Mix ‘n’ Match: Lambert in and Carroll out of combo XI
Although both arguably need one more win to be sure of survival this Premier League season, it would be a big shock if Southampton or West Ham were relegated now in the final quarter of the campaign.
The pair are currently locked on 37 points ahead of facing each other at St Mary’s and the winner can do more than ensure another Premier League season, as they would also take a massive stride towards finishing the campaign as the top promoted club.
Southampton are marginal favourites in this market at 4/5, with West Ham at 9/10, despite having a game in hand.
However, the prices are about right in our book, given that if the two squads were merged together, it would be Southampton that would have more of the starters.
Our team is below and the biggest talking point is likely to be in attack, where Rickie Lambert gets the nod over Andy Carroll.
Lambert only recently signed a three-year extension to the club in which he has scored over 100 goals and has led the line remarkably well all season.
Even when Southampton were struggling, it was a result of their wobbly defending rather than a lack of goals and attacking threat.
Artur Boruc’s arrival in goal has helped improve this and he perhaps surprisingly gets in ahead of Jussi Jaaskelainen, whose unconventional style has impressed Hammers fans more this season than perhaps they were expecting when he was signed.
West Ham dominate in defence as this is the clear area where the Saints need improvement. When Vegard Forren acclimatises, this will help, but for now their only defender in our team is Luke Shaw, who may well be an outsider contender to be in England’s 2014 World Cup squad, should they of course qualify.
Picking a midfield was tougher. Mohamed Diame should be West Ham’s player of the season and his tireless workrate gets him in, while Morgan Schneiderlin takes the defensive role given his exceptional reading of the game that has seen him make more interceptions than any other Premier League player this campaign.
It was between Gaston Ramirez and Adam Lallana for the final spot, with Saints’ record signing just sneaking in, with Jay Rodriguez and Matt Jarvis given the task of supplying ammunition to Lambert and supporting him with goals.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.