Saints held by the Hammers

By SFC Media time Tue 29 Dec Saints v West Ham United
Photo by Matt Watson | Kyle Walker-Peters
Tue 29 Dec 6PM
Premier League
West Ham United
Bertrand (40') Djenepo (72') Walker-Peters (76')
yellow card
Yarmolenko (67')
Referee: Andy Madley | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 0

Southampton were held to a third draw in four games, as they signed off 2020 with a 0-0 stalemate at home to West Ham.

In a game of few chances, the hosts had the better of the play, but they were unable to find a way through against an opponent that proved a stubborn obstacle under the St Mary’s lights.

Saints went into the fixture looking to end a run of three matches without a win, after draws with Arsenal and Fulham either side of a narrow loss to Manchester City. But they suffered a notable loss ahead of the game, with manager Ralph Hasenhüttl absent from the dugout after a member of his household tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday.

Hasenhüttl continued to manage proceedings from home, though, watching via a feed and remaining in constant contact with his coaches on the bench through an audio link, with Richard Kitzbichler the regular presence in the technical area.

20201229 Southampton v West Ham
Richard Kitzbichler took Ralph Hasenhüttl's place in the technical area (Photo: Matt Watson) 

There were three changes for Saints from the side that drew 0-0 at Fulham on Boxing Day, the most notable of which was Danny Ings being restored to the line-up having missed out at Craven Cottage with a hamstring injury.

Oriol Romeu also returned from a one-match ban, while Moussa Djenepo was brought into the team, with Shane Long, Stuart Armstrong and Ibrahima Diallo all dropping to the bench.

Following a 2-2 draw with Brighton on Sunday, West Ham boss David Moyes had one less day to prepare for the game, so it was perhaps little surprise that he made five changes, as Fabian Balbuena, Vladimir Coufal, Ben Johnson, Jarrod Bowen and captain Mark Noble all dropped out of the line-up, with Andriy Yarmolenko, Manuel Lanzini, Craig Dawson, Pablo Fornals and Ryan Fredericks coming in.

It was certainly Saints who appeared to start the game with the greater energy, and they had the ball in the net as early as the sixth minute, only to see it ruled out for offside. James Ward-Prowse started the move, playing a pass in behind for Ché Adams, who in turn delivered a ball that found Ings on the edge of the box. The striker took a clever touch that put him clean through, before he finished back across goal, but the flag then went up against Adams in the build-up, with VAR confirming the decision as correct.

Theo Walcott then dragged a low shot wide from 20 yards in the tenth minute, before Adams missed a good opportunity to slip Walcott in on 19 minutes, over-hitting his pass after Ward-Prowse had intercepted the ball on halfway and found him just outside the box.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: Theo Walcott of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton and West Ham United at St Mary's Stadium on December 29, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Theo Walcott in action against West Ham (Photo: Matt Watson)

It was all largely positive from the hosts, though, as the game reached the midway point of the first half.

Yet West Ham were proving a stubborn opponent, and further opportunities were hard to come by for a spell after that point, albeit Saints’ control of the ball meant there was still little in the way of threat towards their own goal.

Ryan Bertrand did have a sight on 37 minutes, as the ball was laid back to him 25 yards out following a corner that had been partially cleared, but he got his strike wrong and sent the ball slicing high and well wide.

Shortly after, Bertrand was in the thick of it again, this time being booked after bringing down Yarmolenko at the other end, as referee Andy Madley produced the first card of the night.

West Ham’s first effort finally arrived four minutes before half-time, as a Yarmolenko cross was nodded back into the air by Fornals, with the ball dropping for Fredericks on the corner of thee six-yard box, but his own header was short of power and straight at Alex McCarthy.

Back at the other end, the Hammers were living dangerously when Dawson fouled Adams just outside the area in the 44th minute, but Ward-Prowse got a little too much elevation on his free-kick and sent it a couple of yards over.

20201229 Southampton v West Ham
James Ward-Prowse curls a free-kick over late in the first half (Photo: Chris Moorhouse)

The last action of the half saw Lanzini pounce on Ward-Prowse mis-controlling a cross into the area, but his shot on the turn went over in what was a rare sight of goal for West Ham.

Not too much time had passed in the second half when Hasenhüttl sent instructions for the first change of the night, as Long replaced Adams on 58 minutes, moments after Romeu had fired over from the edge of the area after being picked out by a Walcott cutback.

Moyes responded by sending on Saïd Benrahma in place of Lanzini, as he perhaps looked to spark a bit of attacking momentum.

It was still Saints, though, who looked the likelier of the two sides to break the deadlock, Walcott testing Lukasz Fabianski with a low drive from distance that he did well to hold with Ings closing in to pounce on any mis-handle.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: Kyle Walker-Peters of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton and West Ham United at St Mary's Stadium on December 29, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Kyle Walker-Peters gets on the ball (Photo: Matt Watson)

On 71 minutes, Kyle Walker-Peters was quickest to react to a loose ball in the area, but his left-footed strike across goal was relatively straightforward for Fabianski to get down and save. The Southampton full-back was also booked shortly after for a foul on Sébastian Haller.

West Ham’s second change followed, as Bowen replaced Yarmolenko, before former Saint Michail Antonio was sent on for Haller. For Saints, there was also a change, as Armstrong came on for Djenepo for the final 15 minutes.

There was a big scare for Saints five minutes from time, as perhaps the best chance of the entire night fell to Benrahma, who muscled his way onto a ball into the area that hadn't been properly cleared, but McCarthy was able to make a fine save at close range to keep the game goalless.

And that was how it ended too, as neither side could find a way through during the final minutes.


Head to Head Stats

West Ham United
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Alex McCarthy (GK)
Kyle Walker-Peters yellow card
Jack Stephens
Jan Bednarek
Ryan Bertrand yellow card
Theo Walcott
James Ward-Prowse (C)
Moussa Djenepo yellow card
replace Stuart Armstrong (78′)
Oriol Romeu
Danny Ings
Che Adams
replace Shane Long (58′)
Michael Obafemi
Jake Vokins
William Smallbone
Shane Long
Stuart Armstrong
Mohammed Salisu
Yan Valery
Ibrahima Diallo
Fraser Forster

West Ham United

Lukasz Fabianski (GK)
Ryan Fredericks
Aaron Cresswell
Craig Dawson
Angelo Ogbonna
Andriy Yarmolenko yellow card
replace Jarrod Bowen (72′)
Tomas Soucek
Manuel Lanzini
replace Saïd Benrahma (60′)
Pablo Fornals
Declan Rice (C)
Sébastien Haller
replace Michail Antonio (77′)
Robert Snodgrass
Mark Noble
Darren Randolph
Ben Johnson
Issa Diop
Jarrod Bowen
Vladimir Coufal
Saïd Benrahma
Michail Antonio
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