Hammers Knock Down Saints
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 01 Mar 2020 14:13:00
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West Ham United have spent most of February in the relegation zone but on Saturday afternoon, they hauled themselves out of it when they picked up a first win since New Year's Day. In so doing, they also achieved their only double of the season to date by beating Southampton 3-1 on Saturday afternoon to grab three crucial points in Stratford.

David Moyes made three changes to the side that turned in a good performance but ultimately came away with nothing from Anfield last Monday by giving Jarrod Bowen his first start for the club since his deadline day move from Hull City. There were also starts for Pablo Fornals and Sébastien Haller, meaning the Scotsman went with two upfront as Michail Antonio partnered the Frenchman.

Felipe Anderson and Robert Snodgrass dropped to the bench, while Tomáš Souček missed out through injury.

Jeremy Ngakia retained his place in the side, while Declan Rice made his 100th first-team appearance for the club.

Soon after the action got underway, there was a scare for the visitors when Stuart Armstrong suffered an injury but after lengthy treatment, he was able to continue.

Knowing that they really needed a result from this encounter, the home side started dictating matters and had their first opportunity after only eight minutes. Antonio and Fornals combined, Haller was lurking at the far post but unfortunately, Ryan Bertrand was in the right place to block the Spaniard's cross.

Bertrand was in the way again five minutes later when he thwarted Bowen.

Bowen had a prolific record in the Sky Bet Championship for the Tigers and five minutes after going close with his first opportunity, he was celebrating a first goal for his new club. Fornals played him in after the midfielder was gifted the ball, thanks to a defensive lapse from Ralph Hasenhüttl's men.

Haller had left the ball to allow Bowen to set himself before giving Saints' goalkeeper Alex McCarthy no chance.

The change of formation was working well, just as it had done in the reverse fixture back in December. It was to pay off again when Antonio raced down the left wing and past defender Jack Stephens to cross for Haller.

The club's record signing possibly would've had more time to control the ball had James Ward-Prowse not got his head in the way. That was why Haller only had moments to react meaning he unfortunately hit his effort straight at McCarthy.

That miss proved costly as just minutes later, the visitors were back level when Michael Obafemi's forceful shot looped over Łukasz Fabiański in the home side's goal.

At this point, there was nothing to separate the two sides but with five minutes of normal time to play before the break, the Hammers once again asserted their authority and Haller, who had scored the winner at St Mary's struck against the Saints once more. He outjumped McCarthy to meet Antonio's cross and beat the goalkeeper from a tight angle to get the home fans cheering again.

At half-time in their last home game against Brighton and Hove Albion on 1 February, the Irons held a two-goal advantage which they subsequently failed to hold onto. With their team in a similar position here, the home faithful were hoping that the same wasn't going to happen this time around.

The hosts had continued from where they had left off in the first fourty five minutes and fortunately just nine minutes in, they went further in front. Having played so well on the South Coast in December, the front pairing terrorised the Saints again when Haller found Fornals who in turn set up Antonio to finish past a helpless McCarthy.

Hasenhüttl's men could have had a second but fortunately for the hosts, Bowen produced a vital interception, just as Bertrand was about to shoot on goal.

West Ham have won their last four encounters against the Saints and were keen to make the scoreline more comfortable here. They went close once again, as the "deadly duo" combined to great effect once more. The Frenchman's clever trickery played in Antonio but the former Southampton loanee was unable to get the better of McCarthy for a second time, as the goalkeeper deflected his effort away with his legs.

Moyes decided that a change was necessary on seventy seven minutes, as Bowen's debut was brought to an early end and Snodgrass replaced him.

Angelo Ogbonna and Fornals tried to add their names to the scoresheet but weren't able to do so, as the Hammers were showing that they weren't satisfied with just the three goals.

The defence has been criticised recently for the manner in which they have conceded easy goals but to be fair to the backline in this game, they were resolute for large periods. This was emphasised further by Ogbonna when the visitors were trying all they could to find a way back into the game.

Moyes made a second change as the game went into three minutes of stoppage time, with Anderson taking the place of Fornals.

When referee Anthony Taylor blew the final whistle, Moyes was able to celebrate only his second win since returning to East London in December.

The Hammers ended February by collecting only their fourth home success of the campaign. Now, Moyes will want to see his side follow it up by claiming their first away triumph of 2020. To do that, they will have to start March by overcoming the challenge of Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

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