We may have taken six points off of Southampton this season but the Saints should be commended for their application and results during the last few months.
When they hosted Champions League hopefuls Leicester City in October, the visitors inflicted a Premier League record-equalling 9-0 defeat on the Saints.For all the world it looked as if relegation was inevitable for the home side. Many, myself included, saw manager Ralph Hasenhuttl as living on borrowed time in charge at St Mary’s Stadium.
But since that night of shame, the south coast side have shown remarkable character in turning their season around. The only blotches of note are probably their two performances and defeats against us. In the fifteen Premier League games that followed Southampton picked up an impressive 23 points, a run which saw them climb to 13th in the table, and sat closer to 5th place than to the relegation zone.
Not only were the number of points accumulated been noteworthy but the calibre of opponents faced in this run was eye catching. The Saints beat Spurs, Chelsea and beat Leicester away from home 2-1. The Saints came to the London Stadium last month brimming with confidence having had some great results on their travels.
A late Alexandre Lacazette goal snatched a point for Arsenal at the Emirates when the Saints visited, this draw accompanied other victories at Crystal Palace, and Aston Villa. The Saints’ in-form striker Danny Ings is now being discussed for a surprise place in the squad for this summer’s European Championships, and deservedly so given his return of 10 Premier League goals during this 15 game spell. He was unlucky not to have scored against us at London Stadium.
James Ward-Prowse has also been highly influential during this period and has been both a goal scoring and creative force from midfield. It takes a real sense of togetherness from the players and staff to drag themselves from such an embarrassment and all time low and that is to be respected, West Ham should take note.
It is worth noting that we beat Southampton away from home in what was Manuel Pelligrini’s final victory for the club, and we did this by playing with two up front. Michail Antonio was unplayable on the night and brought the best out of strike partner Sebastien Haller with his tireless running, he did both again when we faced the Saints last month.
I wonder if Moyes will be brave enough to continue to play two up top for the rest of the season and take the game to our opponents – especially at home.Our home form has been shameful for far too long and if we are going to remain in the Premier League, then we need to be picking up more points at home.
If we can start putting in more performances like we’ve done against Southampton and getting some more results, we could bring the Saints back into touching distance. Let’s face it; We need as many teams as possible dragged into the stress of a relegation battle! It’s time to stand up and be counted West Ham.