West Ham play out goalless draw with Southampton

West Ham United's Jarrod Bowen and Southampton's Mohammed Salisu chase the ball during the Premier L

West Ham United's Jarrod Bowen and Southampton's Mohammed Salisu chase the ball during the Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton. Picture date: Saturday September 11, 2021. - Credit: PA

The Hammers may still remain unbeaten four games into the campaign but this proved to be a tricky outing to the south coast for David Moyes men, who will be relieved to head home to the East End with a point following a bitty, barren, blank afternoon at St Mary’s Stadium.

After creating few clear-cut chances of their own, West Ham United had to survive a late onslaught as Southampton substitute Armando Broja twice went within a whisker of snatching victory, while top-scorer and August’s EA Sports Premier League Player of the Month, Michail Antonio, was also given his marching orders against the Saints in stoppage time for a reckless second yellow card.  

Undefeated and unchanged, the Hammers had started their afternoon in second-spot buoyed by news of table-topping Spurs’ three-goal lunchtime defeat in a Selhurst Park shocker at Crystal Palace but sadly they failed to take advantage of the north Londoners slip-up.

Returning from the international break, Moyes kept with the same starting line-up that had drawn 2-2 with Palace last time out and that meant transfer deadline captures Kurt Zouma (Chelsea), Nikola Vlašić (CSKA Moscow) and Alex Král (Spartak Moscow) had to settle for places on the bench.

Apart from an early Adam Armstrong shot that Hammers ‘keeper Łukasz Fabiański comfortably fielded, there was little goalmouth action in the opening quarter-hour and, when Oriol Romeu was booked for tripping an escaping Saïd Benrahma 20 yards out, Aaron Cresswell could only fire the consequent free-kick into the Saints wall before lashing the rebound high and wide.

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A 2-2 draw at Newcastle United a fortnight ago had earned the 14th-placed Saints only their second point of the campaign and Ralph Hasenhüttl made two switches as Nathan Redmond and Romain Perraud came in for substitutes Kyle Walker-Peters and Che Adams.

Midway through the opening period, Moussa Djenepo cut into the area before unleashing an angled effort that skimmed off Craig Dawsons’ head for corner and, shortly afterwards, Valentino Livramento had the back-pedalling Fabiański gratefully grabbing the full-back’s speculative long-range lob out from underneath his right-hand angle.

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But with both sides losing possession as quickly as they were winning it in a congested midfield mix of untidiness and scrappiness, neither ‘keeper was under any sustained threat.

Indeed, West Ham were also reduced to trying their luck from distance as both Jarrod Bowen and Tomáš Souček fired wide, while Djenepo was off-target, too, in a dour, disappointing first-half.

After failing to muster a single shot on target during those opening 45 minutes, though, the Hammers took just seconds after the restart to force Alex McCarthy into his first save of the afternoon, when the breaking Benrahma back-heeled to former Saint, Antonio, whose low angled 18-yarder was repelled at the base of his left-hand post by the home ‘keeper.

In reply, an off-balance Redmond wastefully slashed into the side-netting after Djenepo sent him racing free before Souček nodded over the top at the other end as goal chances suddenly began to present themselves.

Armstrong also glanced wide and with Romeu being replaced by Ibrahima Diallo, Moyes also called to the bench and, having introduced Vlasić at the expense of Benrahma, the West Ham boss almost saw his new-boy make an instant impact but Antonio just could not connect with the Croatian’s clever cut-back to the edge of the six-yard box.

Midway through the second period Bowen’s swivelling volley was parried into the Southampton skies by McCarthy, who then held Dawson’s glancing header when the consequent corner was whipped into the danger-zone.   

Both Antonio and Jack Stephens were booked for a touchline tussle seconds before skipper Declan Rice also saw yellow for a late-lunge on Livramento as the game continued to come off the back-burner.

With a quarter-hour remaining, Broja stepped from the dug-out to replace Armstrong and Chelsea’s on-loan, Albanian substitute wasted no time showing Angelo Ogbonna a clean pair of heels when he broke from halfway but fortunately for the Hammers his low, angled 15-yarder crashed back off the base of Fabiański’s right-hand upright.

By now, the initiative was firmly with Southampton, who saw both Diallo and Mohamed Elyounoussi slash narrowly wide before Rice then hooked Broja’s towering header off the line in the dying seconds.

Still there was time for an over-enthusiastic Antonio to collect that second yellow card for clumsy late lunge on the already airborne Djenepo and - as they now prepare to travel to Dinamo Zagreb for Thursday’s Europa League tie – ten-man West Ham left the field grateful that they head to Croatia with their unbeaten Premier League record still intact.

HAMMERS: Fabiański, Coufal, Cresswell, Dawson, Ogbonna, Rice, Souček, Fornals, Bowen (Yarmolenko 82), Benrahma (Vlašić 63), Antonio. Unused subs: Areola, Zouma, Lanzini, Noble, Diop, Fredericks, Král.

SAINTS: McCarthy, Livramento, Perraud, Stephens, Salisu, Ward-Prowse, Romeu (Diallo 53), Elyounoussi, Djenepo, Redmond, Armstrong (Broja 74). Unused subs: Forster, Walker-Peters, Lyanco, Adams, Tella, Bednarek, Valery.

Booked: Romeu (13), Antonio (71), Stephens (71), Rice (73), Salisu (90+2).

Sent-Off: Antonio (90+3)

Referee: David Coote

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