Southampton host Premier League rivals West Ham United in the FA Cup with a spot in the quarter-finals at stake.

Southampton will look to switch their attention towards their FA Cup campaign after being in impressive form lately. The Saints have climbed up to 9th in the Premier League table, with a European spot for next season still very much within reach.

The form of the teams above them could scupper their dream of a Conference League place, although their progress has been massive since the turn of the year. They have taken ten points from an available 12 as they continue on an unbeaten streak stretching to six games now.

The stunning victory over Brighton will serve to boost their confidence ahead of a crunch FA Cup clash against West Ham United. Southampton have their eyes on a quarter-final berth, after reaching the fifth round beating the likes of Swansea City and Coventry City in the competition they haven’t won since 1976.

West Ham come into the game with their place in the league table intact after narrowly beating Wolves at the weekend. Birthday boy Tomas Soucek scored the game’s only goal, which certainly sets up the FA Cup fifth-round clash nicely for the Hammers.

For David Moyes, it has not been a comfortable campaign in the competition so far. In the previous round, non-League side Kidderminster threatened to derail West Ham, with Jarrod Bowen’s winner proving crucial in their extra-time win over the minnows.

In their previous encounter, Southampton and West Ham played out an entertaining game on Boxing Day, with the Saints winning the contest 3-2. There could be a repeat of that thrilling contest when the teams take the field at St Marys for their crucial FA Cup fifth-round clash with a place in the quarter-finals at stake.

Team News & Tactics

Southampton

Nathan Tella, Alex McCarthy and Lyanco are all confirmed absentees for the Saints. Ralph Hasenhuttl will likely continue with the 4-4-2 shape, which has brought much success for his team. Being a crucial game, the manager is expected to field a strong lineup.

He could include some of his fringe stars, but balance the team out with many of his regulars. Willy Caballero is expected to take his place between the sticks, with the central defensive partnership of Mohamed Salisu and Jack Stephens shielding the Argentine.

Yan Valery and Thierry Small could play as full-backs, while Nathan Redmond and Theo Walcott are likely to take up wide roles in midfield. James Ward-Prowse and Ibrahima Diallo are likely to line up in the central areas, while Hasenhuttl could go with a front two of Armando Broja and Shane Long.

Such a lineup would be a good mix of regulars and fringe players to balance the team’s overall quality. Considering recent form and the four games to be played in the next 12 days, Hasenhuttl will be wary of overusing his key players too much to avoid potential injury risks.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Caballero; Valery, Stephens, Salisu, Small; Walcott, Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Redmond; Long, Broja

West Ham United

Vladimir Coufal, Ryan Fredericks and Angelo Ogbonna remain the only confirmed absentees for the Hammers due to injuries. Like his Saints counterpart, David Moyes will look to field a team comprising regulars and fringe players.

Kurt Zouma and Issa Diop should start at the heart of the backline, with Ben Johnson likely to get the nod on the right side in the absence of Coufal and Fredericks. Arthur Masuaku is still a big doubt after failing a late fitness test before the Wolves game. Aaron Cresswell should continue at left-back for the Hammers.

Moyes could hand Alex Kral a rare start in central midfield alongside veteran Mark Noble. Meanwhile, Manuel Lanzini recovered from his fitness problem to play at the weekend, but the Argentine could be rested for this clash alongside Michail Antonio.

Bowen could start in Antonio’s place up front, with Nikola Vlasic likely to take the Englishman’s place on the right side of the attack. Said Benrahma could be in line for a start in the No. 10 role, with Pablo Fornals the likely choice to start on the left side of the attacking third.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Areola; Johnson, Diop, Zouma, Cresswell; Kral, Noble; Vlasic, Benrahma, Fornals, Bowen

Key Stats

  • West Ham have kept a clean sheet in their last three away games in all competitions.
  • West Ham have not lost in normal time in their last five games in the FA Cup.
  • West Ham are unbeaten in their last four trips to Southampton, winning two.
  • Southampton are on a six-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
  • Southampton have not won the FA Cup since they lifted the trophy in 1976.

Player To Watch

Jarrod Bowen

Embed from Getty Images

The English attacker has been in the headlines regularly in the last few weeks for some excellent performances for the Hammers. Five goals and an assist in seven league games since December have made Bowen the club’s most important player. In their last FA Cup clash, the ex-Hull City forward singlehandedly earned entry into the next round with a stunning display, proving his worth to the east London club.

But he has started and played the entire 90 mins in his last 14 games in the top tier, leading to a feeling that he is being overused by Moyes, which could lead to a burnout or injury. However, given his value to the team, Bowen is likely to start again on Wednesday and will be key for the Hammers’ chances to progress into the quarter-finals.

Prediction

Southampton 1-1 West Ham United

This is a contest between two form teams in the division, although the Saints have been better throughout the last six games. We expect this contest to end 1-1 in regulation time, and the final result could be decided either in extra time or through penalties. Both teams stand a chance to win it in extra time, although the Hammers may have the advantage if the tie goes to a penalty shootout.

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