Felipe Anderson fires West Ham past Southampton with brilliant double

Southampton 1-2 West Ham United: Nathan Redmond scrambled Saints in front before Felipe Anderson turned the match on its head

Jack Pitt-Brooke
St Mary’s
Thursday 27 December 2018 22:46
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West Ham: A look back at 2018

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Christmas presents will have to come late this year. Because his Southampton revival will not get much further without him unwrapping a few new players in the January transfer window.

That was the lesson of this dispiriting 2-1 defeat to West Ham United at St Mary’s, a game where Saints scrapped their way into the lead before throwing it away just 10 minutes later. The momentum from beating Arsenal and Huddersfield has dissipated and, for all the efforts of the players and support of the fans, Southampton’s task looks harder tonight than it did this morning.

There is an obvious lack of goals in this team, as Saints failed to take advantage of early pressure, scored a lucky bundle and then struggled to test West Ham in the final minutes. Then there is a lack of leadership and experience in defence, as they coughed up chances to West Ham and were eventually undone by two incisive strikes from Felipe Anderson. A team serious about staying up would not take the lead and give it away like this.

Grady Diangana tries to escape the attention of Matt Targett

For West Ham this was another welcome sign of the gap that now exists between them and the relegation-threatened sides. This was their fifth win from six, more proof that Manuel Pellegrini has found a way to stay in games, keep their shape and rely on individual quality and crucial moments. They are miles away from the finished article, but they are West Ham, and this is their best moment since they played at Upton Park.

West Ham’s first task was to ride out Saints’ early pressure, as Nathan Redmond and Danny Ings went close in the first two minutes. It was a ferocious beginning from Saints but it was only ever going to be a burst. These players have just been working with Hasenhuttl for three weeks and they cannot deliver a full 90-minute pressing masterclass. Saints looked less dangerous as the first half went on, their early spark fizzling out.

Sure enough West Ham got a foothold in the game. And when they started to attack they were surprised how little Southampton resistance they faced. The lack of marking made it look like the damage of the Mark Hughes era had not been fixed, not as quickly as some here hoped. First Grady Diangana misjudged a header, and then Lucas Perez, in a dream of a position, skewed wide from Cresswell’s low cross. Marco Arnautovic cannot get fit too soon.

West Ham’s Declan Rice shrugs off Oriol Romeu in midfield

The game felt deadlocked at half-time, it needed something to break it open. Not a moment of quality – they came later – but a moment of farce. Saints went ahead with one of the ugliest, scrappiest goals of the season so far. Too many Saints attackers were played onside by Diangana and while Lukasz Fabianski desperately saved from Redmond and Romeu, he could not stop Redmond throwing himself at the ball to bundle it over the line.

West Ham were furious, hoping for offside or handball against Redmond, and getting neither. But they responded with focus and determination this group of players are not always known for. And Southampton looked happy to gift their lead away as if it was a Christmas present they never asked for.

First Maya Yoshida’s headed clearance fell to Anderson, 20 yards out, and he had the time to take a touch, set himself and belt the ball into the bottom corner. None of Saints’ back five and two holders got near enough to stop him. It is easy to be critical of Anderson but give him the ball in space and he can do things with it.

Nathan Redmond scrambles the ball home for West Ham

Six minutes later, Anderson showed that same cool class, sweeping the ball high into the net to finish a counter-attack that had started with a Southampton corner. Diop and Antonio had torn upfield, unchallenged by Saints, who were too busy arguing for a penalty to realise what was happening as play continued.

In nine minutes Saints had gone from 1-0 up to 2-1 down, the last result you would want from a team scrapping to stay up. They continued to push for an equaliser and Fabianski had to save from Lemina. But Saints never had enough to make up for their six minutes of madness, and looked at the end like they will need much more than this to stay up.

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