West Ham ended their 2020 by playing out their first goalless draw in over a year in a tight match against Southampton.
In a game of few clear-cut chances, West Ham would have been disappointed not to have come away from the South-coast with all three points. Said Benrahma‘s late effort was well saved by Alex McCarthy. The main positive was the performance of the defence, which frustrated Southampton for most of the game.
David Moyes named five changes to the team that drew with Brighton. Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko, Ryan Fredericks, Pablo Fornals and Craig Dawson came into the starting eleven. The match will be a full debut for Dawson who has not featured for the club since joining from Watford on loan in the summer.
There was a change of shape to the team as well. Moyes set his team up in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Declan Rice playing as the holding midfielder. Fans were split on the line-up, somewhere happy to see more attackers in the team. Others will be still confused about the lack of Said Benrahma and even more bewildered by the omission of Issa Diop in favour of debutant Dawson.
A win by a two-goal margin for West Ham would see them leapfrog Southampton and climb into ninth place. The Saints had their sights on climbing back into the top four with a win of their own. The hosts would have to do it without Ralph Hasenhüttl as the manager is self-isolating at home.
It only took one minute for Southampton to manage their first effort on goal. Oriol Romeu won the ball and drove through the West Ham midfield. The midfielder played a clever pass through to Che Adam. The strikers shot, however, was tame and well saved by Lukasz Fabianski.
Southampton continued to dominate and thought they took an early lead. Che Adams made a darting run in behind and managed to pick out Danny Ings. The English striker did well to go past Angelo Ogbonna and fire past Fabianski. Adams, however, was offside in the build-up.
West Ham did not really manage to threaten the host’s goal in the opening twenty minutes apart from a couple of set-piece deliveries. The Saints were managing to dominate possession and were looking dangerous when going forward.
The game started to even out as the Saints attack seemed to go off the boil. The Hammers were able to see more of the ball and get forward. The best avenue West Ham had was still utilising their set-piece threat.
The Hammers did get their first glimpse of goal from an unlikely source. Yarmolenko cut back a chipped cross from the byline. Fornals headered the ball back across the goal to Fredericks of all people. The right-back headered goalwards, but it was straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.
West Ham started the second-half the better side. There were two chances for Yarmolenko to cut on to his favoured left foot but was blocked off by the Saint’s defenders. Southampton seemed to have taken their foot off the pedal, which allowed the Hammers into the match.
The early pressure from the Hammers wake up Southampton. The home side started to dominate the ball again and were putting West Ham under serious pressure. Moyes’ side were able to defend the attacks, yet couldn’t seem to keep the ball. Needing an outlet Moyes made his first change. Said Benrahma replaced Manuel Lanzini.
The Saints were again the side to go close to the opening goal. Theo Walcott fired a dangerous shot from thirty-yards. The effort was dipping and moving in its flight. Fabianski read it well and made a solid save to keep the scores level.
Moyes did not want to settle for a one-point again. The Scot threw on attackers, Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio in search of a crucial winning goal. Bowen replaced Yarmolenko who did not have the best evening. Antonio, making his return from injury replaced Sebastien Haller.
The changes did seem to work as the Hammers looked to be on top and the more likely to get themselves ahead. The visitors, however, weren’t able to creat any clear opportunities at the Southampton goal.
Benrahma did have a chance to give West Ham the lead. The Algerian won the ball fantastically from two Saints defenders. The attacker managed to get a shot off, but Alex McCarthy was equal to it and pulled off a great save. The chance turned out to be the last opportunity for either side as the game ended goaless.
The draw means that West Ham remains tenth in the Premier League. Next up for the Hammers is another away trip, this time to take on an Everton side that will be well-rested after their mid-week game against Machester City was postponed.