WEST Ham manager Sam Allardyce insists the Premier League fixture list has been kinder to his club than Saints.

A lot has been made of the opponents that Nigel Adkins’ men have had to encounter in the first few weeks of the season, with Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton all on the schedule.

West Ham, by contrast, have faced just one of last season’s top eight sides, losing 3-1 at home to Arsenal in their most recent match.

Allardyce admits that has been a big factor in the Irons picking up seven more points than today’s opponents.

“We’ve coped very well over the start of our season, also I think we had a group of fixtures that were less challenging than Southampton’s,” he said.

“We were disappointed by Arsenal, but our confidence, particularly here at home, is very, very high and I hope we can see the same level of performance that I’ve seen, particularly against Sunderland, Fulham and Aston Villa at the start of the season.

“If we can hit that level of form, I think we’ll get opportunities to win the game.”

Allardyce believes that one of the biggest threats posed by Saints will be from set-pieces.

The club’s last three goals have come via headers, either from corners or free-kicks.

And Jos Hooiveld’s winner against West Ham at St Mary’s last season came from a corner.

But Allardyce is cautiously optimistic that the Hammers will not be caught out in such a fashion again. “Clearly one of Southampton’s strengths is set plays and I don’t want to jump the gun, but one of our strengths this year is not conceding from set plays, as well as scoring from them,” he said.

“We’ll have to try and maintain that level and if we cut that side of it out for Southampton then we obviously limit their percentages of chances of scoring a goal, because they’ve been good at it.”

Full story in today's Daily Echo