Jan Bednarek pushes Southampton past David Moyes’ free-fall West Ham | premier league
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West Ham’s challenge for a place in the top four is in danger of collapsing. After defying expectations for so long, David Moyes’ team can hardly do anything right yet. They have become too easy to face and their need for defensive reinforcements to arrive in January could hardly have been more glaring in this shoddy loss to Southampton, who ruthlessly exposed their weaknesses without Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna holding it all together. the back.
These injuries to Zouma and Ogbonna took a heavy toll. The harsh reality is that a central defensive duo of Issa Diop and Craig Dawson won’t be enough for West Ham to qualify for the Champions League. The team’s balance disappeared and although Moyes’ side found themselves at second-half level twice here, they couldn’t complain when Jan Bednarek led Southampton in the lead for the third and last time with 20 minutes to play.
There was no way back once Bednarek made it 3-2. Southampton, who had only won once on the road, held on despite late pressure and deservedly earned nine points over the last three.
West Ham, who have won one of their last seven league games, were in tatters and misshapen from start to finish. The chaos of the trip meant the crowds were well below capacity and the mood in the stands was not helped by inertia on the pitch. West Ham were sluggish throughout the early stages and Southampton was quick to take advantage, pushing the hosts into errors before taking a deserved lead when Mohamed Elyounoussi fired a beautiful shot at Lukasz Fabianski from 20 yards.
No one was surprised when Southampton took the lead after eight minutes of total domination. Their control of the midfield was essential. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s decision to abandon his usual 4-2-2-2 system for a 4-3-3 left Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek chasing shadows in the middle and although Southampton’s opening game was far too easy From Moyes’ perspective, there was a lot to admire about the way Elyounoussi moved down the middle before exchanging passes with Kyle Walker-Peters and drilling a low, hard effort into the lower left corner .
West Ham have retreated further into their shell after falling behind Elyounoussi’s first league goal since August. There was no vanguard, with Michail Antonio only being ready for a place on the bench after returning from a period of isolation. Jarrod Bowen struggled to assert himself against fast and strong Southampton center-back Mohammed Salisu, and there was little evidence of an understanding between the creative West Ham players, with Nikola Vlasic, Said Benrahma and Pablo Fornals all ineffective in the last third.
It was too predictable from West Ham, who were fortunate enough not to lose two goals when Elyounoussi shot directly at Fabianski. They appeared to be relying on barely threatened set pieces before the break, other than when a Bednarek error allowed Vlasic to test Fraser Forster.
Moyes had seen enough. Antonio and Manuel Lanzini replaced Fornals and Vlasic at halftime and the improvement at West Ham was instantaneous. Lanzini began to play a game and the equalizer soon arrived. Bowen took a corner from the right, Dawson rose above James Ward-Prowse at the far post and Antonio nodded past Forster at close range.
Suddenly, with Bowen on the right and Antonio up front, West Ham was more like themselves. They almost led when Rice, who will miss Tuesday’s game at Watford after notching his fifth booking of the season, swept a shot from 25 yards.
Southampton was not deterred, however. They knew West Ham hadn’t been so strong at the back after losing Aaron Cresswell, Ogbonna and Zouma. The visitors had identified Arthur Masuaku as a weak link at the left-back and they came back to the front when Diop was returned by the impressive Armando Broja, a deceptively powerful runner who appeared to have a strong case for a penalty after being stumbled upon Dawson’s awkward challenge. as he passed to the goal.
For a brief moment it looked like Dawson had gotten away with it, but Kevin Friend had no doubts after being sent to the field monitor for a second look. Dawson was all over Broja, who was a nuisance throughout, and Ward-Prowse beat Fabianski on the spot to put Southampton back in the lead.
Now it was a real competition. West Ham equalized again when Soucek launched a smooth counterattack in the 64th minute. Bowen burst in on the right and his cross found Benrahma, who provided his only useful contribution of the afternoon passing Forster on the fly.
Unfortunately for Moyes, West Ham was still too open at the back. Southampton kept pushing and there was no way West Ham could turn back as Ward-Prowse’s free kick from the left was watched by Bednarek.
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