Pub Talk: was Saints match a pivotal game?

The Blowing Bubbles team settle down to put the world to rights

Was the Southampton game the turning point in our season?

Meirion Williams: Let’s make no mistake this was a big game, a really big game. The performance at Anfield should have been the spur to hopefully turn our season around. It was a well deserved almost comfortable win that should raise morale. The importance was highlighted by the results of those around us. We needed that one!

David Meagher: Vital result and a great performance. Two up top works for us. The addition of pace means we can create chances with less possession. A great confidence booster for Bowen and Haller. Ngakia looks the real deal at right back too. We need three more wins to stay up.

Bradley Holland: If we can keep this line-up and this formation we can stay up. Haller finally has strike partners and he was holding and flicking the ball like we expected. Bowen was what we wanted him to be. If we can get disciplined in defence and Ogbonna maintains that wall we will do well.

What have been your first impressions of Bowen?

MW: It was good to see him finally make the starting line up against Southampton. I felt if he had been on longer at Liverpool, he just may have had a better chance when the one on one with Allison with minutes to go. As for his performance against Southampton, he was consistent throughout and took his goal well and deserved his man of the match award. I may be biased though as he comes from my home county of Herefordshire.

DM: Lively. He is still adjusting to those around him and will link up better as he gets more game time. The goal was a real delight but also he made a crucial defensive intervention just before the hour mark. No lack of enthusiasm and plenty of ability.

BH:  Deadline deal bias aside, Jarrod Bowen is everything we are looking for. He plays a direct, attacking English football with a lot of pace and determination. The runs he has made into open spaces, with perceptions of through balls, including the attempt on goal at Liverpool shows he is the right man to bring structure and form.

What did you make of our performances against Man City and Liverpool?

MW: I was at both and what a contrast! The Citeh game was simply awful. We were set up for the draw and once Citeh went ahead there seemed to be no game plan. To be honest I felt embarrassed to be a West Ham fan that night. But what a contrast a few days later. We really took the game to Liverpool and although we lost, we lost to two goalkeeping errors. I’m not sure what part the crowd had in those two games. At Citeh it was subdued, at Liverpool the look on the players’ faces as they walked out and saw the black balloon protest was a picture but then as the game began we continually out sung the scousers and I’m sure that helped the team. If they, the players, had shown that spirit against Citeh I am sure it would have been a different result.

DM: While we were limp against City, the Anfield performance was a real morale booster. Although we failed to pick up any points, we preserved our goal difference and in reality, there were seven points to lose in those games if we took two hidings. Our performance against Southampton flowed from Monday night’s efforts – lots of energy and playing with less fear.

BH: I never blow my bubbles too high with Liverpool or City. Our matches usually end with three goal deficits so I can only hope in the West Ham Way to get a result. Moyes shouldn’t have parked the bus against City in the hope of lessening a goal difference? But the Liverpool match was majestic and best this season since Bournemouth win.

Are you concerned about Fabianski’s form?

MW: He has proved that he is human and not the God-like genius we all thought he was. I’m not concerned as he has kept us in many games. Let’s hope the mistakes are behind him now and he can continue to shore up a brittle defence.

DM: No. He just needs to get back to full match focus after a sustained absence. He looked confident against Southampton with the few saves he had to make but also with quick distribution which is a real bonus now we have some pace on the break.

BH: Fabianski has made a few howlers but within the same matches has proved to be the Hammer of the Year, safe-handed man we have come to rely on. With some more play he will sharpen.

What did you make of Carlton Cole’s comments about Anderson after our Liverpool game?

MW: Part of me agreed with Carlton, Anderson can be so frustrating one minute and a world beater the next before becoming an insignificant member of the team again. I still think the best is yet to come from Felipe. Injuries have not helped and since Moyes has arrived, we do now see Felipe on occasions tracking back. He needs to justify that big transfer fee and has yet to do so. I want to see him shine in our run in and I think he along with Fornals could be the key to our Premier League survival.

DM: It was typically passionate from Carlton. Anderson’s style doesn’t look intense but he has an ability to hold the ball when we break from defence that is a real asset when he is on form. Let’s not forget he is still coming back from injury – a goal would make a massive difference to his confidence.

BH: I love Carlton Cole and I think he stated what we are all feeling. With that shy, subtle demeanor I never want to accuse Anderson of not trying, but I think his wizardry comes alive with confidence. Will he ever be what we see in him?  I don’t know

Is Lanzini’s time at West Ham coming to an end?

MW: Lanzini has not been the same player since he came back from injury and I worry that he will never recapture that early promise. I have a feeling that Fornals could take over as our creative midfielder alongside Anderson and that leaves Lanzini out of the picture. If that’s the case then he becomes expendable. Of course if we are relegated he will definitely be one of the players to leave us as he has a clear resale value.

DM: Sadly, yes. He has really not been the same player since his injury. In addition, we can only afford one or two defensively lightweight players in our set up. Fornals, Bowen and Anderson currently fit that role much better than Manny. 

BH: Ain’t nobody like Lanzini – not even Lanzini after his injury.  With his small body frame and the pace and power of the Premier League, I think Lanzini is playing scared. Can we give him a Billy Bonds-like protector in the midfield? Can he gain confidence with more play? Or will he favor his health over putting a foot in? We have only a few more games to see.

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