A four-pronged attack could be the key to West Ham's survival bid

A four-pronged attack could be the key to West Ham’s survival bid… a combination of pace and physique made their crucial win against Southampton possible

  • West Ham tormented Southampton to a man in the club’s crucial victory 
  • David Moyes used Sebastian Haller and Michail Antonio and played direct 
  • West Ham used the new system to collect their first win since New Year’s Day
  • Moyes’ only gripe was that his side did not score more goals against the Saints

Michail Antonio, one goal, one assist. Jarrod Bowen, one goal. Sebastien Haller, one goal. Pablo Fornals, two assists. West Ham, 3-1 winners and out of the bottom three.

To a man, they tormented Southampton, with Bowen particularly determined to perform. It would have taken tying him down like Gulliver to stop him from troubling the visiting defenders. Antonio did what Antonio does, Haller looked a handful now that he had West Ham bodies around him, and Fornals showed off his repertoire of passes. With all that, this must-win was won.

David Moyes did precisely what Sportsmail’s Martin Keown suggested he should do in his Saturday column — he used Antonio and Haller up top and went direct to test the visitors. It was their combination of sheer pace and physique that made this victory possible.

West Ham fielded Sebastian Haller with Michail Antonio in their victory against Southampton

West Ham had 33.8 per cent possession and their Match of the Day highlights showed a series of counter-attacks, with Southampton unable to live with their long, probing balls. The home side got men forward in support and suddenly, Haller’s flick-ons were not going into dead, unoccupied areas. 

They were finding Antonio, or Bowen, or Fornals. That was what happened when Antonio scored his goal to complete this scoreline. If there was a lightbulb above Moyes’s head, you’d suspect it would have flicked on.

West Ham secured their first league win since New Year’s Day and this might not be a bad formation to use in forthcoming fixtures, with a testing period ahead. The next time they play a club outside the top 10 is on April 4, against Newcastle. 

Before then, they face Arsenal, Wolves, Tottenham, then Chelsea. Like on Saturday, West Ham are bound to go without the ball in those games. At least with this set-up, they would be guaranteed to ask questions of defenders.

The hosts tormented their opponents to a man with a combination of pace and physique

‘We could never defend them in a way we should do in the Premier League,’ said Ralph Hasenhuttl, Southampton’s manager, who added that the goals they conceded were a ‘joke’.

Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini and Robert Snodgrass were among those on the substitutes’ bench at the London Stadium, too. Moyes knows he has the players to avoid relegation. But he has to make sure Antonio — a sprinter in a football kit — does not aggravate any of his old muscular injuries. The 29-year-old will be key.

‘Imagine if we get Michy Antonio to his maximum with his ability,’ Moyes said after seeing his side leap to 16th, before turning his attention to their upcoming matches. ‘We’ve just played Liverpool twice and Manchester City, three out of last four games. We’ve come through a really difficult group of games. We will enjoy this but it is back to work on Sunday.’

David Moyes’ gripe was that his side didn’t score more with West Ham now out of the drop zone

The Scot’s only gripe on Saturday was that his side did not score more goals, and he wants to strike a balance between defence and attack, using Liverpool as inspiration. ‘If we want really good attacking players we have to have good defenders,’ Moyes said.

‘The biggest example is Liverpool — over the last two years they had really good attacking players but not defenders. Then they go and sign the best defender and best goalkeeper. Suddenly they now have the team and that matters.’

For West Ham, this was a day of contrasts. Before kick off, the mood was sombre, as another protest took place outside the London Stadium to project outrage towards the owners. After full time, there was more of a feel-good factor, thanks to Moyes’ four-pronged attack. They are above that dotted line. Now the hard part — staying there.

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