11/02/2015: Saints 0-0 West Ham
Saints were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw against West Ham at St Mary's. The home side were dominant throughout, but couldn't find a way through The Hammers' rigid defence, even with a man advantage. The result leaves Saints 4th in the table.
Saints started off at a fairly high tempo. Ronald Koeman's side looked to play their way through quickly. There was plenty of good build up play, but most moves within 25 yards of goal broke down. Steven Davis played a neat backheel to Sadio Mane in the area, before the Senegalese striker knocked the ball across goal via an Adrian deflection.
West Ham had a shot blocked from a corner, pretty much their only serious effort on goal. The Hammers played on the counter throughout, but never really caused Saints' backline any problems, despite starting with three strikers. At the other end, Mane shot just wide from Graziano Pelle's lay-off, following good claiming from Harrison Reed. Saints almost beat West Ham at their own game with a troubling direct free-kick. Davis shot wide just before the break, by which time the crowd were directing all their frustration towards the referee, who made a number of questionable decisions.
The complexion of the game didn't change in the slightest at the start of the second half. Saints were still in control of the ball, but unable to find a way through. Pelle sliced his effort straight at Adrian from Mane's pass. Outside of that passage of play, goal scoring opportunities were scarce until the 61st minute when Adrian was deservedly sent off for handling outside the box. The keeper had the ball at his feet and was put under pressure by Mane before committing the offence.
West Ham were conservative before going down to 10, but completely stood off during the final half-hour. Time wasting tactics were prevalent throughout, as Sam Allardyce's men packed the box with players. Saints attempted to stretch the play by utilising the flanks. The home side had enough chances to win it. Pelle blazed over following good work from Mane. Yoshida nodded past the post before Jose Fonte cut inside and shot at Jaaskelainen with his left foot. Tadic made space for himself in the area before forcing another decent stop from the keeper. Saints looked edgy towards the end of the game. Koeman's side just couldn't find that breakthrough.
Once again Saints were shown up in the final third. Teams have found a way to stop us at St Mary's recently, and we've struggled to find an answer. Tadic and Pelle haven't been completely terrible as of late, but they certainly aren't performing to the level they were at earlier in the season. It's a worrying trend, and one Saints need to reverse quickly if they want to remain in the top four.
Forster: 6. A spectator for almost the entire match
Clyne: 7. Some quick bursts down the flank
Fonte: 6. Made some good forward runs. Rarely troubled at the back
Gardos: 6. Had very little to do
Yoshida: 7. Another decent showing at left-back. Solid defensively throughout. Not great going forward early on, but better in the 2nd half
Wanyama: 7. Generally shielded the ball well
Reed: 8. Made a number of strong tackles and also distributed the ball effectively
Davis: 7. Moved the ball quickly and made a few well timed runs
Elia: 6. Involved in some tough battles with Carl Jenkinson on the left
Mane: 6. Not quite at his best, but did manage to open up some space with his pace. Involved in several goal scoring opportunities
Pelle: 6. Worked hard and took up some decent positions, but finishing deserted him once again
Tadic: 6. Showed some decent skill, cutting in from the touchline
Ward-Prowse: 6. Saw a fair bit of the ball without really being able to break West Ham down
Djuricic: A solid cameo. Picked out some good passes in tight areas
Attendance - 31,241 (3,237 West Ham fans)
Referee - Craig Pawson
Saints: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Gardos, Yoshida, Wanayama, Reed (Ward-Prowse 67), S Davis, Elia (Tadic 62), Mane (Djuricic 81), Pelle
Subs not used: K Davis, McCarthy, Flannigan
West Ham: Adrian, Jenkinson, Kouyate, Tomkins, Cresswell, Song, Amalfitano, Downing, Sakho (Carroll), Cole (Jaaskelainen 63), Valencia (Jarvis 46)
Subs not used: O'Brien, Burke, Oxford, Lee