Southampton-West Ham United Preview

RYAN WILLOX (STATS Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Two of the Premier League's form teams clash at Upton Park on Saturday when West Ham United host Southampton.

Only Liverpool and Chelsea (14) have accumulated more points than the Hammers (13) over the last six games.

In that same Premier League six-match span Southampton (3-3-0) have a better record than the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United.

The Hammers (7-7-12) have won three straight, each by a 2-0 scoreline, but have not played since beating Norwich City on Feb. 11 after a humbling FA Cup exit to Nottingham Forest excused them from further commitments in that competition last weekend.

Sam Allardyce's men spent the impromptu break warm-weather training in Dubai and will be hoping the lack of competitive activity doesn't adversely affect their attempts to stave off relegation.

Recent good form notwithstanding, the Hammers are still just four points outside the relegation zone and defender Guy Demel believes they can't take anyone lightly despite their recent run.

"We've had some good results recently and that's why we need to keep on getting points, to make sure we stay on the good side and keep the positive atmosphere," Demel told the official club website. "The league is so tight and that's one of the reasons that the Premier League is the best league in the world.

"You look at Spain and there's three teams at the top, then the fourth is 16 points behind, but here in England it's really close, both at the top and the bottom. That's why you have to perform in every game because nobody is going to give you points for free."

Southampton's form this season has uncapped Portuguese defender Jose Fonte dreaming of an unlikely call up to represent his country at the World Cup this summer.

The Saints are relatively safe in the middle ground of the Premier League table but Fonte refutes claims they can rest of their laurels with so many of manager Mauricio Pochettino's players on the fringe of national team honours.

Southampton (10-9-7) sit six points adrift of the European places in eighth and are a comfortable 15 points out of the relegation zone.

"People want to be on the plane to Brazil, so we have a lot to play for," Fonte told the official club website. "We want to win every game.

"Why can't I dream about it? If I keep playing well, I hope I have a chance at least to prove myself. Since Mauricio took over, he's made me a better player. That's the truth. I feel good, I feel confident. Physically, I'm in the best shape of my life. I feel like this has been my best season so far."

The Saints are hopeful that Gaston Ramirez and Dejan Lovren will recover from their respective ankle injuries in time for the visit to London.

West Ham will be without Ricardo Vaz Te and Joey O'Brien while Andy Carroll will serve the last game of his three match ban.

Southampton have lost just one of their last eight meetings with West Ham in all competitions. A number of those have been draws, however, with three of the last four unable to produce a winner and the last two matches ending level.

That West Ham win came in the corresponding fixture last season. The match was scoreless at half time but quick-fire goals from Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan after the break gave the Hammers the advantage. Adam Lallana responded for the Saints but late goals from Noble and Modibo Maiga snuffed out the comeback.

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