West Ham battled for a hard-earned point at St Mary’s on Wednesday evening despite finishing the match with practically nine men.
In what was a tightly contested encounter with very few openings for either side, the game came to life after 60 minutes when Hammers stopper Adrian saw red for handling the ball outside of his area.
Sam Allardyce claimed post-match that the ‘keeper was fouled by the onrushing Sadio Mane and he may’ve had a point. Andy Carroll came on only to damage his knee which rendered him immobile for the closing stages with the Hammers out of substitutes.
In the circumstances it was a very good point for West Ham, they showed great character to shut out the high-flying Saints and claim their first clean sheet in 18 league matches.
Here we take a look at five things we learned from the match.
1. Allardyce can't help himself
The Irons boss has been in the media this week claiming how sophisticated he is – not for the first time – but his ego could well be West Ham’s undoing.
His arrogance repeatedly leads him to tinker with the side’s system and once again it didn’t do the team justice. Injuries perhaps forced him to do this and they did claim a point, but it seems such a waste to play your best players out of position. West Ham’s top scorer, Diafra Sakho, was used as a winger with Carlton Cole up top on his own – baffling.
With the players Allardyce had available he could’ve still set up in a diamond formation yet his desire to try and tinker his way to a result saw them play out a dour opening hour even prior to the sending off.
It's a fine line between genius and madness.
2. Injury list is concerning
Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan missed the match through illness and injury respectively which left the Hammers incredibly short in midfield. It wasn’t too conspicuous, though, despite playing against a strong Saints outfit.
With Winston Reid and James Collins still out and Carroll’s new injury West Ham are going to be stretched for their FA Cup fifth-round clash with West Brom on Saturday. Cheikhou Kouyate was also seen limping at the end of the match which is a massive concern. They’ll hope to have at least a couple back for the weekend.
3. Jaaskelainen has still got it
Jussi Jaaskelainen was called in to Premier League action for the first time since New Year’s Day 2014 following Adrian’s moment of madness and he showed no signs of rustiness.
The 39-year-old ‘keeper impressed hugely in his 30-minute cameo and made a string of fine saves to keep the hosts out and help the Hammers claim a long overdue clean sheet.
The veteran is now likely to feature at the Hawthorns and on this showing he still boasts a safe pair of hands which could make all the difference to the side’s FA Cup aspirations.
4. Carroll's injury woes have no end
Since returning from injury in November it was going so smoothly for Carroll, scoring five goals in 14 appearances, but once again he looks to be in for another spell on the treatment table.
The big no9 has terrible fortune and having just spent two weeks out he was brought on against the Saints only to aggravate the same injury, which could see him out for even longer. It was rumoured he was seen leaving the ground on crutches and everyone at West Ham will be hoping it’s nothing too serious.
5. Hammers have great resilience
To avoid defeat against a team sitting in the top four at this stage of the season, with practically nine men, is a brilliant achievement and Allardyce stated after the game that it felt like a win.
The Hammers haven’t won in their last six league away matches, though, and they need to start turning all these draws into wins if they’re going to continue to challenge for European qualification places.
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