West Ham United ended their 2020/21 campaign with a 3-0 victory over Southampton in Stratford on Sunday afternoon.
The three points gained from this fixture saw the Hammers set a new club record for the highest number of points in a season, plus, the result also means that they have qualified for the UEFA Europa League group stages, as they finished sixth in the Premier League table.
David Moyes made two changes from the team that came from behind to triumph at West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns last Wednesday, as Łukasz Fabiański had made a quicker than expected recovery from a knee injury to replace Darren Randolph in goal, while Jarrod Bowen was also restored to the starting line-up as Saïd Benrahma dropped to the bench.
The hosts were looking for a first home win since 11 April but saw the visitors have the better of the opening stages. A great team move from Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side should have seen them open the scoring inside the first ten minutes.
Club captain James Ward-Prowse played a one-two with Danny Ings, who in turn set up Liverpool loanee Takumi Minamino. The Japanese striker beat Fabiański but luckily for the hosts, it went inches wide of the post.
After that scare, the Irons went close themselves as the clock ticked onto the twenty-minute mark. Bowen’s corner was causing problems. Although visiting stopper Alex McCarthy tried to clear the danger, the ball deflected off Kyle Walker-Peters and was heading towards goal but somehow, Mohammed Salisu managed to off the line.
The action was end to end by this point with Southampton almost opening the scoring on two occasions but Fabiański came to the rescue of his team by thwarting both Ings and then Walker-Peters.
The former Arsenal and Swansea City man had more work to do when Ings again tested him with a header, following a cross from Nathan Redmond. Although it looked a good opportunity, the Pole managed to gather the ball.
Craig Dawson nearly headed past McCarthy after he was on the end of Aaron Cresswell’s free-kick but unfortunately for the hosts, the former Watford defender’s effort did not bounce kindly enough for him and the chance had gone.
West Ham tried to break the deadlock again when Vladimír Coufal combined to good effect with Michail Antonio. The ball was then played to Pablo Fornals who sent an ambitious effort over the bar. However the Spaniard didn’t give up and put his side in front with half an hour gone. He had the easiest of finishes and beat McCarthy following good play from Bowen.
When that goal went in, the cheer from the 10,000 home fans that were inside the stadium sounded like it would’ve done if the ground was at its full capacity!!!
Just three minutes later, the midfielder was in the right place to double his tally after he collected possession from Coufal. Although Fornals didn’t get the best of connections on the strike, it still found a way past McCarthy.
A cautious start to the game from the Hammers turned into a good end for them as they headed down to the dressing rooms when referee Martin Atkinson blew the half-time whistle.
Moyes saw his side continue from where they had left off before the break with both Tomáš Souček and Jesse Lingard going close but unfortunately, neither attempt troubled McCarthy as the Saints’ defence stood firm.
To be fair to Hasenhüttl’s men, they were still having a good go. They asked questions of Fabiański but he came up with the answers on each occasion when he prevented both Ings and Jan Bednarek from scoring.
The visitors were still plugging away but a combination of Dawson, Angelo Ogbonna, Souček and Cresswell got in the way of their attempts.
With sixty nine minutes gone, Moyes decided to add more threat for Southampton to deal with so he made a change, bringing on Benrahma in place of Antonio.
Soon after, West Ham might have got another goal but neither stand-in skipper Declan Rice or indeed Souček were able to get on the end of Bowen’s set-piece.
Before Benrahma entered the fray, the Saints’ boss introduced Nathan Tella for Minamino. The youngster went close but Fabiański kept him out.
At the other end, Bowen nearly played in Lingard for what would have been his last goal for the club, as his loan spell from Manchester United ended after this match. Unfortunately though, the former Hull City winger was unable to get the ball through.
The visitors continued to go close and had a golden opportunity to halve the deficit but Redmond wasted it, as he only succeeded in finding the side netting.
Shortly after that, Tella thought he had pulled one back but it was ruled out for offside.
Benrahma also missed an opportunity for the home side, as he also hit the side of the net with his shot after Bowen found him in space.
That was Bowen’s last contribution as Moyes made a second change with six minutes of normal time to play, as Mark Noble was introduced.
Two minutes after the West Ham boss had shuffled his pack, they had made sure of a second consecutive win. Fornals worked the ball to Rice, who went for goal and placed his effort past McCarthy to end what had been a pretty easy afternoon’s work.
Three minutes of stoppage time were signalled at the end of the game and just one minute of the allotted period had passed when Rice made way for Issa Diop.
It had been a remarkable season, as the Irons had finished with a staggering twenty five more points than they ended up with at the end of the 2019/20 campaign.
With Moyes looking to strengthen the squad for the next Premier League season, news of transfers both in and out of East London, as well as the new fixture list will be covered by this site as soon as details emerge.