Manuel Pellegrini

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Premier League Preview: Southampton v. West Ham

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Saturday’s final Premier League fixture is set to pit a pair of underperforming relegation battlers against one another when Southampton host West Ham United at St. Mary’s Stadium (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSports.com). Managers Ralph Hasenhuttl and Manuel Pellegrini have each flirted with being fired in recent weeks, though the former was able to pull himself back from the edge with back-to-back wins last week.

Southampton had lost six of eight games during a two-month winless skid before beating Watford and Norwich City, both at home, to not only save the Austrain’s job but also pull his side to within touching distance of safety from the relegation zone.

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As for West Ham, Pellegrini is hanging on by a thread as he faces the possibility of being the next PL manager fired on the back of a 1W-2D-7L record in the Hammers’ last 10 games. To call that run of results — comprising more than 25 percent of the season — relegation form would be an understatement.

It’s not just the results which have been disastrous, but more so the margin by which they’ve suffered them. In those 10 games, West Ham have managed to conceded fewer than two goals only twice, including just one clean sheet. A number of bottom-half sides have found lots of joy against them: Newcastle United, Burnley, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal each scored three; Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers each score two.

Injuries/suspensions

Southampton: QUESTIONABLE – Stuart Armstrong (hamstring)

West Ham United: OUT – Manuel Lanzini (clavicle), Jack Wilshere (groin), Lukasz Fabianski (thigh), Winston Reid (knee)


Projected lineups

Southampton: Gunn — Soares, Vestergaard, Yoshida, Bertrand — Djenepo, Ward-Prowse, Hojberg, Redmond — Long, Ings

West Ham: Martin — Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell — Snodgrass, Noble, Rice, Anderson — Haller, Antonio


What they’re saying

Hasenhuttl, on his place as Saints boss: “This experience has been very important for me as a manager and I’m happy that I went through such a period. I’m thankful to the club that it is going a different way, not immediately sacking the manager but supporting him. Thank you to everyone at the club, I could feel big support in this moment, which is important for the future of the club. That was very important for me as a manager, I’ve never had such a long time without winning in my managerial career.”

Pellegrini, on his place as West Ham boss: “What I really need is to win the game but maybe I’m not in my job on Monday. That’s not a problem of the job. The problem is to try to improve what you’re doing because we don’t have the results. It’s a difficult league where the difference is very little between one player and the other one. I repeat it’s not normal to have five points and very bad results. That’s why I know that the owners trust what we are doing because with another owner you may have been sacked before, and we know what football is and we are trying to get results.”


Prediction

Given their medium-term form and the fact they’re playing at home, Southampton should be winning this game. If they’ve done one thing right all season, it’s that they’ve beaten the rest of the sides down near the relegation zone when they’ve faced them head to head. Whether or not West Ham will remain down there remains to be seen, and could be revealed based on what happens Saturday. Saints 2-2 West Ham.

Arsenal overruns West Ham with 3 second half goals

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Who saw that coming?

With three goals in a nine-minute span in the second half, Arsenal overcame a one-goal halftime deficit to comfortably beat West Ham, 3-1, on Monday night at the Olympic Stadium. It was a complete reversal after a second half where Arsenal didn’t attempt a single shot on target in the first half and were second-best in winning duals and second balls.

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But it was the Arsenal stars who helped the club when it was effectively on its knee, facing a tenth-straight match without a win. Goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe and youngster Gabriel Martinelli secured all three points for Arsenal.

On the other side, West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini is in a whole host of trouble. West Ham sits just one point above the relegation zone after 16 league matches, and Pellegrini was expected to take the Hammers to the next level.


Three things we learned

1. Arsenal stars finally step up: With Arsenal on the verge of another demoralizing defeat, the club’s expensive strike force helped turn the tide in the second half. Martinelli, Aubameyang, and Pepe all played a huge role, and their goals, arguably against the run of play, were more than enough to inject some excitement into the club.

2. No Luiz, No Problem: Arsenal may have found its new starting centerback combination. After multiple error-prone performances with Sokratis playing alongside David Luiz, Arsenal boss Freddy Ljunberg went with Calum Chambers to partner Sokratis. The end result was a much more organized backline, and fewer mistakes, leading to fewer allowed goals.

3. Pellegrini on the hot seat: Pellegrini will have a nervous few days ahead of him. Despite a rare win over Chelsea last week, West Ham has now dropped successive defeats, first to Wolves and now Arsenal, leaving West Ham on the edge of relegation. Could Pellegrini last until January?

Man of the Match: Arsenal’s defense deserves credit, but goals win games, so Man of the Match has to go to Nicolas Pepe. The Ivory Coast international absolutely earned his massive transfer fee on Monday, scoring a beautiful curler and then setting up Aubameyang with a chip into the box.


In the run up to kickoff, and even halftime, Arsenal had plenty of obstacles to overcome.

Right back Hector Bellerin was forced out of the starting lineup during pregame warmups, and left back Kieran Tierney couldn’t finish the match, having to be substituted midway through the first half.

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Arsenal interim coach Freddie Ljungberg also made some big lineup decisions. Alexandre Lacazette and David Luiz were dropped, with Brazilian teenager Gabriel Martinelli starting up top and Calum Chambers moving inside to centerback. It took 60 minutes, but those moves paid dividends in the end.

However, before then, West Ham controlled the first half, even with less of the ball. The Hammers showed more desire and determination than Arsenal, winning many second balls, and it led to the opening goal. A corner kick in the 38th minute pinballed in and out of the box, with Arsenal twice failing to clear it. Eventually, the ball fell to Pablo Fornals, who chipped a ball into the middle of the box. West Ham centerback Angelo Ogbonna, still up in the box after the corner kick, dashed onto it and though it went off his shoulder, deflected off an Arsenal defender and in for a goal. VAR checked it, as it does with every goal, but the decision stood, and it was well deserved.

West Ham even looked more likely to score a second late in the first half and then early in the second half, as Arsenal couldn’t string many passes together in their own third or the final third.

In the 60th minute, it was like a flip was switched. Suddenly, West Ham provided no pressure on Arsenal’s backline when it had the ball, allowing Arsenal to easily break the lines. After two passes getting through a half-dozen defenders, the ball ended up on the left wing with Aubameyang. Aubameyang crosses into the center and with a first-time finish, suddenly Martinelli put Arsenal level at 1-1.

In the 66th minute, again Arsenal broke through West Ham’s midfield quite easily. Dribbling forward, Mesut Ozil passed into the middle to Aubameyang, who fed Pepe wide. Pepe, who was one-on-one with Aaron Cresswell, cut inside and curled home a beauty to make it 2-1, Arsenal.

Three minutes later, Aubameyang and Pepe teamed up again. Pepe cut inside, but instead of shooting, he slyly chipped a ball into the box. Aubameyang waited for it and as he was inside, scissor kicked the ball in to make it 3-1.

With West Ham shellshocked, Arsenal held on late for a huge win, moving the club back into the top half of the Premier League table.

This story will be updated.

Premier League Preview: West Ham United v. Arsenal

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Two struggling London sides meet Monday when West Ham United hosts Arsenal (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The sides might’ve expected they’d be within close proximity at this point on the fixture list, but two wildly disappointing seasons means the three points between the Gunners and Irons comes with the former in 11th and the latter 16th.

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It’s been nine matches since Arsenal beat someone, 11 since it happened in the Premier League. West Ham hasn’t been much better, winning once in its last 10.

Freddie Ljungberg has yet to win as Arsenal interim boss, while West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini could see his current stint in London end without more results like the Nov. 30 win at Chelsea.

Monday versus Arsenal would qualify.


Injuries/suspensions

West Ham United: OUT —  Jack Wilshere, Lukasz Fabianski, Manuel Lanzini, Winston Reid. QUESTIONABLE — Michail Antonio.

Arsenal: OUT — Dani Ceballos. QUESTIONABLE — Rob Holding.


Probable lineups

West Ham United: Martin; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Fredericks; Rice, Noble, Yarmolenko, Anderson, Snodgrass, Haller.

Arsenal: Leno; Kolasinac, Sokratis, Luiz, Bellerin, Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.


What they’re saying

West Ham’s Antonio sees an opportunity: “The only three teams that are really performing are Liverpool, Leicester and Man City. Everyone else is getting beaten, and it means we’ve had a missed opportunity so far this season. We started the season off brightly, the best start we’ve had for four years, but then we’ve had a slump. Everyone’s having a slump and this is our slump. Now it’s time for us to start turning up. We’ve been in this situation before and we know how to dig in and pull ourselves up again.”

Arsenal’s Ljungberg on setting targets: “I don’t think we should stop talking about the top four, but for us it’s about concentrating on what we’re doing here now and not look up, down, sideways. We just need to work on our own game and our own confidence.”


Prediction

Really, you wouldn’t want to predict anything from these sides right now besides goals. We’ll give an edge in desperation to the hosts and a 2-2 draw.

West Ham beats Chelsea behind surprise star Martin

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West Ham United got a massive win, easing some of the pressure on manager Manuel Pellegrini with a 1-0 defeat of Chelsea on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

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It was a second-straight league loss for the Blues, whose 26 points are six better than fifth place Spurs.

West Ham’s win moves it all the way up to 13th with 16 points.


Three things we learned

1. Martin‘s long awaited debut ends in tears (the good kind): David Martin had made 346 senior appearances in his career, 282 in League One, before being called upon by Manuel Pellegrini for a woeful West Ham facing dangerous Chelsea. It went incredibly well for the 33-year-old, with an emotional Martin lifted off the turf by his teammates after a six-save appearance. He wasn’t just a good story, he was the easy Man of the Match. 1-for-1.

The phrase “Look what it means to him” is incredibly over-used, but first perfectly here.

2: Pulisic Watch: American winger Christian Pulisic showed good interplay with Olivier Giroud and was dangerous enough on the day, though his impact waned in the second half as the Blues focused on Willian and the right side of the attack. Based on form, you would’ve expected him to score a difficult back post volley that served as his most promising chance to score a goal. Five shots and six successful dribbles show he was far from the problem, but a 1-0 loss hurts more when you’re a star attacker.

3. No passengers as Irons back their boss: West Ham was not supposed to be struggling in the bottom half this season, and Manuel Pellegrini appeared on the brink well before this match. He showed the guts to sit struggling star striker Sebastien Haller, and Michail Antonio was a force up top (even if his goal was pulled back by VAR). Who knows how long of a stay this earned Pellegrini, but it was certainly earned with solid performances from his Starting XI.


Christian Pulisic was lively again for Chelsea, and spun away from a defender in the 21st minute to see his attempted 1-2 with Olivier Giroud bound back onto his path, his shot attempt blocked by a sliding West Ham defender.

It was the same two Blues combining late for a possible penalty shout, as Pulisic thought he won one when his 1-2 with Olivier Giroud struck Fabian Balbuena’s arm, but no call arrived.

West Ham then went in front through Cresswell, who came forward from his left back position to lash a shot across goal that beat Kepa Arrizabalaga to the far post.

Frank Lampard pulled off Jorginho and Pedro in the 63rd in favor of N’Golo Kante and Willian.

West Ham looked to have made it 2-0 when Robert Snodgrass drove around Willian and crossed over Kurt Zouma, but VAR saw that the ball bound off Michail Antonio’s arm and into the goal.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. West Ham

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  • Chelsea sit in 4th place, two points back of Man City
  • West Ham sit in 17th place, three points above the relegation zone
  • The Hammers have lost four of their last five matches. Chelsea meanwhile is looking for win seven in its last eight Premier League games.
  • Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 13 home Premier League meetings with West Ham (W9), last losing to the Hammers by a 3-2 scoreline in September 2002.

Chelsea look to keep pace in the top four and get back to winning ways as Frank Lampard‘s side hosts a London derby against struggling West Ham United (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSports.com).

Chelsea dropped a 2-1 scoreline last week to Man City, and then was compounded with a wild 2-2 draw with Valencia in mid-week UEFA Champions League action. Defense has been an issue, as Chelsea has allowed two or more goals in three of its last four matches.

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Saturday’s match could be a big boost of confidence for Lampard’s men though, as West Ham comes to Stamford Bridge. The Hammers are in horrendous form recently under former Man City title-winning coach Manuel Pellegrini. Defensively the team has been all over the place, especially without Winston Reid, though Reid is back in training. However, based on current form, even a Chelsea team without Tammy Abraham, out with injury, should be just fine, with Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic running havoc along the wings.

Injuries/suspensions

Chelsea: OUT – Tammy Abraham (hip)

West Ham: OUT – Issa Diop (suspension), Winston Reid, Lukasz Fabianski, Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere (all injured)


Projected lineups

Chelsea: Kepa – Azpilicueta, Tomori, Zouma, Emerson – Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic – Pulisic, Batshuayi, Willian

West Ham: Roberto – Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell – Felipe Anderson, Rice, Noble, Yarmolenko – Haller


What they’re saying

Frank Lampard on facing a struggling West Ham: “I expect West Ham to bring passion and effort. They are in a difficult place because of their recent run, and sometimes that can bring out the best in players. You look at people in their team like Mark Noble and Declan Rice, players that care for the club, and they want to react to a manager who is a top manager so I am expecting a reaction from them. We know they have individual quality in forward areas so I am taking the game nowhere near lightly. It is a tough match.”

Mark Noble on improving West Ham’s defense: “We have to defend better as a team but that side of the game does seem to have become ‘uncool’,” he observed. “The philosophy of football seems to have changed. Maybe it doesn’t look that great if the ball is near the touchline and you run over and smash it into the crowd so your team can get back into shape. Instead now, you maybe try and step over, pass it back to the ‘keeper who kicks it straight up in the air and results in a 50/50 challenge. The teams who defend best normally do well.”


Prediction

West Ham faces Chelsea at arguably the worst time. For a team in need of a pick-me-up, to have to go to Stamford Bridge and face one of the quickest, most dynamic attacks in the Premier League will leave some West Ham players with serious nerves in the tunnel before taking the field. Chelsea should have no issues, and though it’s a London derby, the hosts should take all three points.

Chelsea 3-1 West Ham