Sunday, 25th September 2016
Well moving home was never going to be easy but Iíd kinda hoped it might be better than this. Going to football when youíre ill is largely an act of faith. You drag your aching bones across town in the hope that a win will give you some sort of morale boost which, when added to the max strength cold & flu relief capsules and, perhaps, a medicinal brandy will make you feel slightly less lousy than you did at the start of the day. When it comes off you feel great. When it doesnít you feel twice as bad as you did before the off.
Team news was that it appears Iím now only one injury away from playing left back, what with Arthur doing his knee in. All the usuals were absent which left us with a starting XI of Adrian, Abaleiro, Nordveidt, Reid, Ogbonna, Noble Kouyate, Antonio, Payet, Lanzini and Zaza.
Well for the first half hour or so we looked the better of two average teams. A couple of minutes in Zaza got on the end of a nice ball from Ogbonna but his shot was a bit tame. On 8 minutes Lanzini was felled by a rotten challenge by Romeu. The little Ďun had lost his man with a nice bit of skill on the touchline only to be brought down with a crude hack that had the sole intention of stopping the player in his tracks. The challenge deserved a yellow and got one, somewhat surprisingly in the context of what was to follow.
Antonio was next to have a pop, a nice combination with Zaza on the edge of the box being followed up with an optimistic little poke with the outside of the foot which, even had it been on target, wouldnít have defeated Forster at his near post.
Arbeloa then got into good position to force a corner but, as was the case throughout the game we didnít seem to be able to get on the end of the corner. Zaza then got in the middle of a sandwich from a couple of defenders in a challenge that no doubt Moss would have had no hesitation in giving outside the box. Indeed he had just given a free-kick against Nordveidt for a challenge on the ever-unsteady Tadic only a few minutes earlier. I suppose itís naÔve of me to expect honesty from match officials at m time of life but I live in hope.
Redmond then tripped Noble. The foul was cynical enough, the display of dissent certainly merited a yellow under the current climate but it seems that they are onlu used to cover up incorrect decisions so Redmond escaped sanction.
Romeu should then have walked. His cynical tug back on Zaza who had got the better of him was acknowledged by Moss and would no doubt have got a yellow had the player not already had one. However it seems that Moss didnít fancy dismissing a visiting player so another stiff word was all he got. Payetís free-kick caused only mild panic before being cleared.
Redmond committed his third yellow card offence of the day, pulling back Noble, but despite the previous long lecture from Moss he still went unpunished. The closest either side came to a goal in this spell came on 35 minutes. Kouyate forced a corner on the right. Zaza got something on it and Antonio came in just too late to put the ball away.
So with an opposition contributing nothing of attacking note you can guess what happened next. Tadic and Bertrand combined on their left. Antonio didnít track back and Austin mis-hit the pull-back past Adrian. When your luckís out as they say.
The thing about going one nil down is how you deal with it. And such is the lack of confidence in the side we just went to pieces. Redmond forced a save out of Adrian and whereas we had been trying to take the game to the opponents we were now the ones on the back foot and had Cedric not been too greedy to pull the ball back across goal we could have gone further behind. In the end we slept through one added minute before the interval.
HT West Ham United 0 Southampton 1
After the interval it transpired that Romeuís thuggery on Lanzini had taken its toll and the little Ďun was unable to take any further part. Unlike Romeu who had taken full advantage of the suspension of the two yellows = one red rule. Feghouli came on as replacement.
Moss continued to make it up as he went along. A perfectly fair challenge from Antonio that won the ball cleanly without getting anywhere near a player suddenly became a free kick. Strangely thirty seconds later the same player was kicked up in the air by Romeu without so much as a free kick being awarded.
5 minutes into the second half Adrian pulled off a fine save as we sat back again. It was a save that could have marked a turning point had we learned the lesson. We didnít. Moss nailed his colours fully to the Southampton mast by booking Noble for a nothing challenge. It was a dreadful decision and given the continued presence of Redmond and Romeu on the pitch it was an insult to the intelligence. It was also to have further consequences later on.
Fonteís taking out of Payet was infinitely worse than anything Noble had done but having lost out to the advantage law the same player then went through the back of Antonio. A free kick was forthcoming but strangely no yellow. Zaza got clipped in the ensuing corner but made too much of it presumably on the grounds that the ref wasnít going to give anything our way without some sort of hint. Zaza then got booked for dissent as part of the general cover up.
Just on the hour we went two down. It all started when Noble, clearly terrified of getting a second yellow from a useless ref, pulled out of a challenge that beforehand he would have won easily. Reid and Kouyate both had chances to get rid but messes=d about with it too long and Tadic waltzed through past a stranded Adrian.
It was more awful stuff after that. Van Dijk must be wondering what he had done to get a deserved yellow for a late one on Feghouli given what his team-mates had been allowed to do up to that point.
Fletcher replaced Nordveidt for the last 20, the switch moving Antonio to the right. Payet then manoeuvred himself into space for a shot, the block falling for Feghouli whose shot was goalbound but well saved by Bertrand. The more observant of you will note that Bertrand isnít a goalkeeper. Not Moss who, just to add to the general cover up booked Arbeloa for dissent. Funny how it doesnít seem to have occurred to the authorities that dissent might just be a result of the ever decreasing standards of refereeing in this country.
We huffed and puffed a bit Zaza had one kicked off the line via a touch from Fletcher but we were always going to be susceptible to the sucker punch on the break. Reid picked up a yellow for a millisecond late challenge while Redmond and Romeu remained on the pitch.
With 8 left Fernandes replaced the skipper but weíd long since given up. Ward-Prowse was given the freedom of the box to pull off a save out of Adrian who then made another save from Hojbjerg that Moss was too stupid to spot. There was still time for Moss to add to his list of errors. Payet was blocked off the ball. Predictably Moss ignored the foul and punished Payet for the dissent instead. It was a bit like punishing someone who gets run over by a drunk driver on a zebra crossing for jay walking.
Ward-Prowse was given a tap-in at the end to send the visiting supporters home thinking they are world beaters which they arenít and a wholly satisfactory afternoon came to an end, predictably when we had a corner.
Full Time West Ham United 0 Southampton 3
Ok teething problems were to be expected Ė I think even Southampton took 6 games to notch their first win at their new place a few years back. However, ignoring all that we need to sort things out elsewhere. The mental state of the team is appalling. That was a game we were looking ok in but as soon as we went behind that was it. Heads down. And when your skipper bottles a tackle you know there is something wrong.
We have a lot of injuries at the moment and, unlike last season, when the new boys hit the ground running, those signed in the window havenít shown much as yet. Another three points before the break would give us the breathing space to get the first XI up and running but t do that we need to get the fear out of the playersí minds.
And just to make it worse when I got home I realised I had no medicinal brandy to ease my cold.
Sort it out Slav.
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Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
A few decent saves kept the score down when everyone in front of him had gone missings.
A central midfielder out of position. And it showed.
Played on the left and showed a couple of good touches.
Went missing at some crucial moments.
Nowhere near the form that saw him capped by Italy in the Euros.
Heís probably feeling this as much as we are. Clearly things are getting into his head as evidenced by the lacklustre tackle that ultimately led to the killer second.
Another who is out of sorts and itís difficult to pinpoint why.
Occasionally dangerous but gave his full back little help defensively. Hereís an idea. Play him up front maybe?
Drifted in and out of the game. Often fouled and his frustration earned him the booking.
Wasnít quite the same after being kicked out of the game. Like Payet needs to impose himself on the game more.
Battled gamely first half. Disappeared in the second.
(Replaced Lanzini) Some fleeting good moments but they were just too fleeting.
(Replaced Nordtveit) It was a bit of a lost cause for the youngster really.
(Replaced Noble) Like Fletcher he was on a hiding to nothing really.
Referee: Jonathan Moss.
Man of the Match: Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo.
West Ham United
Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo, Havard Nordtveit, Alvaro Arbeloa, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna, Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate, Michail Antonio, Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini, Simone Zaza.
Booked: Mark Noble 59 Simone Zaza 59 Alvaro Arbeloa 72 Winston Reid 81 Dimitri Payet 89 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Forster, Cedric, Van Dijk, Fonte, Bertrand, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Davis, Tadic, Redmond, Austin .
Substitutes: Long (Austin 74), Ward-Prowse (Tadic 80), Martina ( Cedric 88).
Subs not used: McCarthy, Yoshida, Clasie, Hesketh.
Goals: Austin (40), Tadic (62), Ward-Prowse (90+2).
Booked: Romeu, Van Dijk.
Sent Off: None sent off..