We battled out a pretty boring but decent 0-0 draw that ultimately could have gone either way had Jussi Jaaskelainen not been on the pitch and James Collins wasn’t the West Ham player who found himself six yards out with the ball at his feet and an empty net to shoot at. But, on reflection, it’ll probably going down as a decent point later on in the season.
Jaaskelainen was an absolute rock in goal, pulling off four world-class saves to deny Southampton all three points, which they may have deserved had the 38-year-old keeper not been at his best. But he was and he was probably the reason why we at least deserved to come away with a point.
Mohamed Diame spurned an early chance when his close-range effort was straight at Artur Boruc, while Collins skied the best chance of the game when he found himself with all the time in the world to convert Mark Noble‘s cross with just five minutes to.
Rickie Lambert hit the post in the second-half for the hosts, but neither side could find the back of the net and the game will be quickly be forgotten.
However, Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin shouldn’t have been on the pitch after his two-footed challenge on Diame in the first half went completely unpunished, with Andre Mariner not even awarding a free-kick. Diame had been booked moments earlier for a slight trip on Adam Lallana, which meant the decision not to even stop play for Schneiderlin’s challenge was even more confusing.
Other than all of that, the game didn’t do much to support the Premier League’s claims that it’s the best league in the world.
The outcome of the game was down to two important factors. Jussi Jaaskelainen’s unbeatable performance in goal and West Ham’s lack of potency up front.
Modibo Miaga was the victim of continued abuse on Twitter before, during and after the game. But had he been given the service he may have proved his doubters wrong.
It’s clear for all to see that Maiga is no good at playing up front on his own and needs a supporting striker to be more effective. However, many who watched the game will agree that life would’ve been easier for him had £7.5million Matt Jarvis been able to cross the ball and Diame wasn’t on the opposite wing over-hitting crosses that he’s not used to making.
Did we deserve it?
Not many fans will agree, but our first-half performance along warranted at least a point. We set up to frustrate Southampton and we did that perfectly.
We perhaps sat too deep in the second half and invited Southampton to attack with more freedom but, thankfully, we had Jaaskelainen between the sticks to save the day. Although there were a few occasions when he was needlessly called in to action in the second half.
Both sides gave the ball away , but both played some good football as well. It was more of a point gained than two points lost, while the Saints may see it as the opposite.
You could argue that Southampton deserved it on the balance of play, while Allardyce’s tactical approach to the game was worthy of the point.
Who stood out for the Hammers?
Jussi Jaaskelainen was the obvious Man of the Match, but Mark Noble, Winston Reid and Ravel Morrison all impressed.
Noble was the midfield engine room yesterday and battled for the entire 90 minutes, while Morrison continued to show why so many fans have called for him to be given a start in the Premier League, justifying Allardyce’s decision to answer those calls.
Reid in defence was just as solid as he has been ever since Allardyce arrived at the club. Of all the players currently at the club, he is the most improved by a long stretch and he’ll only get better. The sheer amount of blocks and interceptions he makes is outstanding and he seems to read the game seamlessly. If only James Collins could do the same?
We welcome Everton to Upton Park on Saturday in a game that will be far from easy.
Roberto Martinez has hit the ground running at Goodison Park and they’re a difficult outfit to break down, as Chelsea found out on Saturday evening.
The likes of Ross Barkley, Gareth Barry, Leon Osman and Leighton Baines all pose a threat and we’ll have to be at our very best once again to keep another clean sheet.
But the biggest worry at the moment is goals. Where are they going to come from?
There’s a high chance that Mladen Petric will start ahead of Maiga on Saturday, which will please a lot of supports, but it’s obvious that the quicker we get Andy Carroll back fit the better. Sam Allardyce needs Carroll for his tactics to work and his lack of Plan B is costing us at the moment.
That aside, a point at home to Everton wouldn’t be such a bad result. But it’ll have to be a score-draw for it to be a satisfying one, as making it four games without a goal will only add to the squad’s pressure to perform the following week.
All this talk of a relegation battle is a bit premature at the moment, though. As is all the talk that we’re currently having one of our worst periods in recent history. Perhaps make those assumptions at around Christmas time, but not after just four games.