West Ham Away Lost 1 – 0
Not everyone returned from international duty in one piece so Saints were without Adams and Salisu at West Ham; of those forced off in the last match, Bednarek made it despite cracked ribs, but Bella-Katchup did not, leaving Ćaleta-Car as the other centre back left standing. Statistically, Ć-C is our best defender as we let in fewer goals when he’s playing than when he isn’t, but it was his foul on Bowen that led to the decisive moment in this critical looking game. That transgression was way back near the halfway line, so no real danger, but the Hammers confused our back line by posting players in clearly offside possessions, allowing Aguerd to run in from deeper and head home. It also confused the officials, with the on-field assistant raising his flag, and then his VAR colleague taking nearly four minutes to over-rule him. I share Bednarek’s frustration about having being distracted by illegally placed opponents, but the rules are there to be stretched sometimes, and West Ham were cleverer than Saints. Almost immediately Perraud drew a save from Fabiański, but Saints weren’t asking many questions at the sharp end and might have turned around further behind had Bowen’s shot against the bar been a little lower. As befits Ralph’s assistant, Rubén Sellés seems more cautious than brave by nature, and a truly brave coach would have made changes at the break. However Southampton’s first subs did appear a bit before the regular 60 minute mark, with Sulemana and Alcaraz on for the ineffective Mara and the enigmatic Elyounoussi; for many, the enigma about Elyounoussi is why successive bosses pick him every week, but, contrary to the evidence provided by results (and, in the case of the Welsh Wizard, by bizarre post-match interviews), these guys aren’t complete idiots and they must be seeing something positive. Anyway, the 54th minute moves off the bench didn’t change the complexion of the game which continued with the home team on top, but Onuachu came on to provide a rare moment of hope when he headed Ward-Prowse’s cross on to the bar. We really, really needed that one to go in, but instead all we got was yet another disappointment against fellow strugglers immediately following a battling performance against so-called big hitters of the PL.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
2. Kyle Walker-Peters. There’s a very good player in there just waiting to really break out.
15. Romain Perraud, but maybe only making up the numbers in the top three!?
45. Romeo Lavia. He’s in the frame every match because this squad isn’t going to produce three performances better than his very often.