KEOWN TALKS TACTICS: West Ham playing Sebastien Haller and Michail Antonio would take the game to Saints
- West Ham must earn their Premier League status, starting with Saturday’s game
- After Southampton, West Ham meet Arsenal, Wolves, Tottenham and Chelsea
- It isn’t until matchday 33 that they face an opponent currently outside the top 10
- West Ham’s players put in a respectable performance against Liverpool
There is no such thing as being too good to go down. I remember hearing that when I was a player with Aston Villa in 1986-87, before we were relegated to the Second Division after 12 straight top-flight seasons.
West Ham have to earn their Premier League status now, too, starting with what feels like a must-win match against Southampton on Saturday.
After this, West Ham’s next games are against Arsenal, Wolves, Tottenham and Chelsea.
After Saints, West Ham’s next games are against Arsenal, Wolves, Tottenham and Chelsea
It isn’t until matchday 33 that they face an opponent currently outside the top 10 — Newcastle away, on April 10.
West Ham’s players put in a more than respectable performance against Liverpool on Monday, giving the champions-elect a real run for their money at Anfield.
Felipe Anderson posed problems for Trent Alexander-Arnold, Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna’s partnership was solid and 19-year-old Jeremy Ngakia did a good job filling in for Ryan Fredericks.
The system worked well with two midfield sitters in Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice, and club captain Mark Noble hanging off the front.
West Ham’s players put in a more than respectable performance against Liverpool on Monday
They were only unfortunate that Lukasz Fabianski, their best player in recent times, let the result slip through his fingers.
Manager David Moyes must have spent a great deal of this week trying to work out his best XI and he will have looked at how they beat Southampton 1-0 at St Mary’s Stadium in December, with Michail Antonio and Sebastien Haller used up front in a 4-4-2 formation by then-boss Manuel Pellegrini.
That was the first time those two had started together since the opening day of the Premier League season.
Antonio had a goal ruled out by VAR but was named man of the match, while Haller, their £45million striker, scored the winner that day at St Mary’s.
His goal came after great running and persistence from Antonio, a cross by Robert Snodgrass, a cushioned header back by Pablo Fornals, then a pin-point finish.
Reinstating that partnership between Haller and Antonio might help West Ham on Saturday take the game to the visitors and don’t be afraid to go direct either.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s style is to press high and win the ball back — only Liverpool and Manchester City have won possession in the final third more than Southampton this season.
West Ham need to bypass that and avoid allowing the deadly Danny Ings, who boasts one of the best shot-conversion rates in the Premier League, too many chances in front of goal.
Michail Antonio and Sebastien Haller were used up front against Southampton last time out
One problem for Moyes is that Soucek is sidelined for three weeks. If he opts for a system with a front two, I wonder if Fornals might be a better option than Noble alongside Rice in their midfield.
They can be an unforgiving audience at the London Stadium — the fans want to see ‘the West Ham way’ and a fight for Europe. But right now, this group of players could do with their supporters getting behind them.
Southampton have earned everyone’s respect with the way they have come back from that 9-0 hiding against Leicester in October – a defeat which left them third bottom in the table.
West Ham now occupy that position themselves and have only 11 Premier League games left to pull themselves out of the mire, starting on Saturday.
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