15/09/2013: Saints 0-0 West Ham
Saints were unable to break West Ham down at St Marys in what was a rather interminable contest. The home side probably just about edged it on the balance of play and created more than enough chances. Saints were unable to find that finishing touch against an inspired Jussi Jaaskelainen, however.
Mauricio Pochettino started with a flexible front four of Adam Lallana, Dani Osvaldo, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez. The quartet rotated positions throughout the game. West Ham made an aggressive start to proceedings, pressing the Southampton back four. They were on top in the early going and created a few half chances. Both teams struggled to get much of a rhythm going as the half wore on, with much of the action being contested in the middle of the park. Lambert, Rodriguez and Osvaldo had chances before the break, but neither side really looked like scoring.
Saints looked a lot more adventurous immediately after the re-start. Sam Allardyce's teams are renowned for their prowess at set pieces, but it was the home side who found greater joy from corners and free-kicks. Lambert nodded against the post, with Victor Wanyama blasting against a Hammers defender on the rebound. The Kenyan had earlier tested Jaaskelainen from distance. Morgan Schneiderlin twice went close, firstly with an acrobatic effort. Saints' front four looked a bit more fluid than they have done in recent games, but further back Scheiderlin and Wanyama weren't quite as incisive on the ball as they should have been. West Ham were able to take the sting out of the game slightly during the final 20 minutes or so, although Saints remained on top for the most part. Having said that, the visitors could have easily nicked it towards the end. James Collins was presented with a glorious chance inside the box, but somehow fired over. Substitute James Ward-Prowse delivered a few dangerous free-kicks, but nothing strong enough to beat Jaaskelainen.
The game panned out as most would have probably predicted. West Ham did everything in their power to stop the flow of the game, and when that didn't work they had a keeper who was at his very best. It's hard to work out where Saints are as a team right now. Defensively we have improved exponentially compared to where we were for much of last season. Teams aren't creating many chances against us. We looked more balanced going forward than we did against Norwich, but the fact that we're still without a goal from open play is slightly concerning. However, if we create that many chances every game you'd like to think we will eventually start putting them away. It's been a reasonable start, and there's plenty of potential to go much further if we can be a bit more clinical in front of goal.
Boruc: 7. Made a couple of very good saves, and distribution was better than it has been
Clyne: 7. Good to have him back in the side. Looked pretty sharp
Fonte: 7. Passing a bit off early on, but very comfortable defensively
Lovren: 7. Received a knock in the second half which affected him slightly, but prior to that he was near flawless. Made some more impressive runs out from the back
Shaw: 7. Very strong in the tackle, and good link up play going forward
Wanyama: 6. A bit of a mixed bag. Used his strength well and had a few half decent efforts on goal, but often wasteful on the ball.
Schneiderlin: 6. Made some superb runs, but still nowhere near the level he was at last season. Passing slightly lax, and occasionally a bit slow to make the right decision on the ball
Lallana: 7. Looked fairly lively throughout. Once again slightly unfortunate to have been subbed off
Lambert: 6. Not quite at his very best, but a reasonable showing. Had a few decent chances
Rodriguez: 6. Created a few openings with some tricky play down the left, but also frustratingly profligate in front of goal
Osvaldo: 6. Showed touches of class and got himself in some good positions. Should thrive once has a few more weeks to get used to his new teammates
Ward-Prowse: 6. Improved things slightly with some fine set piece delivery
Chambers: Didn't have a lot to do
Attendance: 28,794 (2,664 West Ham fans)
Referee: Andre Marriner
Saints: Boruc, Clyne, Lovren, Fonte, Shaw (Chambers, 77), Lallana (Ward-Prowse, 72), Schneiderlin, Rodriguez, Wanyama, Lambert, Osvaldo
Subs not used: K Davis, Hooiveld, Guly, S Davis, Ramirez
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel (Rat, 61), O'Brien, Reid, Collins, Noble, Jarvis, Diame, Nolan, Morrison (Taylor, 77), Maiga (Vaz Te, 68)
Subs not used: Adrian, Tomkins, Lee, Collison