SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 06: Michail Antonio of West Ham United takes on Graziano Pelle (19) and Ryan Bertrand (21) of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and West Ham United at St Mary’s Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
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West Ham host Southampton at the London Stadium on Sunday. Here is a combined XI using both team’s currently fit and available players ahead of their Premier league clash.
West Ham United will face-off with Southampton on Sunday, with both teams performing worse than expected so far. West Ham find themselves in the relegation zone with just one win to their name. Whilst Southampton’s one win and two draws sees them sat in 14th place.
Both teams have under-performed compared to last season, but West Ham have been much the worst of the two sides. The Hammers fans have been fighting in the stands, whilst the players have been performing rabonas and losing every game but one on the field. It’s been lively at the newly named London Stadium.
The two squads are quite evenly matched in many positions, so picking a combined XI proved complex in parts. West Ham have some better overall individuals, but those individuals haven’t exactly set the world alight yet this season.
WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 17: James Collins of West Ham United walks off after the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United at The Hawthorns on September 17, 2016 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by James Griffiths/West Ham United via Getty Images,)
Claude Puel inherited a solid, organized unit from Ronald Koeman when he took over in the summer. The Saints seem to have continued in that vein judging from the start of the season. However, both teams have struggled in the striker position.
With both teams misfiring up top, the biggest question might be who will the striker in the combined XI be? Will we get a false 9 to make the best of the bland striking options? The current form of the two teams don’t exactly make it straight forward.
However, rest assured, after much deliberation, the team sheet is in for this combined XI.
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 18 : Fraser Forster of Southampton in action during the Premier League match between Southampton and Swansea City at St Mary’s Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Southampton, England. (photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)
Goalkeeper and Defense
The goalkeeper in the team is Fraser Forster. The England international has played every game for the Saints so far this season, and is one of the better goalkeepers in the Premier League when at his best.
Adrian is a good goalkeeper, too, but certainly has not been at his best this season. Far from it. In fact the entire West Ham defense has been a shambles and Adrian has been a contributor to that.
The formation is a 4-2-3-1, and the back four includes zero West Ham defenders. Yes, zero. The Hammers have been abysmal defensively conceding 13 goals in total, whilst Southampton have conceded just six.
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Cedric Soares gets the nod at right back. Soares is dependable and provides good width getting forward as often as he does. Sam Byram is one for the future at West Ham but does not make it in ahead of his Portuguese opposition on this occasion.
The left back is Ryan Bertrand. Arthur Masuaku has failed to convince for the Hammers and has a knee injury anyway. Likewise Aaron Cresswell is also sidelined. So Alvaro Arbeloa is likely to step in to the Hammers team on Sunday. But not into this team.
The centre-backs are Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte as a partnership. It’s hard to put a West Ham centre-back in the way they have been playing. Angelo Ogbonna is a capable centre-back but has been on the bench more this season.
Winston Reid has been a good centre-back for a few years now but not so far this season. James Collins has had a rough time of it, too.
West Ham United’s Senegalese midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate (R) vies with Domzale’s Slovenian midfielder Zan Majer during the qualifying third round second leg Europa League football match between West Ham United and NK Domzale at the London Stadium in east London on August 4, 2016. West Ham are playing their first competitive match at their new home, the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, against Slovenia’s NK Domzale in the third qualifying round of the Europa League. / AFP / Ian KINGTON (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Playing a 4-2-3-1 formation, the team needs two central midfielders. Both teams provide a host of options that can be mixed and matched to make different combinations and partnerships. Ultimately, the end result was a midfield with a player from each team.
The first is Cheikhou Kouyate. Kouyate provides great strength and energy in the middle of the park and even likes to get forward and supplement the attack, too. Kouyate chips in with the odd goal when he can, but even otherwise, always finds a way to influence a game.
The Senegalese midfielder is a rounded player, but if there is one part of his game that can cause concern it is defensively. Which is why Oriol Romeu gets the spot next to him in this team. Romeu is strong defensively and is also very efficient in possession of the ball.
The pair compliment each other well and make for a balanced partnership. Mark Noble had a good shout to be included but hasn’t been at the same level this season as previous years. Whilst Jordy Clasie is yet to show the form which caught the eye whilst he was a youngster coming up in Holland.
A pairing of Kouyate and Romeu is currently the best available.
STRATFORD, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 21: West Ham United’s Dimitri Payet scores his sides first goal during the EFL Cup Third Round match between West Ham United and Accrington Stanley at London Stadium on September 21, 2016 in Stratford, England. (Photo by Rob Newell/CameraSport via Getty Images)
Three attacking midfielders to select in behind a lone striker. The first is obviously going to be Dimitri Payet. The Frenchman has been a revelation since arriving in England and was one of the best players in the Premier League last season.
Payet’s skill, creativity and goals would be a welcome addition for any team in the league. Either side of Payet we’re going to deploy some pace for him to find with his passing ability and vision. The first is Michail Antonio.
Antonio provides a valuable amount of goals, including eight in the Premier League last season. The 26-year-old is going to beat that this year, though, because he’s already netted five times in five games.
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Antonio was a real success story last year and that has continued so far into this campaign. Antonio plays on the right wing and Dusan Tadic is going to take his place opposite him on the left. Tadic, similar to Payet, was one of the best emerging players a few seasons ago when he arrived in England.
The Serbian has since levelled off from that standard, but is still a quality attacker in the league. Tadic can dribble with the ball, or pick his head up and find a pass. An attacking trio of Tadic, Payet and Antonio would be a dream to play in front of for the team’s striker.
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 21: Charlie Austin of Southampton celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the EFL Cup Third Round match between Southampton and Crystal Palace at St Mary’s Stadium on September 21, 2016 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Charlie Austin has to be the striker. He’s the only one in form! Austin can’t get in Puel’s Southampton starting XI consistently at the minute, but he gets in here. Shane Long has been struggling as the Saints striker. Whilst Austin has scored three goals in his last three appearances in all competitions.
Slaven Bilic spoke about West Ham wanting a striker in the summer. He got Andre Ayew from Swansea, but Ayew then picked up an injury in the Hammers’ opening game of the season. Simone Zaza also joined from Juventus but is yet to truly settle.
Andy Carroll is out injured for West Ham currently. As is wantaway Senegal striker, Diafra Sakho. Austin is really the only pick from what’s available, and yet it will be interesting to see if Puel actually picks him for the game against the Hammers on Sunday.
Austin doesn’t do anything flashy, but he sticks to the fundamental basics and he puts the ball in the net as often as he can. Service from Antonio and Tadic out wide would be well received by Austin, and then there’s always that guy Payet to create in the number 10 position.
That completes the combined XI lineup of West Ham and Southampton. In the end it was 8-3 to Southampton but that was mainly due to the current form of the Hammers. Oh, and how shockingly bad the defense has been in particular.
The good news for West Ham, however, is that they can now change all that starting on Sunday.