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West Ham United-Southampton Preview
Whilst manager Ralph Hasenhuttl still has his job at Southampton, a loss to the Saints this weekend could finally be the end of Manuel Pellegrini's tenure at West Ham United.
Pellegrini's Hammers look to avoid a third straight defeat when they visit St Mary's to face Southampton on Saturday.
A current 1-2-7 run has West Ham (4-4-8) sitting in 16th place, two spots above the Premier League relegation zone but only one point clear of the drop. Supporters remain unhappy with the club's brass for holding on to Pellegrini, who took over the team in late May 2018 and reportedly has told the higher-ups at West Ham that he is still the right man to turn things around at the club.
"Maybe we are not in our best moment, but we need to continue fighting," Pellegrini told West Ham's official website.
However, it would seem the leash is severely short for Pellegrini, who would almost certainly need to be sacked should the Hammers fall at Southampton (4-3-9), who sit atop the Premier League drop zone.
For the West Ham players, though, their only focus is winning. Regardless what the future might hold.
"Southampton is a big game for us, but every game is a big game for us at this moment," said Hammers defender Angelo Ogbonna, who had the lone goal on a 3-1 home loss to Arsenal on Monday. "We have to face reality. We need to step up as that's the only way to get away from this situation."
West Ham have managed just Ogbonna's goal whilst falling to Wolves and Arsenal after winning 1-0 at Chelsea on Nov. 30. The good news, at least historically, is that the Hammers have outscored Southampton 8-1 whilst winning three straight in the series.
The Saints posted back-to-back wins over fellow relegation-zone dwellers Watford and Norwich City before losing 2-1 at Newcastle United last weekend. Danny Ings stayed hot by putting Southampton up 1-0 in the 52nd minute, but the hosts responded with goals on 68 and 87th minutes to keep Hasenhuttl's side from recording a third straight victory.
Like Pellegrini, Hasenhuttl's job is far from safe, but the sacking talk seems to have simmered of late as the Saints took seven points from three games prior to facing Newcastle.
"It's football. Sometimes in the moment it is very frustrating for us," Hasenhuttl told Southampton's official website of his team's latest effort. "It was a big chance (against Newcastle) for three points. Three wins in a week would (have been) unbelievable."
Whilst a collective frustration continues to linger amidst the Southampton club, Ings has been the one consistent bright spot thus far on the 2019-20 campaign. The forward has recorded nine Premier League goals, including one in each of his last five top-flight matches.
Updated December 12, 2019