West Ham United 1-3 Saints
Long made his full Premier League Saints debut at West Ham, while Wanyama has either picked up an injury or now finds himself far enough down the pecking order to be outside the starting line-up. We moved up the Match of the Day scheduling thanks to a positive result in this game, but the programme’s first 45 minute highlights featured just its two goals. First was Noble’s effort to put the Irons ahead thanks to Fonte being caught in possession and then assisted by a deflection off Yoshida which not only took the ball further away from Forster, but also gave a nasty bounce just in front of him. It was cancelled out in the 44th minute when a free kick dropped nicely for Schneiderlin who found the net with his second effort after a block.
TV omitted a close call for Saints with the score 0-0 (Forster saved with his foot), but they did show an added-time clearance by Yoshida that looked suspiciously like hand ball in the area, but was missed by the entire ground at the time.
There were promising moments for both sides as the second period got underway, but Saints soon assumed control and would have gone ahead from a set piece headed home by Pelle had he not been one of a host of players caught offside. Ramirez replaced the disappointing Long and briefly gave one of his best performances in a Saints shirt (maybe his last?) but his most telling contribution was to be involved in a decision that led to the crucial second goal – tucked in by Schneiderlin at the near post in front of a defence that had lost concentration because they doubted whether a corner should have been given (possibly true, but a win at West Ham is never complete without Big Sam having something to moan about). A third goal sealed the victory, smacked in by Pelle after Adrian could only parry Clyne’s low cross.
It was some consolation for the striker, having been carded for an altercation with Adrian in which he seemed to do little wrong – a bit like the team in a dominant second half.
LSSC Man of the Match: Morgan Schneiderlin for an unprecedented two goal return. In fact it should have been three, and his total commitment to the club shown by his post-match interview left a bit to be desired. Never mind, he’s still here – unlike Taïdir, released for “having failed to live up to the high levels of commitment expected of Southampton players.”