Hammers Happier with Saints Point

It was the first of back-to-back away games in the space of three days for West Ham United and their trip to Southampton on Tuesday evening meant they ended 2020 with a goalless draw.

Craig Dawson was handed his first start in a team that showed five changes to the side who took to the field for the 2-2 home draw with Brighton and Hove Albion forty eight hours earlier. Ryan Fredericks replaced Vladimír Coufal in defence as the Czech dropped to the bench, while the former Watford defender took the place of Fabián Balbuena who was left out of the matchday eighteen. Manuel Lanzini earnt his first start of the season, coming into midfield for Mark Noble with Declan Rice once again taking the captaincy.

Andriy Yarmolenko made an impact after coming on at half-time against the Seagulls and he too was given the chance to start, having not yet done so this term with Jarrod Bowen also taking his place amongst the substitutes. Pablo Fornals was restored to the starting line-up after being rested for the encounter against Graham Potter’s men, with the Spaniard filling in for Ben Johnson who didn’t make the journey to St Mary’s.

David Moyes has been saying continually in his pre-match news conferences since the 2-1 home win against Aston Villa last month that Michail Antonio has been back in training after a hamstring injury but may not yet be risked. However, the former Nottingham Forest man was included on what appeared to be a strong looking bench.

West Ham who hadn’t lost to the Saints since a 3-2 defeat here back in August 2017 but thought they had gone behind after only six minutes when Danny Ings, who was a surprise inclusion in their starting line-up, having been absent for a lengthy period due to injury, beat goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański. Thankfully for the Hammers, the flag went straight up as Che Adams was caught offside in the build-up.

The home side were clearly buoyed by the fact that they were given one extra day to prepare for this game and continued to orchestrate matters. They could have created another chance but Theo Walcott made a hash of his effort and sent the ball wide.

West Ham who were looking for a fourth away victory of the season eventually found their rhythm but couldn’t make the most of their opportunities.

There were still chances for either side to go into the break with the advantage. Southampton Captain James Ward-Prowse is often renowned for his dangerous free-kicks but he didn’t quite make the most of the one they were awarded as it didn’t trouble Fabianski.

At the other end, a freekick was blocked at close-range by Adams and Dawson accidentally got some of the man too, as his shot was deflected over. Lanzini also fired over when well placed.

When referee Andrew Madley blew for half-time, Moyes could see that it was a far better first-half display than the one his team showed against the Seagulls at the weekend.

Although the Irons dominated the second half they just couldn’t find a way to break the Saints’ resilience. Both Fornals and Tomáš Souček tried their luck, goalkeeper Alex McCarthy wasn’t really tested.

Moyes made his first substitution on the hour mark, as Lanzini was replaced by Saïd Benrahma. Another twelve minutes had passed before Bowen was introduced to take the place of Yarmolenko and five minutes later a final change was made as Antonio replaced Sébastien Haller.

The former Crystal Palace stopper was called into action when Bowen’s cross set up the former Brentford man who looked well set to clinch the points for the Hammers but McCarthy made a stunning save.

West Ham will be looking to start 2021 by claiming three points when Moyes takes them to his former club Everton on New Year’s Day.