West Ham Away Lost 3 – 1
Djenepo was on compassionate leave and missed the trip to West Ham, leaving Boufal wide on the left and Obafemi leading the attack alongside Long, with Ings on the bench – only those close to the team know whether this was a wise safeguard of a valuable asset or unnecessary caution. Despite Walker-Peters being fit, we had Ward-Prowse at full back and recent performances show why, but this wasn’t JW-P’s greatest day despite two memorable moments. The first was a terrific chase back to block Bowen after taking a Southampton corner down the far end, and the other was an assist on the overlap for Obafemi to sweep in an equalising goal with some skill. In between, though, we had a poor clearance as West Ham applied the press, and Fornals was able to set up Bowen who marked his first Premier League start with a goal; Adams would have looked on with some envy. It was a setback that had been coming, but it was preventable with our centre back pairing managing to lose Bowen at a vital moment, and between Bednarek and Stephens, they didn’t have their greatest day either, maybe missing Ward-Prowse as the game rather passed Smallbone by. The Obafemi equaliser should have been vital for us, and it certainly helped calm things down as we drifted happily enough towards half time. Then Antonio lobbed in a poor cross that McCarthy positioned himself for, only Haller rose above the keeper’s outstretched arms to go on and score: for a Premier League regular, McCarthy doesn’t seem to win us many points with vital saves, and he can’t afford to add basic mistakes to his performances. Saints looked rejuvenated as the game resumed after the break but we couldn’t find anyone to take advantage of some promising positions, tempting Ralph to introduce Ings. No sooner had he done so than the side went further behind, again Fornals providing the ammunition, and now Antonio exposing more gaps at the back. Antonio soon had a chance to lend an embarrassing air to the scoreline, but McCarthy managed to make the save, and perhaps this time Ralph’s usual ploy of then moving to a back three was a defensive one. No more goals at either end as Saints deservedly left with nothing, a short time after much of their support had departed the London Stadium prematurely.