Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s FA Cup clash between Southampton and West Ham United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The Saints head into the encounter on the back of a 2-0 Premier League win over Norwich City, while David Moyes‘s side overcame Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0.
It is surely too little too late for Southampton to make a late charge for the European places, but had the Saints produced their rich vein of form earlier in the season, Ralph Hasenhuttl could very well be vying for continental competition right now.
The Saints’ resurgence continued with an ultimately comfortable 2-0 home win over basement side Norwich on Friday night, as Che Adams bundled home the opener before half time and Oriol Romeu‘s peach of a half-volley settled the contest.
Having taken 10 points from the last 12 on offer in the Premier League and their unbeaten streak in all competitions now standing at six matches, Southampton are well-placed to challenge for an FA Cup quarter-final place after bowing out in the semi-finals of the 2020-21 edition.
The 2013-14 season marks the last time that Southampton were sent packing in the fifth round – going down 1-0 to Sunderland that year – but it would take something special for the Saints to add to their only FA Cup triumph yet, which came all the way back in 1976.
Southampton made hard work of their victories over Swansea City and Coventry City in the earlier rounds of the competition – being forced into extra time on both occasions – but it is now three wins on the bounce and 11 unbeaten at St Mary’s for the South Coast specialists.
Celebrating his 27th birthday in the best way imaginable, Tomas Soucek was the hero of the hour for top-four chasing West Ham on Sunday, as the Hammers boosted their Champions League hopes at the expense of Wolves’ at the London Stadium.
After Declan Rice‘s scorching effort had struck the woodwork in the first half, Soucek poked home the all-important winner on the 59-minute mark after some strong play from Aaron Cresswell on the left, with West Ham not giving up their top-four pursuit just yet.
However, David Moyes’s side were very nearly the victims of one of the FA Cup’s most famous giant killings in round four, as Kidderminster Harriers threatened a spectacular result before Rice and Jarrod Bowen saved the Hammers’ bacon in the 90th and 120th minutes respectively.
The non-league side were ultimately undone, though, with West Ham vying to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since the 2015-16 season, but failing to keep a clean sheet in any of their last seven away matches could spell danger at the St Mary’s fortress.
Boxing Day 2021 saw Southampton edge a thrilling contest with West Ham 3-2 at the London Stadium to end an eight-game winless run against the Hammers, who have managed to keep three consecutive clean sheets in their last three trips to St Mary’s.
Southampton FA Cup form:
Southampton form (all competitions):
West Ham United FA Cup form:
West Ham United form (all competitions):
Southampton duo Nathan Tella and Alex McCarthy remain out of action following setbacks in their injury recoveries, and Lyanco may not be fit to return from his thigh problem before the beginning of May.
The Saints did not pick up any fresh concerns in Friday’s win over Norwich, and it would not be surprising to see Hasenhuttl stick with that winning formula, as long as fitness levels allow.
As for West Ham, Andriy Yarmolenko has understandably been granted time off amid the terrible situation in Ukraine, and the rest of West Ham’s absentee issues lie in the defensive third.
Southampton possible starting lineup:
Forster; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters; S. Armstrong, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Elyounoussi; Broja, Adams
West Ham United possible starting lineup:
Areola; Johnson, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Fornals, Benrahma; Antonio
We say: Southampton 2-1 West Ham United
This has all the makings of a truly fascinating affair between a Southampton side enjoying their best run of the season and a Hammers side seeking to mark their rapid rise with a slice of domestic glory.
It would not be at all surprising to see this one decided in extra time or from spot kicks, but with the Saints proving increasingly resilient at home and West Ham struggling to keep the back door shut on the road, we can envisage Hasenhuttl’s men advancing to the last eight.