Southampton 1-1 West Ham United
Sunday, 16th October 2022
by Chris Wilkerson
There was frustration in the air as West Ham drew away at Southampton this Sunday afternoon, even as the Hammers came from behind to draw 1-1.A controversial first-half goal from Romain Perraud had given Ralph Hasenhuttl's side the advantage, but the Hammers fought back and dominated the second half. After waves of pressure, it was the captain Declan Rice who stepped up and delivered, scoring a wonderful goal to grab his side a point.
There won't be a soul in claret and blue who was not frustrated to come away with only the point after controlling most of the game, but whilst some will be merely annoyed that the victory wasn't claimed, others will wonder whether the manager could have been more positive.
In fairness to David Moyes, he was hamstrung by a mini-injury crisis at the back, with both Zouma and Dawson unfit to play and Ogbonna only fit enough to make the bench. It left him with a dilemma, and the manager responded by using both Cresswell and Johnson as makeshift centre backs in a three, either side of Thilo Kehrer, with Coufal and Emerson playing as wing-backs.
To many, the manager used one more defender than necessary, especially when that defence is shielded by Soucek and Rice. To others, the manager was exercising caution to protect a thrown-together defence, and caution can always be abandoned if required.
Whatever your feelings, the Hammers did not take the initiative until the second half. After a quick start where Emerson came close with an effort from the edge of the box, West Ham were forced deep and into a defensive shell.
That's not to say this was a boring game of anxious football, both teams made chances and Southampton did not look short of confidence, despite recent results. By the 16th minute, the Saints had had 70% of possession,
What they didn't have was much in terms of ingenuity. In a season in which they have yet to shine, Southampton looked as if they had gone back to basics. Adams and Armstrong up front together were working the channels hard and pulling wide to find space.
That kind of hard work can produce chances without a need for subtlety. One simple ball down the right channel was enough to get Adams in, the Scotland striker bullying Kehrer - and arguably fouling the German - to get onto the ball in the area. His shot was too close to Fabianski and well saved.
West Ham immediately answered, Gianluca Scamacca making himself some space 35 yards from goal and unleashing. The ball whistled just wide of the post with the goalkeeper comfortably beaten.
The Italian was busy, a constant threat and comfortably the best player on the pitch for large swathes.
With West Ham showing they could threaten without playing to their best, Southampton needed to take advantage of their time on top.
They were helped by the referee. A loose ball rolled free 10 yards from the West Ham area, which both Bowen and Perraud went for. Bowen was first to it, until the referee stepped across him and blocked his path to the ball.
With Bowen disrupted, Perraud not only made it to the ball first, but had space to step forward and fire a shot at goal. The shot was poor, but sometimes luck is on your side. It deflected off Ben Johnson, sending the ball flying into the bottom corner and into the back of the net.
The West Ham players were incensed, and it soon became difficult to know for which reason. Not only had the referee obstructed Bowen, but the throw-in that led to the loose ball was also controversial, with replays showing nearly the whole of Walker-Peters' foot had come onto the pitch to take the throw.
VAR made a quick decision, laughably quick considering the two incidents, and the goal was given, much to West Ham's annoyance. The decision was later described as "ridiculous" by David Moyes, who blamed the officiating of both Peter Bankes and VAR for West Ham not taking all three points.
He was angry, too, about a wrestling match started by the goalscorer Perraud on an earlier corner, where he defender hauled Soucek to the ground off the ball as the Czech midfielder tried to attack a corner. To Moyes's credit, he had a point.
The goal, and maybe the feeling of indignation woke West Ham up. Scamacca was becoming more and more central to their play, and again came close after a lovely exchange of passes gave enough space to shoot at goal. His curled effort went just wide.
Around the half-hour mark, Southampton had their last really threatening moment of the half. This time, a throw was smartly volleyed centrally and then guided through to Adams in the area. The striker's driven shot forced a very good save from Fabianski, and the goalkeeper was up quickly to smother any follow-up attempt as Adams reacted to the rebound.
The Hammers had lost nine of the last 12 away games in the Premier League, and with a resurgent Liverpool to face at Anfield on Wednesday, this was also the last of a run of somewhat easier games.
They missed plenty of chances to level. Scamacca created the best chance of the half from a chance he had wasted himself.
Having got in behind and beating one defender to the ball, Scamacca was into the area as he lashed a shot at goal, but a sliding defender got back to block. The Italian was sharp to the loose ball, getting on it and looking up to the area and seeing Paqueta's run into the box.
His cross was perfect, but Paqueta's header did not match that quality. It was close, but from 10 yards and at a perfect height, he could have done better than hitting the outside of the post.
The hosts were pinned into their own area as the half ended, but it was enough to preserve their lead.
With momentum and dominance in their favour, many expected the manager to look to his attacking options on the bench during the break. He did not.
There was little change in the pattern of play either, West Ham coming close within a minute of the restart, but Paqueta could only turn his opening into a shot straight at the goalkeeper. Moments later, Scamacca attacked a Bowen cross at the front post and improvised well to send it at goal with his thigh, but off target.
Southampton lived only for the counter attack, which West Ham dealt with well, for the most part. Their one telling break was dangerous, Armstrong driving from his own box to halfway and passing Elyounoussi down the flank. He drove down his left channel and into the box before attempting to square to Adams. Had Cresswell not been there to intercept, the striker would have struggled to score.
The manager made his first change just before the hour was up, introducing Benrahma for Emerson. Five minutes later, West Ham were level.
Benrahma was a vital part of it, and had added a skilful and direct threat on the left. This time, he drove to the byline but cut back and passed to Cresswell. Credit to the left back here, who had plenty of space to cross and men in the middle waiting, but played inside to Rice.
He shared passes with Benrahma, moving into the space to get himself free, and then drove into the box. Shifting it into space on his right, Rice curled a ball around the defender rushing to meet him and across from the left of goal to his right, bending beautifully in the bottom corner.
With a little over 25 minutes remaining, West Ham were level again and hunting for all three points.
They flew forward with wave after wave of attack and Southampton looked lost. They settled deep, protecting their box, and were lucky West Ham's attack was not firing. Each chance and every exciting moment was hurt by some inaccuracy or indecision. A perfect example came when Bowen had possession just inside the Southampton half on a turnover, with some rare space open ahead of him. To his right ran Paqueta, to his left Scamacca.
Bowen chose the right option, feeding Paqueta, but his pass was slower than needed and a little behind the Brazilian. It forced him to take more touches and to slow down his forward run, and so whilst his shot being blocked didn't look like too big an opportunity wasted, that first pass being better would have made things much easier.
Having struggled to do anything but survive since the West Ham goal, their manager reacted. He sent on four substitutes at once, and whilst the hosts were not transformed by the move, it did arrest some of the panic that looked to have taken hold. The fresh legs didn't hurt, either.
The last real chance came for Scamacca. The partnership that has been building was evident once more, Paqueta flicking a ball through for Scamacca. Bazunu was quick off his line, but too eager again and was caught between ball and goal, not close enough to either. The Italian could have lifted the ball over the goalkeeper, but his head was down, and he took on the driven shot, and hit it right at a relieved goalkeeper.
It was not until the 87th minute that Moyes turned to his bench for one last throw of the dice. On came Antonio and Lanzini for Scamacca and Paqueta. It came to nothing.
It stayed 1-1, and you may well have noticed how little corners have been mentioned in this report. The Hammers finished with 14, but created nothing from any of them. In the end, it was 25 shots, 14 corners, no Craig Dawson, and only one point.
David Moyes 5/10
This will split opinion, but my take on it was the system was wrong to start with, the manager was too slow to change it, too slow to introduce players later on and too cautious throughout. His side were good, and he takes credit for that, of course, but he could have done more and should look beyond just what chances weren't taken as to why we didn't win that game.
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Player RatingsLukasz Fabianski
Couple crucial saves, with nothing he could do about the Southampton goal.
Did well enough at wing-back, even if he does not look a natural at it. Defensively sound, could have been better in possession, but again made the right a one-man flank as Bowen went looking to threaten inside.
A real resurgence in these early months from Cresswell. Defensively very good, smart in attack and moved back to left back without missing a step.
Solid defensively, but far too safe with the ball. Hit one beautiful first-time pass after a cleared corner, driven low across the pitch. It was brilliant, and it is something he should watch over and over as a reminder that he is capable of such things. He is a better footballer than he appears to believe, and confidence is needed to improve his game.
Did pretty well to manage the defence and has shown good leadership qualities very early in his West Ham career. Shouldn?EUR(TM)t have been beaten by Adams on that first-half chance, but he was probably fouled.
Sacrificed to change the system, rather than because of a poor performance. Faded in the second half, a relatively average performance that had good moments.
Grew into it and then carried his team to a point with a fine individual goal. 95% pass accuracy, two chances created, two interceptions, a stunning goal, ground duel success and ball recoveries both high and impressive.
Again, Soucek was a useful defensive tool, but hindered the team with his use of the ball. Late on, it was clear Soucek was only on the pitch for his height, but keeping him in the middle of the park meant his play on the ball was probably more problematic than if we had taken him off. But his defensive work was good, and six tackles shows he protected the defenders well.
An interesting performance by Bowen. Didn?EUR(TM)t carry the same goal threat as he has recently, but made chances and worked hard. Corners were poor, and he was lucky not to be replaced late on.
Eventually, he?EUR(TM)s going to have to be more clinical in front of goal, but the Brazilian was left to be sole creator for much of the game and made things happen. Some sloppy passes, and he really should have put the header away, but his influence is growing.
Another game where he could have come away with a hat-trick, but his all-round play was good, he carried a threat even when the team wasn?EUR(TM)t at their best, and clearly scares defenders.
(Replaced Emerson 58) A fast start gave way to a meek finish, but he changed the dynamic and his dribbling gave us an edge. The play on the goal was simple, but good, and his cameo made us better.
(Replaced Scamacca 86) In a brief cameo, he added nothing.
(Replaced Paqueta 86) In a brief cameo, he added nothing.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, Aaron Cresswell, Ben Johnson, Thilo Kehrer, Emerson Palmieri, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta, Gianluca Scamacca.
Sent off: None.
Southampton: Bazunu, Walker-Peters, Bella-Kotchap (Caleta-Car 42), Salisu, Perraud, Maitland-Niles (Diallo 74), Aribo (Edozie 74), Ward-Prowse, Elyounoussi, A.Armstrong (S.Armstrong 74), Adams (Mara 74).
Subs not used: McCarthy, Lyanco, Djenepo, Larios.
Goals: Perraud (20).
Booked: Walker-Peters (43).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Peter Bankes.
Man of the Match: Declan Rice.