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Saints V West Ham United The Verdict
Wednesday, 30th Dec 2020 09:35

Saints ended their losing streak against the Hammers, in the main they looked comfortable, but there was a worrying lack of clear cut chances and also a tendency to go to sleep and gift the opposition chances.

Danny Ings was back and although Saints lacked nothing in terms of determination, organisation and application in the absence of the self Isolating Ralph Hasenhuttl, in the final third they just couldn't break down the Hammers who had set out their stall to hold what they had and then see if they could nick something at set pieces or on the break.

We dominated with possession having 63% of the ball, but tellingly West Ham equalled us in the shots on goal and on target tally and that in itself tells a story.

It could have been different, Danny Ings scored a superb goal, but it was disallowed by VAR, in fairness no one could have any complaints, Che Adams was a good yard offside in the build up to make it 3 goals in 2 games ruled out for offside.

But chances were sadly too few throughout the game, our build up play was good but too often we failed to capitalise, Theo Walcott made some good runs , but always seemed to lose control of the ball at some point, his pace seemed to be too quick for his ball control, Danny Ings and Che Adams were isolated and Moussa Djenepo struggled to take players on and either have shots or create chances, even when a good chance from a free kick materialised JWP put it over.

So from the point of view of injuries and the manager not being able to be there, this was a good display, but at the other end of the field we kept a clean sheet, but that easily could not have been the case.

At set pieces too often West Ham got a free header in and they could have won the ball when we failed to deal with a ball into the box and it presented Benrahma with a shot from close range that left Alex McCarthy needing to make a great save to make sure that we got a point from a game that we had rarely looked like losing.

It was hard to put your finger on why we lacked inspiration in the final third, perhaps Danny Ings knew he wasn't 100%, certainly he didn't impose himself in the game as he did before his knee injury, but it wasn't for a lack of trying.

It was a game in which we just needed a strike of luck to break down the Hammers steely resistance.

This means that of late our form hasn't been great, 9 points from the last 6 games is the par score we want, but only 2 points from the last 3 games is not good enough, on one hand we have achieved them in adversity, so the plus point is that in the past we would perhaps have lost all 3 games, but our standards are higher now.

But we have to get back to winning ways sooner than later if we are to stay in the top 10 or higher going forward, from that point of view we are still only 3 points behind Leicester in 3rd.

The games will come thick and fast now, by the end of January it will be essentially the start of it in terms of the number of games we have played in previous seasons, we will then be able to judge if we are still in the running for a European place or whether it will be mid table for us, hopefully we have come through a poor run with only 1 defeat, we can build on this and start to march forward again.

Photo: Action Images

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HythePeer added 09:54 - Dec 30
I can't see Adams or Long scoring many goals they either fall over or panic.

SanMarco added 09:59 - Dec 30
I was pleased with a point in the end. Once Wet Spam started to move forward in the second half they looked more likely than us to nick one. We are having a quiet spell, and the next three are tough, but we have to remember that in the big Koeman 6th season we had a mid-season 'slump'. At least we are not losing many.

My only concern was that we didn't look dangerous 'on the break' in the second half. Wet Spam fancied a winner and as they pushed forward I would have hoped we could have exploited that. Armstrong for Djnepo improved that but even then the only good chances I remember towards the end were Wet Spam's. Praise to McCarthy and Romeu who I thought were good.

I lied when I said I had only one concern - opposition freekicks where about ten of their players emerge to have a free header. That needs to be sorted because one will go in soon.

davidargyll added 10:12 - Dec 30
Christ what a boring game.
The Hammers came to St Mary’s to do a job on us and very nearly succeeded in winning, but in any event successfully kept us out and for large parts of the game dominated the midfield thus preventing us from playing our game.
Dull, yes but effective too. OK we had our chances but can anyone honestly say we were the better team regardless of 63% possession, and deserved to win?
What worries me is that it seems teams are starting to work us out and we just do seem not to have a Plan B.
Maybe I shouldn’t gripe because how many teams in the PL have anything like as good a Plan A as us but, all the same, the last two or even three games have shown everyone else there is a relatively easy way of stopping us.
We seem to concentrate moving down the left side and/or through the middle. Then push it around hoping for a through ball. Trouble is when you come up against a Fulham or a West Ham who crowd the midfield, guess what, we cannot get through.
Yes breaking fast and not giving the oppo a chance to regroup is virtually unplayable when it works but it seemed last night we just couldn’t get out as fast as we have done in the past.
Is the pressure of so many games in a short space of time starting to have an effect? On the strength of yesterday I would say definitely yes.
Funnily enough if we do get another COVID 19 enforced break - which I think is only a matter of time and what’s more the right thing for the country - that will give us a chance to recover.

theralpholution added 10:19 - Dec 30
Disappointing result but West Ham spécialisé in this type of anti-football, packing their half with players and making it very difficult to score. Great to see Stephens step up again and show why he is excellent cover at centre half. He and Bednarek coped well against a team who have scored many goals from set pieces and can bully teams. Stephens in particular stood out with some excellent long passes. The hard work in training has meant we have one of the best defensive records in the league and show that rushing out to get a loan signing for a few games is a ridiculous knee jerk reaction.

ElijahK added 11:51 - Dec 30
I mean I know Hastenhurtle wasn’t her today, but yet again we’re just not changing our tactics and such until it’s too late! I mean yesterday was the tactics fault as in the end we’re now crossing the ball in which isn’t working, and spend 99% of our possession just passing it around at the back and not risking anything so giving it away in midfield! Whilst if we took more risks and went down the centre we might actually score, and if we don’t we give the ball away in their half, not the halfway line! I mean we all know that Adams and Ings can score, but when we’re just doing the same thing over and over again and not changing anything up after we’ve realised that it’s not working then it can be soo frustrating to watch! I mean we’ve got Liverpool next and at least they’ll be coming at us a bit more and will certainly not be parking the buss like West Ham and Fulham both did, but I really think that when Hastenhurtle sees that things aren’t working, that he changes them much earlier and not when we’re just about to go into injury time!

Colburn added 12:02 - Dec 30
I agree David that it does not seem like we have a plan B and have become rather predictable and cautious. We also look a little tired, perhaps because of the lack of faith in our squad meaning we have not rotated as most teams have. We probably will have another enforced break but it is NOT what the country needs unless you think you can select your victims.. The suicide levels have increased disturbingly and according to the ONS, the virus has taken 339 lives with no preexisting conditions. I'm sure more lockdown is OK if you're wealthy and not going to lose your job, business or home.. What about these people and those taking their own lives..? Don't you care about them? Stop encouraging this evil David..

ElijahK added 12:02 - Dec 30
I mean it obviously doesn’t help when you get VAR messing up yet again with that West Ham player kicking Adams full throttle in the head (which was a clear red!) and not even flipping reviewing it! I mean I do wonder of how they’re going to keep VAR with the fact that it gets more decisions wrong that it does right!

SaintPaulVW added 12:18 - Dec 30
This is a fair review. I'm not panicking as we have picked points up while not playing well. Rather than steadily accumulating points we seem to go on points binges and then switch off for a few games. Hopefully this is one of those fallow periods.

However we do not have a plan B. Indeed, we only really seem to have a plan AA which only functions when we have the right people in peak condition. Whether this will be enough in a league where teams analyse other teams and learn quickly how to neutralise advantages who knows?

Is it just a case of Ings getting back on target and that raises the rest of the team back up again?

We are in a great position and 60%-70% of the team are playing consistently well. Just need that extra improvement to make a real difference to our results. Hopefully it will come soon.

Happy New Year to everyone on TUI.



saintmark1976 added 12:42 - Dec 30
I’m beginning to thank that the whole Corona virus situation is starting to catch up with the players of all clubs. Continually playing to empty stadiums with no atmosphere from fans appears to have started to have reduced the intensity of games. Particularly for teams such as ourselves and West Ham both of which are safely mid table. To me it’s almost as if yesterday’s match was treated like a training session with a certain amount of “ no-after you Claude” creeping in.

LordDZLucan added 12:50 - Dec 30
At last we've got a point against the Hammers! I'm happy with that as they're the sort of team we struggle against. I would have liked to haveseen more first time crosses from the flame though.

Manooman added 14:13 - Dec 30
We must stop playing djenepo. We were a ten Man team yesterday, no one wants to pass to him for fear of him losing the ball.. again.... Stuart Armstrong's appearance made us a lot more threatening. I could count the times Bertrand passed to him on one hand.

LordDZLucan added 14:15 - Dec 30
'flanks' not 'flame'!

SanMarco added 15:17 - Dec 30
I thought you had a new nickname for one of our wing-backs Lord Lucan!

Interested to read Colburn's response to davidargyll. The countries that have done the best locked-down quickly and hard and only eased when the figures were down very low. The British attempt to not offend Colburn or David has not worked very well at all. Now we are in a position where another lockdown will be disastrous and not having another lockdown will be disastrous...

Whatsforpud added 16:00 - Dec 30
Although we have hit a rather dull patch attacking-wise, I agree with theralpholution about the defence. We have conceded just three goals in the last six games. Not much about this in Nick's report. The centre back combination of Bednarek with Vestigarde or Stephens is working well, with the protection of Romeo in front. Big test, though, coming up.

mattlegod added 17:02 - Dec 30
Agree with some comments above about trying to play through the middle and left alot. I like kwp but why does he stop his runs down the right in favour of stopping and playing the ball in the middle? If he kept running and got more crosses in we would have had more half chances of not real chances and would have kept the pressure on the hammers.

wibbersda added 17:06 - Dec 30
It was the same against Arsenal and Fulham. We pen them in 'til they are so dense that we cannot break through it. If this is to become a theme then we need to whip the ball in the box more often and a lot quicker than we have in the last 4 games.

halftimeorange added 17:07 - Dec 30
The fact is we don't really have a regular playmaker when Vestergaard is not on the pitch and Armsrong and Ings are jaded. Most of our cutting edge comes from their creativity. As I've noted before, it could be that our pressing style of play is having an effect on the players. In this game Che Adams look completely washed out. Also, Walcott and Walker-Peters constantly ran down blind alleys as there was no-one to pass to. Something which was apparent yesterday was the West Ham charges when they had a corner or free kick, often being closer to the goal when the ball arrived than our defence. We are not currently playing as well as we were up to the Man City game.

redwight added 18:29 - Dec 30
Not for the first time, Jermaine Jenas has got us worked out, commenting that we are always fast out of the blocks and threaten to blow teams away, but if we don't capitalise, teams that survive the storm come back strongly. He also said that we always seem to want to score the perfect goal, and he has a point. He did, however, say that he thought we would come again and qualifying for Europe was quite likely. This may appear to be using the views of another to save any original thinking on my own part - it isn't. I just think he is correct in what he says.
It was good to get Romeu back. IMO he was MOM in a game we didn't deserve to win.

Jesus_02 added 21:40 - Dec 30
not sure why we seem to lack adventure at the moment.

NewburySaint added 22:01 - Dec 30
I think the last 2 games has proven the amazing turnaround of Vestergaard’s career with us.

I wanted to comment similarly after Fulham, but held my opinion to see how it went against WHam, but in these 2 games we seemed to play slower, deeper and more conservatively and I think that has an awful lot to do with JV’s absence.

This isn’t a slight against Stephens but I think with JV in the team we can play slightly higher & in the faces of the opposition more & slightly quicker because the team have so much more trust in him defensively. And then he can help us get moving quicker going forward with his short and long pings, not to mention a threat at set pieces as well, all of which improve us as a team. I never thought I would be saying such positive things about JV but credit where credit’s due!

1 + from last night was Ings in that he looked a lot more match fit than at any time since he came back from his recent knee op.

AmericanSaint added 22:49 - Dec 30
I would agree with everyone who says that we looked "leggy" and a bit tired. I think this shows how thin we are. Che worked hard but was definitely exhausted when he came out. I think not having RH on the sidelines hurt us a bit as he is always yelling and encouraging the players. Djenepo looked off and didnt track back as well as he has in the past few games. KWP is my big question as during our 7 game run, he was bombing down the right and crossing. Yesterday he had 2 shots and I think 1 cross. I counted at least 6 times he stopped the flow forward to pass it back around midfield. I was yelling at the tv. I think the one bright spot was Theo. He ran his socks off and made great runs into the channels and NOBODY passed him the through-ball. It was annoying to watch. I think that was why you saw him take a few long shots instead of moving to the box. Finally, if we all take a look around, all the top teams are drawing games you would expect them to win, so we just need to find our groove back and we will be back in the mix of it all. From 1st to 9th is only 7 points so a lot of things as to be played for. Let's see how we play against Liverpool and then we may have a much better idea of where we stand. COYR.

zonehead added 07:08 - Dec 31
Although we haven’t conceded from a free kick yet, Saints defending worries me with the straight line up rushing out leaving 2 or 3 players in supposedly offside positions? I never know if they are offside because of the new rule of the linesman not waiving until the ball is dead or in the worst case which hasn’t happened yet,in the net!

sidsaint added 10:14 - Dec 31
I know Che looked legless but I think we should cut him a bit of slack because the kick he took which was not even carded or deemed an HIA by the referee was an unbelievable decision. We have a bit of a break now before Liverpool which may help us to recharge our batteries. Liverpool have not looked good in their last 2 games against West Brom and Newcastle, and seem to have lost their scoring touch. Let's hope they don't recover by Monday as a good performance at Anfield would do a lot for our confidence. Happy new year everybody and lets hope we maintain our top half position.

Whatsforpud added 15:12 - Dec 31
Sidsaint, we are home to Liverpool.

GeordieSaint added 16:42 - Dec 31
Thought the lads have looked knackered for the past couple of games against teams that were fundamentally happy to play for a draw. That pattern has been the case for lots of teams. Hopefully Ralph can rotate the team against Shrewsbury to give a lot of the regulars a break and come back strong for the second half of the season.

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