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Southampton At West Ham United The Verdict
Sunday, 26th Dec 2021 17:59

On the previous five occasions that Saints have played the Hammers at the London Stadium it has been a case of the winning side has always scored 3 goals, this see saw game was no different.

There were a few surprises in the Saints team when the line ups were announced, in came Fraser Forster and Jan Bednarek, with Che Adams, Adam & Stuart Armstrong all on the bench, but missing from the squad were Lyanco, Jack Stephens and Nathan Tella none of whom were named amongst the substitutes, in these days easy conclusion to jump to would be that they have gone down with the dreaded Covid.

From the start though Saints looked determined, although we haven't won in the last five games, we have only lost two of them and has some bad luck along the way and the grit and determination shown at Palace last time out was still there for all to see.

Saints early play was rewarded after only 8 minutes when some good work from Kyle Walker Peters found Mohamed Elyounoussi who with little back lift fired home from 25 yards.

It stayed that way till half time, although at times Saints looked a bit dodgy at the back especially at corners where Fraser Forster was struggling to get through the crowds of players, but he always seemed to get something on the ball even though it was not as clean as we would have hoped for the nerves.

We suspected the second half would be a lot more tense than the first and the Hammers made a double substitution and on came Michael Antonio and within 3 minutes he had pulled us level, yet again a failure to win a ball from a corner and with the ball headed back across goal he headed in from close range, VAR took a long look but he was on by centimetre's

This was the cue for Saints to fall apart. but although the pressure piled on they didn't, on the hour mark Armando Broja battled hard to charge through the defence and was brought down in the area, it was another long hard look, but it went our way and James Ward Prowse was clinical from the spot.

But the lead lasted only 3 minutes and Said Benrahama ghosted in to put the Hammers level again.

This was the cue for Saints to fall apart, but although the pressure piled on they didn't and Broja won a free kick 35 yards out on the left and James Ward Prowse put the perfect inswinging ball that defenders and keeper hate, usually our defenders and keeper, but there was Jan Bednarek to head home.

Twenty minutes left on the clock and a long way to go, but we had two good omens to help us, the first was we had scored 3 and the side that scores 3 always wins this fixture at the London Stadium, the second was when Stuart Armstrong entered the fray in the 89th minute, all our previous 3 wins this season in the Premier League have been achieved with the Scotsman in the side and this was to be no different.

This was a win ground out with many things, some good all round play and some good old roll up your sleeves, dig in and battle through tough times.

It wasn't pretty to watch in terms of the fact that we rode our luck at times and the game could have gone anyway, but it was pleasing in that we put out a team that was still missing some key players in the starting line up and we got all three points.

We have a spirit that sees us through games, we are far from being the finished article, there are still a few areas that need addressing, but we have a decent squad that can get better and is improving all the time.

It is also a win that gives us some breathing space and with one game to go before the half way mark we have 20 points and that is a good foundation for the second half of the season.

There have been many who have slammed the fact that we have given away so many points after leading in a game, I'm sure they felt this was going to be another of those games for most of this one, but our spirit carried us through.

The situation with the Chairman is what it is, perhaps in the next week or so there will be a new owner and maybe some funds for transfers, but till then we have to carry on doing what we are doing and keeping our heads above water.

We will have wins like this that are satisfying because we have achieved them against the odds and we will have games when things don't go our way, that is football, but today was a win to savour, I enjoyed it Happy Christmas Everyone !

Photo: Action Images

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WestSussexSaint added 18:37 - Dec 26
A decent performance although we did look a bit shaky at the back at times. Nice that VAR went in our favour for a change. Broja led the line well and with a change in formation to a 4-1-4-1 it allowed the on rushing midfielders to pick up plenty of the knockdowns.

Key now will be how Ralph uses the squad as the next match is only 48hrs away.


Block8 added 19:07 - Dec 26
Pleased to see us with three in midfield!
Nervy game but great three points and don't overlook both Redmond & Walcott defensively!

davidargyll added 19:39 - Dec 26
Only saw the last twenty minutes live, whichI have to say had me on the edge of my seat, and the sum total of which, apart from one or two very careless bits of play, eg KWP, was that we defended like lions and made me proud to be a Saints supporter.
Have only just seen the goals on Sky highlights, but the one ones we scored all looked to me really good.
As far as the Hammers were concerned, their first goal we seemed to be guilty once again of not defending the far post, and their second came from a very lucky through pass which on another day one of our defenders would have booted into touch.
But hey ho, we are now equal on points now with the team in 11th (Brentford) which is great.
Looking froward it would be nice to get something out of the game on Tuesday so let's just hope that Spurs will be a little tired after their very breezy win today.
But if it has to be three points from the two games, I won't mind.

JoeEgg added 20:43 - Dec 26
Wow that was quick Nick - we must have done somethng right!
A fighting performance, perhaps riding our luck, but three oh-so welcome points

As for Ralph's contribution? I cant understand why Stuart Armstrong's appearance was delayed so long and Raljh's game management continues to baffle and confuse. Adamas was another player who should have been on earlier. However I thought the side had a better overall shape and Broja was a revelation and is going to be missed.

With so many teams now getting behind with their games played the League Table is somewhat confusing but these were three points that we desperately needed. So well done to those that started the game and refused to give up.

ElijahK added 22:50 - Dec 26
Decent display off of the lads today (even VAR and Friend were actually decent enough for once!). Other than starting Walcott, I thought Ralph made pretty decent/fair decisions, and did his subs with the right players at roughly the tight times.
Certainly was a great result though, and arguably makes up for the likes of the Norwich one, but hopefully it’ll help us to get back on track, and at the very least challenge spurs on Tuesday (although it’s typical that Kane finally gets inform just before we play them 🙄) and beat the likes of Newcastle next weekend, as like I’ve said all season, we’re not going down, and we’re not making Europe, but where we finish mid table, is down to games/runs like this.

IanRC added 00:21 - Dec 27
Up next the man who cannot be sent off ….. but today was a good battling display. WHU should probably have been down to 10 for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity and their goal did look offside to me but can’t say no to 3 points and at least the officials were not as blatantly biased as they have been in recent games. Broja is going to be very special, would love to sign him permanently but doubt we will have the chance. A second seasons loan would be great though.

AmericanSaint added 00:24 - Dec 27
Well that was a cracker of a game. We NEEDED this for so many reasons. I hope this has given the lads a boost of confidence that they can come back and win games even when things are not going our way. Regarding VAR, I think it got both calls right. It was nervy at the end when we got sloppy with the ball and made some stupid no-look passes into the center of midfield and right to their players. I think FF should get some credit as on every corner he was getting harassed or blocked and he still got a hand to almost everyone. One thing for sure is that our guys ran their socks off until the end. Great game and much needed win. Now to Spurs. COYR

lemmsy added 01:27 - Dec 27
Against palace when it went 2-2 it felt like palace would go on to win , when West Ham equalised (twice) it felt the same so for us to get results out of both games is a definite improvement in those situations.
Thought Fraser played well , particularly his distribution.Broja is obviously a star but I felt salisu was superb again today .
Look forward to a performance against spurs but realistically most would take a point

philboyer added 08:17 - Dec 27
I hope Ralph starts using the 4-1-4-1 formation as standard from now on as it gives us more strength in the midfield . Broja is the key to making it work in attack as he has the power and pace to be a handful for most defences . The only change i’d make to that 11, is to give Theo his subs cushion back and swop Stu Armstrong in now he is fit. Although Bednarek was ball watching for the 2 West Ham goals , so perhaps Lyanco in for him would make sense .
I do worry about Salisu being out for the AfCon , as he is the Rock in our defence . Even more reason to make the 4-1-4-1 formation our go to for the foreseeable future. I’m hopeful against the Spuds but realistic that they have caught fire and stopping Kane and Co will be difficult . A draw would be very good and then a must win against Newcastle would be a strong return from our Xmas period .Need to manage Broja workload carefully , he is becoming invaluable and we don’t need him out injured plus Salisu at AfCon to show up the cracks .

felly1 added 09:23 - Dec 27
Well that result certainly brightened my day yesterday!
It's funny how there's alot less posts on here when we win??
I sat there fully expecting West Ham to go on and bag the result as per the usual but Saints pleasantly suprised me showing real battling spirit to keep going , ride their luck and then take their chances, and now we have 3 valuable points on the board. We look so much better with Salisu and Broja in the team, both are strong , talented footballers who make a real difference.
I still see us a side that will be in the lower half of the table looking over our shoulder but results like this show we've just about got enough with our limited resources to hold our own in the Prem this season.

A1079 added 10:28 - Dec 27
Other than the highlights and live text I did not get to see the game but what a great result. It was such a pleasant surprise especially when Antonio equalised and you assumed there was only going to be one outcome.

I must admit, when I went to Arsenal (and to some extent Liverpool) I had my doubts whether some players really had it in them to want to continue to play for the club or the manager but Palace and yesterday suggests otherwise.

I_Would won't appreciate me saying this but JWP seems to have got his mojo back a bit in the last 2 games and it has made a difference. Broja looks good and I really hope he stays. I hear Salisu played well. The defending for West Ham's second goal was pretty awful and we will need to be alot tighter in defence and midfield against what is currently a very on form Spurs side.

But a great away win and if we get a draw tomorrow it won't be too bad. The what ifs of the Brighton and Norwich games eh!

halftimeorange added 10:29 - Dec 27
I always think points on the board are better than games in hand. Whatever way you look at it, this was a good result. Saints had more of a cutting edge than WHU and, in Broja (whilst we've got him) we have a real leader of the line. Watching this game I thought, not for the first time, what a bad piece of judgement it was not to sign Antonio when we had the chance. Forster was obviously ring rusty but, I didn't feel as uncomfortable with him between the sticks as I have with McCarthy recently. Livramento needs to pass the ball when he's made a break and get back to defending all the time he's designated as a full back!

SanMarco added 11:36 - Dec 27
A great late Christmas present!! We found the alternative way to holding on to 1-0 leads - score two more in the second half.

No Saints supporter on the planet would have been particularly confident after either equalizer but it is wonderful to be wrong!

Harry 'should be suspended' Kane to look forward to on Tuesday but our home form has been pretty solid so a point is a distinct possibility if things go well with the ref and VAR.

PS My understanding is that Salisu is not going to the African cup - only Djenepo.

PPS Belated merry Christmas and a happy new year to Nick and everyone. Mashing the Spuds would do the new year bit for all of us I suspect!!!

highfield49 added 12:44 - Dec 27
I think, in the main, felly1 that the reason for less posts when we win is the pleasure of being able to savour a strong performance rather than the need to vent our disappointment at another frustrating loss of points. Kind of the opposite to "you only sing when you're winning" I suppose. Anyhow, that aside, I'm still basking in the warm glow of taking the points off one of my least favourite teams and musing that the better Broja plays the less likely that we'll have him with us next season. Hopefully some of his adventurous spirit will help Che lift his game to the next level, in fact I thought Adams looked much sharper in the few minutes he played yesterday. Ralph should also now be aware that Forster is significantly better than McCarthy between the posts and maybe just maybe West Brom will agree to let Sam Johnstone move south next month in an exchange deal.
More of the same for the rest of the season lads, taking us safely into mid table By Easter, and it will have been a solid platform to encourage investment from a new owner sooner than later.

beynali73 added 12:45 - Dec 27
This was was an unexpected win but relieved to have 3 points. Not getting carried away as West ham had several first teamers out and our defence still looks suspect too often.

I cannot see us getting anything from spuds but getting 3 points from these Christmas games was beyong my expectation.

There is a long way to go and we are going to be looking over our shoulders until May - just hope there is enough in the tank to win 5 more games and the odd draw between now and the end of the season.

Happy Christmas all - and all the best Nick.

schatfield added 15:30 - Dec 27
good game, but wish he would play Stephens in place of Bednarak, who is making so many errors in defense of late. Stephens and Salisu should be our 1st choice defender pairing.
Ward Prowse playing very well again.

Colburn added 20:23 - Dec 27
The unexpected wins are always the sweetest and I thought we were the better team over the 90. As with other posts, the performances of Salisu and Broja along with the improvement in JWP stood out for me, as did the feeling of greater confidence in Forster who was decent with his distribution and control. The industry of Elyonoussi and his goal showed why it was a good decision to retain him. This win and how we achieved it will do good things for the lads moving forward.
I saw an article about fans still arguing over Ralph. Whatever we feel, the time for baiting isn't after a win and I don't believe there is such a thing as a Ralph out camp, nor the opposite, it's not a religion, its opinions which can change and aren't always a case of being right or wrong. The firing of Adkins wasn't necessary but did not end up being a wrong decision either. I felt a whole ago it was time for a change but now that we have decided to stick with Ralph, it is pointless having the debate any further because he isn't going anywhere. The majority of issues we could all see are showing signs of improvement and the refreshing introduction of Tella and Smallbone recently has created the necessary gauntlet to the other squad members. Perhaps its a good time of year to ignore the baiting and division comments and articles and enjoy the progress of our young squad irrespective of who the manager is. We are improving, fair play to all of them.

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