.784/5 looks fair enough.
In terms of laying, the draw could be worth taking on if those sort of prices are your thing. Since drawing 3-3 in May 1994 in their first such meeting, none of Southampton's last 17 away Premier League games against West Ham have ended level, with Saints winning just four of those (L13).
I kicked myself last week for trying to be too fancy with the Manchester United bet. I put up the Win To Nil, so it was most unwanted the early goal. United were 1.855/6 and won easily, so sometimes we can just accept that shortish price is still an attractive bet.
Since his first Premier League appearance for West Ham on February 3rd, only Kelechi Iheanacho (14) has been involved in more Premier League goals than Jesse Lingard (13; 9 goals, 4 assists). The record tally for goals/assists in a Premier League season for a player who didn't appear until as late as February is 15 by Bruno Fernandes last season for Manchester United (8 goals, 7 assists).
Lingard has surely pushed himself into the Euros squad following his golden spell, and the midfielder's price has been boosted on the Sportsbook to score two or more goals from 9/2 to 11/2. And with the way Southampton defend, that looks a possible bet.
We focus on the hosts again, as forward Michail Antonio has registered 10+ goals in his last two Premier League seasons, one of only five players to manage that feat in consecutive seasons for the Hammers. His strike against West Brom took him to 46 Premier League goals for the club, one behind Paolo Di Canio's record of 47 which has stood since 2003. A more conservative price at around 5/4 is for Antonio to score at anytime and West Ham to win.
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Alan Dudman's 2020/21 Premier League P&L