Premier League Preview: West Ham v Southampton
By Football News
A host of key players will likely return to Southampton's starting XI at West Ham on Saturday, after criticisms of Mauricio Pochettino.
The Argentinian came under fire for selecting what some perceived to be a weaker side for last weekend's FA Cup fifth-round match with Sunderland, which Southampton lost 1-0.
With the club comfortably placed eighth in the Premier League table, critics pointed the finger at Pochettino for passing up an opportunity to reach the latter stages of the competition as Craig Gardner's second-half strike sent them crashing out.
Pochettino left out first-team regulars Artur Boruc, Jay Rodriguez, Morgan Schneiderlin and Jose Fonte for that game, but on Thursday he refuted claims that he had treated the cup with a lack of respect.
"The first thing I want to make clear is we've always shown proof that we fully care about the English competitions," he said.
"Particularly the FA Cup and League Cup, we've always shown respect.
"We always choose the best starting XI, we did what we thought was for the club, we made the correct decision in picking those players."
Jos Hooiveld is out with an eye problem, but Pochettino may include Dejan Lovren and Gaston Ramirez as the pair make their comeback from ankle injuries.
The match also represents the first time Southampton have been refereed by Mark Clattenburg, since the club lodged a complaint against the official amid remarks allegedly made towards Adam Lallana in December's 2-1 defeat at Everton.
Cup disappointment aside, Southampton are six unbeaten in the league while their opponents have won three on the spin and have not conceded in four matches, a run which has seen them climb from the bottom three up to 11th.#
West Ham can take confidence from a 4-1 win over Southampton at Upton Park last season, and the fact only one of the last 10 meetings between the sides has resulted in an away win.
The hosts will be without Andy Carroll, who serves the last of a three-game ban for striking Swansea City's Chico Flores, but manager Sam Allardyce believes Saturday's game provides a chance to continue their momentum and boost their chances of survival.
"We've got to try and maintain the run of results that we've had," he said.
"Saturday will be a tough game and a big test for us. We're looking forward to the game. We're a long way from being safe, a long way.
"There's a long way to go in terms of trying to get safe so we must try and maintain the good run of results we've had over the last few weeks."