Southampton vs. West Ham may not be the most intriguing game on the Premier League slate of games this week, but there will be plenty of key players to focus on in this match.
Both clubs have started the season positively, taking four points from their first three games. The Saints have drawn their lone home game, while West Ham have a draw from their only away match. And both teams have scored two goals on the season.
In other words, there isn't much to separate these two teams thus far this year, and the performances of several individuals could be the deciding factor. Let's break down who those individuals might be in this contest.
Rickie Lambert, Southampton
Southampton's danger man—and England international!—is the key player West Ham will have to keep in check. Lambert is coming off an excellent season, having scored 15 goals in Premier League play last year.
He's already tallied once for Southampton in three games, and if Southampton are to get on the board in this one he's most likely to be the reason why.
Victor Wanyama, Southampton
Wanyama was brought on to be an anchor in the midfield, and to this point he hasn't quite lived up to those expectations. He's certainly brought a more defensive aspect to the midfield, however, averaging 1.3 tackles and interceptions per game, according to WhoScored.com.
If he bosses this game in the midfield, Southampton will like their chances in this contest.
Mohamed Diame, West Ham
Of course, with Wanyama trying to control the midfield on one side, expect Diame to do the same for the other. Diame has certainly thrown his weight around this season, averaging two tackles per game according to WhoScored.com.
He'll try to win the ball back quickly for West Ham and reinforce the defense against a Southampton attack featuring several dangerous weapons.
Pablo Osvaldo, Southampton
The new man from Roma has yet to fully show what he is capable of for Southampton, though he has offered glimpses of excellent play and should be a key contributor in this contest. But Southampton could really be dangerous on the attack if Osvaldo can slide in behind Lambert and the interplay between the two is positive.
Keep a close eye on Osvaldo in this one—he has the ability to be a difference-maker.