Southampton v West Ham preview: Mario Lemina could start; Virgil van Dijk still absent
Last Updated: 19/08/17 1:43pm
Southampton's record signing Mario Lemina could start against West Ham on Saturday, but Virgil van Dijk will not be considered for selection.
Lemina signed from Juventus this summer in a deal which could rise to £20m, but was an unused substitute in last weekend's 0-0 draw at home to Swansea.
However, wantaway defender Van Dijk will not feature, even though Southampton remain determined not to sell the highly-prized centre-back in this transfer window.
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic said this week has "a lot of sympathy" with for Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino over the Van Dijk situation.
This is the second of three straight away games for West Ham and Bilic is hoping to bounce back after their opening 4-0 defeat at Manchester United last Sunday.
Defender Ryan Bertrand has shaken off a knock, which means Southampton have a clean bill of health for the game.
Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy has returned to full fitness to take a seat on the bench, meaning Van Dijk is the only first-team player unavailable for selection.
Michail Antonio returns to the West Ham squad for the trip to the south coast.
The winger underwent a hamstring operation over the summer and was not ready for last Sunday's defeat, but he will feature at St Mary's.
Midfielders Cheikhou Kouyate and Manuel Lanzini (both knee) and striker Andy Carroll (thigh) remain sidelined, although all three are back in training.
Southampton have won two of their last three Premier League games against West Ham, as many as in the previous nine combined.
The Hammers won this won fixture 3-1 in 2016-17; they last won consecutive away league games against Southampton in December 1952.
Southampton attempted 29 shots in their opening Premier League match of 2017-18 versus Swansea City, but only two of these were on target (7%).
The last time West Ham lost both of their opening two games to a league season was in 2010-11, the season they suffered their second relegation from the Premier League.
Since the start of last season, St. Mary's has seen fewer goals than any other Premier League stadium (excluding promoted sides), with just 38 goals being scored in 20 games at the ground (F17 A21).
I thought for 25 minutes West Ham were comfortable against Manchester United last weekend, but after 2-0 it was cringeworthy and worrying. If they lose this game then they have another two away games to come as well.
I heard Karren Brady on The Debate on Sky Sports saying they have four away games now but then three home games in a row in March - wow!
You need to get off to a good start in the Premier League and not be behind the eight ball. Teams at the bottom won't win five games on the spin and I think it's worrying for West Ham. I didn't like what I saw. There are ways of losing matches and at the end against Man Utd it could have been anything.
Southampton had chances last week against Swansea, like that sitter Maya Yoshida missed at the back post, and I think they will get off the mark.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)
Southampton are Sky Bet's 7/10 favourites for the victory with West Ham 19/5 while the draw is priced at 14/5. Manolo Gabbiadini heads the first goalscorer betting at 7/2 from Charlie Austin (4/1), while Javier Hernandez leads the visitors' side of the market at 15/2.