West Ham United Away Lost 3 – 0
Rumours that Yoshida missed the Bournemouth match because he’d gone home to become the new Emperor of Japan proved to be unfounded but he was still unavailable for the trip to West Ham, and we won’t be seeing Vestergaard again this season. Thus numbers led Ralph towards a back four but other changes were less expected: I can’t find much support for my view that Forster is the best of our goalkeepers while everyone seems to have made up their minds about Elyounoussi, so these players may well have been selected for shop window value rather than given an opportunity to impress. Despite the unseasonably cold weather, both teams looked ready for the beach before Valery obliged the home team with a misplaced pass more associated with Stephens, and Noble made the most of his good fortune by threading a forward pass to Arnautović who made no mistake. The one thing the coach did learn from this match is not to drop Redmond and when our most effective forward appeared after the break, things began to improve – we even managed a shot on target with Redmond’s shot touched over by Fabianski, but the best opportunity of the entire game fell to Long who dithered over this shot, allowing Fredericks to clear. Southampton’s next tactical change was to replace Armstrong with Ward-Prowse, another player who would normally be an automatic choice. JWP’s contribution was as influential as Redmond’s, but not in a good way as a slip allowed Masuaku to get to the bye-line, and then things went horribly wrong as Forster’s clearance bounced up in the air off Arnautović and the same player was the only one on hand to head an easy goal. The game was up completely a couple of minutes later when some woefully ineffective tackling allowed full back Fredericks to shoot home. The same scoreline last season may well have forced Mark Hughes into changes that eventually saw us over the line, whereas this year’s lesson is that you can’t take liberties with team selection in the Premier League.
LSSC Man of the Match: Ryan Bertrand, with no other serious contender.