Monday 16 September 2019

Anderson exposes Southampton flaws with clinical display

Southampton 1 West Ham 2

Felipe Anderson celebrates scoring his second goal of the night for West Ham. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Felipe Anderson celebrates scoring his second goal of the night for West Ham. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Ralph Hasenhuttl's Christmas presents will have to come late this year because his Southampton revival will not get much further without him unwrapping a few new players in the January transfer window.

That was the lesson of this dispiriting 2-1 defeat to West Ham United at St Mary's, a game where Saints scrapped their way into the lead before throwing it away just 10 minutes later.

The momentum from beating Arsenal and Huddersfield has dissipated and for all the efforts of the players and support of the fans, Southampton's task looks harder today than it did yesterday.

There is an obvious lack of goals in this team, as Saints failed to take advantage of early pressure, scored a lucky bundle and then struggled to test West Ham in the final minutes.

Then there is a lack of leadership and experience in defence, as they coughed up chances to West Ham and were eventually undone by two incisive strikes from Felipe Anderson.

For West Ham this was another welcome sign of the gap that now exists between them and the relegation-threatened sides.

West Ham's Grady Diangana feels the full force of a tackle from Matt Targett. Photo: Action Images via Reuters
West Ham's Grady Diangana feels the full force of a tackle from Matt Targett. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

They are miles away from the finished article, but they are West Ham, and this is their best moment since they played at Upton Park.

West Ham's first task was to ride out Saints' early pressure, as Nathan Redmond and Danny Ings went close in the first two minutes.

It was a ferocious beginning from Saints but it was only ever going to be a burst.

These players have just been working with Hasenhuttl for three weeks and they cannot deliver a full 90-minute pressing masterclass.

West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski makes a diving save. Photo: Action Images via Reuters
West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski makes a diving save. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

Saints looked less dangerous as the first half went on, their early spark fizzling out.

The game felt deadlocked at half-time, it needed something to break it open.

Saints then went ahead with one of the ugliest, scrappiest goals of the season so far. Too many Saints attackers were played onside by Grady Diangana and while Lukasz Fabianski saved from Redmond and Oriol Romeu, he could not stop Redmond bundling it over the line.

But Southampton looked happy enough to gift their lead away.

West Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna (no.21) scores an own goal whilst under pressure from Nathan Redmond (no.22). Photo: PA
West Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna (no.21) scores an own goal whilst under pressure from Nathan Redmond (no.22). Photo: PA

First Maya Yoshida's headed clearance fell to Anderson, 20 yards out, and he had the time to take a touch, set himself and belt the ball into the bottom corner.

Six minutes later, Anderson showed that same cool class, sweeping the ball high into the net to finish a counter-attack that had started with a Southampton corner.

Issa Diop and Michail Antonio had torn upfield, unchallenged by Saints, who were too busy arguing for a penalty to realise what was happening as play continued. (© Independent News Service)

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. Photo: Action Images via Reuters
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

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