Southampton V West Ham at St. Mary's Stadium : Match Preview

03 February 2017 08:34
Southampton V West Ham - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Saints boss Claude Puel plans to cut Andy Carroll's supply line

Southampton boss Claude Puel has a simple way of stopping Andy Carroll - don't let him have the ball.

West Ham striker Carroll has returned from injury in superb form by hitting five goals in two months.

The big frontman might be licking his lips at taking on a makeshift Southampton central defence on Saturday, with Virgil van Dijk injured and Jose Fonte having joined the Hammers before the transfer deadline.

But Puel plans to cut the supply line in order to starve Carroll of the chances upon which he thrives.

"It's difficult to take him because he is so strong and we know his quality," said the Frenchman.

"It's important to win duels with good presence around the second ball, and always to defend with good cover.

"But we should not just try to win those duels. We need a good work habit and not to get just one player in duels.

"The most important thing is to keep the ball. If we keep the ball they cannot play it long or make crosses.

"We know this team, they have come back well in the table lately. They are a good opponent with confidence and we have to play a strong game."

Fonte will be making a swift return to St Mary's following his B#8million switch to West Ham.

His debut did not go entirely according to plan, as Fonte gave away a penalty in a 4-0 thrashing by Manchester City.

But the Portugal international spent seven successful years with Saints, helping them climb from League One to the Premier League, and Puel hopes he gets a decent reception.

"We cannot have regrets, when Jose left the club it was a good moment for him," he said.

"I hope he comes back with good support from the fans, just at the beginning of the game, and then all the support for our team.

"He did fantastic work for many years, he was an important player."

Puel will check on the fitness of new striker Manolo Gabbiadini before deciding whether to hand the Italy international an immediate debut.

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic is once again under scrutiny after his side's recent upturn in form came shuddering to a halt with that City defeat.

Former City boss Roberto Mancini was in London to watch his old club and has been linked with the Hammers job should they slide back down the table.

But Bilic shrugged off the rumours and insisted he is concentrating on the job in hand, starting at Southampton.

"I'm not surprised, those rumours happened last year, it happened this year, it happens at most clubs," he said.

"I'm not worried about it. I am trying to do a good job and I think I am doing. Have there been discussions with the board? No, not at all."

EFL Cup finalists Southampton have slipped below the Hammers after picking up just three points from a possible 18, much to Bilic's surprise.

"They've had a great run in the League Cup, I remembered they played some really good football and played some good away games - and then I saw they are below us," he added.

"I like the way they play, obviously they have their ups and downs and played a lot of games because of Europe and the EFL Cup.

"They have some new players and some injuries, and it will be a tough game for us and for them.

"It is an important game because we are only one point above them and we want to make that gap bigger."

Source: PAR