David Moyes’ West Ham United defeated Mark Hughes’ Southampton 3-0 in a Premier League relegation six-pointer at the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon thanks to goals from in-form Austrian Marko Arnautovic and Inter Milan loanee Joao Mario, here are Five Main Talking Points from the one-sided affair.
Red-Hot Arnautovic Back In The Club Goals
Colourful Austria man Arnautovic netted his first Claret & Blue goals in three games during his team’s victory on Saturday, proving that he can do it for club and country simultaneously.
The attacker was fresh from three strikes in two matches for his native Austria over the International break, two coming in a home friendly beating of Slovenia and one away to Luxembourg.
On Saturday, having not netted for Moyes’ boys since early February, he got back to his free-scoring self in the Premier League in trademark style, overtaking Javier Hernandez in the race to West Ham’s Golden Boot on nine goals in the process.
His first came on 18 minutes, converting a Mario cross with the follow-up to his header that was kept out by a smart Alex McCarthy save with a quick-fire effort that gave the Englishman no chance, the second arrived on the stroke of half-time.
A break and cross from the returning Arthur Masuaku picked him out behind the defensive line, Arnautovic needed little time to set himself and smash a first-time volley past the shot-stopper and straight into the back of the net, he is set to continue to play a key part in the Hammers’ survival bid, whilst swiftly becoming a fan favourite amongst the Claret & Blue Army.
Super Mario Off The Mark For Hammers
The Inter outcast Mario has received his fair share of critics since arriving in East London in January so far, gaining widespread criticism from fans for performances during his first few months for the Irons.
Nevertheless, despite far from impressing in the damaging London Stadium loss to Burnley last time out, the Portuguese International rewarded the faith put in him by Moyes, who kept him in the starting Xl.
Mario did miss an early opportunity in Stratford after being flicked in by Arnautovic, though it didn’t take him long to deliver where he was needed the most, especially after the early injury to fellow attacker Michail Antonio, who was replaced by Edimilson Fernandes coming back from injury himself.
The 2016 European Championships winner weighed on with a goal and assist, his strike being the opener, assisted by Cheikhou Kouyate on the break, a well-placed and powerful effort from the edge of the area that flew into the roof of the net.
The attacker’s assist to Arnautovic’s first was all the more impressive, a pinpoint delivery from the right side directly to the prolific forward’s head, aside from this, the Portuguese worked tirelessly and never seized to look a threat to goal, he will surely now be looking to push on from here in his first season in English football.
Claret & Blue Army Prove 12th Man At London Stadium
For all the impressive performances that the home players put in on the pitch, the home supporters were also lauded by the masses, including the club themselves in a later statement, for the support they showed for their team.
The match fell three weeks to the day since crowd protests, pitch invasions and demonstrations marred the hone Premier League loss to the Clarets and cast a dark shadow over the East Londoners.
Even on Saturday fans were still seen to be protesting against the way their club is being run outside the ground prior to kick-off, but inside it, instead of being toxic, the atmosphere was jubilant and electric.
This time around, protests weren’t brought inside the former Olympic Stadium and there can be little doubting that the Caret & Blue stars were lifted from the beginning by their fans, that may well have heavily contributed to their dominant display.
While the cliché “what a difference three weeks makes,” has been thrown around a fair few times in the last few days, the Irons are still not safe from the drop down to the Sky Bet Championship, albeit now 14th and five adrift of the bottom three, and they will need the continued backing of the supporters if they are going to succeed in their pivotal aim.
Saints Fall Further Into Relegation Abyss
One side that very much now are fighting for their lives at the very bottom of the PL standings are Hughes’ Saints, the new manager was dealt a second 3-0 defeat by a West Ham team this season, having already received one when in charge of Stoke City in December 2017.
Such a heavy defeat in Hughes’ first league match at the helm of the Saints and their second consecutive 3-0 away loss ion the Top-Flight saw the South Coast outfit remain 18th and a point further away from safety, two off Crystal Palace in 17th.
Had the Eagles managed to get more out of a match that they scarcely deserved to lose against Liverpool, on Saturday lunchtime, their situation could very much have been even worse than it currently is, as grave as it may seem at the moment.
The Saints, who have rarely flirted with relegation since gaining promotion back to the Premier League during the 2011/2012 season and have reached Wembley in domestic cup competitions for the second campaign on the spin, have won just one of their last 18 in the league.
Things may have to get worse before they get better for Hughes’ men too as their next opponents are Arsenal at the St Mary’s Stadium, the problem is that they are running out of time fast with just seven matches remaining, their only glimmer of hope will be a solitary game in hand over the other bottom five teams.
What Did The Managers Have To Say?
It’s now time to take a look at what both managers had to say in their respective post-match press conferences at London Stadium, which MooreThanJustAClub had the pleasure of being in.
“I thought the opening part of the game we were terrific, I think the players showed how they felt from past events.
“I think they made it well known to everybody that they were bent up and ready to go and really pleased, great start to the game.
“Marko (Arnautovic) had a great chance to score before the one he did score, but overall, thrilled with the performance, great goal by Joao Mario as well.
“I thought before the kick-off, the supporters showed exactly they were with the club, they were with the team, but I think then the players said, “come on we’ll show you what we’re going to do,” and I think the players really kicked-on.”
“(Disappointed), to say the least, wasn’t what we anticipated in fairness in terms of our performance, not the level that will enable you to win games at this level, unfortunately.
“We conceded three very poor goals in fairness, at times catastrophic errors which have been prevalent for quite some time, that’s why we find ourselves in this situation, unfortunately.
“So, clearly, we need to do something about it, we need to address it, we need to understand why it’s happening and be better next time out.
“Didn’t really give West Ham a game today, not what was intended or not was we needed to do to affect a West Ham side who were able to win the game comfortably because we gave them an easy start, unfortunately.”
So, now that everything there was to discuss from a rare afternoon of happy Hammers in East London has been well and truly covered, will there be yet more positive points to draw on come next Sunday evening? After Moyes’ Hammers have paid Antonio Conte’s Chelsea a PL visit at Stamford Bridge? Join us once again then to find out.