Ralph Hasenhüttl insists the final game of the season is too important for him to rotate his squad and try out new ideas, as the Southampton boss targets a 12th-place finish.
Such is the congested nature of the table, Saints could still finish anywhere between 12th and 16th when the Premier League season draws to a close on Sunday.
Only victory at the London Stadium over a West Ham side chasing European football would give Saints the chance to snatch 12th from Wolves and Crystal Palace, who face Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.
“It’s too important,” he said, when asked if he would use the game to experiment. “We have a long pre-season when we can test and try everything, but not on Sunday.
“We are ending up in the position we deserve to end up. When we are 12th you say, ‘yes, one spot lower than last season is ok.’
“That would be great, but anything in between is a position we cannot be one hundred percent happy with, because there was more possible, I think.”
West Ham cannot finish any higher than sixth – the position they currently occupy – but a draw would be enough for the Hammers to stay there, as they welcome fans back on the final day.
“They did a very good job, and it’s still very difficult to come in the Champions League or end up in the Europa League – you see how tough it is in this league to end up high,” Hasenhüttl added.
“They made a very good signing with Lingard in the winter, which helped them massively, a fantastic player. They have potential to be a top six or top seven club, this is what they’ve shown this season.
“This is not so surprising when players like Haller cost 40 million or something like that. This is not possible for us to sign such players, but ok, this is not our goal. We have different philosophies, and in one game I don’t see a reason why we should not be competitive against them.
“They are a strong side but in the first game this season we played a very good game. We drew but we had chances to win, and they had one big chance to win. They are normally very clinical when they have a chance, especially in and around the box with their qualities.
“In their own stadium we didn’t compete so good in the last years, so we have to go there and do it better.”