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West Ham’s pace and support for Haller is the key to victory over Southampton

PUBLISHED: 12:42 02 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:49 02 March 2020

West Ham United's Sebastien Haller (centre, floor) scores his side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

West Ham United's Sebastien Haller (centre, floor) scores his side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

PA Wire/PA Images

Attacking formation pays dividends for Moyes and his Hammers

West Ham United's Michail Antonio (left) and Southampton's Jack Stephens battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium.West Ham United's Michail Antonio (left) and Southampton's Jack Stephens battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

Amid all the protests outside the ground and the pressure of being in the bottom three, West Ham suddenly found their form and with a deserved victory over Southampton, hauled themselves out of the bottom three.

Buoyed by their display at Liverpool last Monday, manager David Moyes actually went on the attack for this game.

Sebastien Haller returned to the front line and more importantly he was expertly supported by the pace of Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen as well as the enterprise of Pablo Fornals.

Who knew that playing an attacking team rather than fielding yet another defensive and cautious line-up would have paid such dividends? - Most of us actually.

West Ham United's Declan Rice (centre) and Southampton's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium.West Ham United's Declan Rice (centre) and Southampton's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (right) battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

It was like a breath of fresh air to have some real pace in this team and someone who can unlock defences.

Fornals threaded a ball through to the darting Bowen who finished superbly on his first start for the Hammers; Antonio's lofted cross saw Haller make the most of it and win the header before scoring from an acute angle.

And then in the second half, Fornals again put Antonio through to make it three.

It was not all plain sailing of course. Southampton managed to punish the Hammers in the first half when play broke down in the area and the Saints skilfully broke away to make it 1-1.

West Ham United players celebrate after team mate Jarrod Bowen scores their sides first goal of the game during the Premier League match at London Stadium.West Ham United players celebrate after team mate Jarrod Bowen scores their sides first goal of the game during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

And then at the start of the second half there were some nervous moments as Southampton impressed down the flanks to put West Ham under pressure.

The third goal ended any real doubt and Antonio should have made it four when Haller put him through with a 'rabona', only for Alex McCarthy to deny him.

But it was the support given to West Ham's record signing that was the major talking point and what the team have been missing for so long this season.

"Seb and Michi were very good today," said Moyes. "There are opportunities where we can play them together, there will be opportunities where we can't.

West Ham United's Sebastien Haller (left) celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game with team mate Jarrod Bowen during the Premier League match at London Stadium.West Ham United's Sebastien Haller (left) celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game with team mate Jarrod Bowen during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

"Sebastien grew into the game today. He got better as the game went on. As did Michi, who had a couple of chances early on as well.

"Both did a really good job today. They had been successful up front at Southampton so that had been in my mind."

That suggests that in some of the tougher games, away at Arsenal this weekend for instance, he will be back to that cautious approach, which is a worry.

"Winning changes everyone's feel," said the boss. "Even here you can see the difference in how we feel, but I think the difference is the performance on Monday at Liverpool gave us a chance here.

"Good performances lead to good results. You can play well and lose but if you're using it as a guide, we need good performances. If we get that, we'll continue to pick up results."

Spanish midfielder Fornals went off to a rapturous reception close to the end, but Moyes, who left him out of the squad at Manchester City, was still guarded in his praise.

"He was good, I'm taking the word very out," said Moyes cautiously. "I wanted him to do more with the ball at different times. He had some opportunities. The couple of passes for the goals were exceptional.

Let is not count our chickens and one win does not make safety, but it shows that there is a lot of talent in this West Ham squad and if they are allowed to express themselves then they will be okay.

Surely they will be okay.

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