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Saints At West Ham The Verdict
Sunday, 23rd Feb 2014 10:33

It was the normal case o plenty of possession, plenty of shots but far too few on target and another case of points dropped when really they should have been won.

This was a case of two different types of teams, one a team that can pass and pass a ball, another who prefer a more direct style, a lesson should perhaps be learnt here, that possession is a good foundation, but unless you keep it tight at one end and create chances at the other it means absolutely nothing.

Saints had 79% possession, they had 25 shots on goal, but they had exactly the same number on target as West Ham who despite so little of the ball still got 10 shots on goal and 5 on target, but the stat that mattered was in their favour 3-1.

It all started so well, after 20 minutes we were 1-0 up and in total control of the game, then came a through ball for Jarvis that completely split the defence and they were level, yes Jarvis was offside, but it was a matter of inches rather than feet and in open play the linesman can't be blamed it was that close.

But it got worse, 3 minutes later Carlton Cole got in an unmarked header that came back off a post, Yoshida was found wanting, he had plenty of time to clear, but didn't and Cole nipped in and smashed the ball home to give the Hammer a lead that three minutes earlier they couldn't have dreamed of.

For a while they were in the ascension and pushing for a third to kill the game off, but Saints weathered a storm that produced little in actual chances for the home side and finished the half stronger, Lambert himself hitting a post.

Early in the second half came a moment of controversy, the ball was handled by a West Ham defender twice in quick succession, Clattenberg waved both appeals away, in fairness to him they were the sort of appeals easy to spot with the benefit of slow motion replay, not so easy when its in real time and only the naked eye to see them.

Saints continued to dominate but it was on very few occasions they troubled the keeper and then with twenty minutes to go they went to sleep again at the back when Nolan was left unmarked to finish with aplomb.

Saints kept going right to the end but the truth is the Hammers were content to let us pass it around and we rarely worked the keeper.

This was like most other games, a story of possession but having that possession is pointless unless you do something with it, it was a tale of two styles, the more direct of West Ham and our more patient build up type of game, what we cant afford to do is to have these lapses at the back, we had them at Fulham in the first half and got away with them, we didn't at West Ham and paid the price.

Likewise going forward we have to sometimes go for goal, too often we are trying to walk it in rather than be a little more direct, the shots tally tells one story but mostly its not the true one and despite 25 efforts on goal only 5 were on target and no one who watched the game will be voting for the West Ham keeper as man of the match that is for sure.

We can tighten up at the back, the return of Lovren hopefully next week will do that, but going forward we really are too predictable, Rickie Lambert hit the post, but did little else, our style calls for mobility from our front three players, that is not Rickie's game, im not saying he doesn't have a part to play now or next season, but we do have to have a different option up front, yes Gallagher came on for Rickie, but it didn't change anything, we need a different style of forward in our armoury, we need to be able to change tactics when the opposition are comfortable in handling our attacking play.

One thing that struck me with the Hammer's first goal was the question of when was the last time we got a player through on goal in that situation when a through ball puts a man through one on one with the keeper, yes Rodriguez almost got in that situation in the opening minutes, but that was a crossfield pass, im talking here about genuine through balls.

We are still a work in progress, still a couple of players short of having the variety needed to truly be a top 7 side, too often we are reliant on getting away with a few things at the back as we did at Fulham and Hull, when we get away with them fine, when we don't as at Upton Park then we get beaten and are left rueing individual moments in the game.

League wise this doesnt change much, perhaps West Ham being only 8 points behind us now harbour hopes of catching us, but truth is we only need to win three more games and that would probably ensure 9th place, if we want more than that we need to start being tighter at the back and varying things a little more.

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slynch added 11:13 - Feb 23
It's difficult to blame the strike force when you lose 3-1. You can't really respect them to score 4 every week?
With Luvren and Wanyama back the team will "man up" a bit.
With just position to play for I would like to see a bit more experimentation with line-ups, without criticism if it goes wrong. Shaw given a bit more of an attacking mid field role perhaps and Gallagher starting and more youth involvement.

slynch added 11:14 - Feb 23
..and cheaper home seats!

iddywig added 11:14 - Feb 23
Great piece, I am a West Ham fan but thought I would like to comment. You have a great attacking team that most, outside the top 5, would like to watch. You have exciting top players. Unfortunately you lack just a few pieces. But that's all it is. West ham are on form, you are just not clinical enough, it could of been 2 0 but we took our chances. It was, as you say, inches not metres but where you fell down was you let it affect you negatively not using it to attack the other end. On the stats you seemed to have plenty more shots but actually we were had the same....

You have a fantastic set up, great support and a young side that can develop over the next few years. You are playing that there is no goal now, mid table. 95% of your potential.

But premiership football for 2015, that's what we all want. You already have that. Well done.


abingdonsaint added 11:33 - Feb 23
Decent summary Nick, and we are very much still a work in progress, but while the last couple of games have been disappointing, I am still convinced the future is very bright.

It is true that there are far too many games where we fail to make our domination count, but ultimately the philosophy of our style is the way forward if we are truly to compete at the top of the table. Poch talks about this a lot, and whilst I am sure he is aware we do need some different options at times, this basic philosophy will not change. And let's face it, I am glad I'm a season ticket holder at St Mary's rather than The Boleyn, and despite yesterday's result, I am sure a lot of West Ham fans would agree!

It is important now that we keep our focus for the remainder of the season, as anything below 8th now would be less than we deserve for our quality and performances so far.

montecristo added 11:34 - Feb 23
our shortcomings were obvious and I am afraid they center on Lambert.I think he is a great player, but for me he is being played out of position . So often he was found coming deep or out wide, he is supposed to be a centralstriker for gods sake. More often than not when the crosses came in, and they did, there was no one capable of getting on the end of them, and the West Ham defenders were easily able to clear. Saints need to buy, and buy top quality strikers, and I use the plural because one wont be enough. As for Lambert ,I am not sure , is he a floater like Sheringham or is irt the case that he is een as no longer capable of playing as a central striker because of his lack of pace???Sort this problem out and we could be top four.

SaintGeorge added 11:36 - Feb 23
Totally totally! That thing we do where we play it up to the box, then pass it left-to-right over and over and over again, while the opposition's back four stand in a line, legs akimbo, watching it happen, reminds me of nothing so much as a game of space invaders.

ALL it would take, is ONE enterprising player to charge up behind that situation and for Ads or Gaston to thread a slow ball on for them. I've been screaming at the telly every game. MAKE A RUN MAKE A F***ING RUN!!!

Ah well. COYR.

saint22 added 14:09 - Feb 23
Boy do we need a couple of exciting goal getters next season, that plus CB has to be priority

Fordy added 15:34 - Feb 23
Ultimately, two different managers and Allardyce's approach won. If West Ham came to St. Mary's and went 1-0 up you know they would just stick 11 men behind the ball and hope for scraps on the break.

When we go 1-0 up away from home we just keep playing exactly the same way. Is this the right way to do it? I don't know. Sometimes we will win 3-0 like at Fulham and Cardiff and sometimes we will get caught out like at Chelsea and West Ham. Maybe we need to have a little more variation.

Having said that, the luck really didn't go our way yesterday. Their first goal was offside and they hit the post and it comes back out for them and then we hit the post from almost the same position and it comes to nothing. It could have been very different.

I think it is just a shame that having got rid of Osvaldo we didn't bring in a replacement. Bringing in Danny Ings would have given us someone a bit different to Lambert or why didn't we try and get Bamford on loan rather than Derby? I know MP and Jose get on well and I don't think Jose would have minded Bamford getting Prem experience and maybe taking points off his rivals.

aceofthebase added 16:03 - Feb 23
Is Torres going cheap?

We play the same way as Barcelona, passing it around in front of the opposition box, the difference is the fine pass and the quick runs into the penalty box with a clinical finish. We try the short slow lofted pass. C'mon boys get those penetrating passes going

The defense again is fantastic except in certain situations. eg Shaw out of position or set piece corners.

The POX has never played RL as a proper CF, RL on the wing putting in the crosses is a real waste. That said I think his time is nearly up, sad but many think the same

now what about Torres?

BoondockSaint added 17:09 - Feb 23
This getting like a broken record (I know youngsters will have to google what that is!):
Playing to level of the opposition.
Rickie looks out of sorts.
Lots of possession as the other team just let us tire ourselves out so we'll give up a late goal.
Plenty of shots, hardly any on target, which forwards should be able to do with their eyes closed!
Gaston comes on late provides a bit of spark and you wonder why he didn't start.
No killer instinct to put a team (particularly one lower on the table) away, especially when we have the lead.
Only change to this pattern was MP didn't take Lallana off with 10 or 15 minutes left in the game when we needed a goal.

OK, rant over.

So based on our pattern, next week we will get a point against Liverpool, but we will out-play them, have the lead and then give up a late goal, most likely on a dive by the cannibal.

Is any wonder I drink?

thegeneral added 17:17 - Feb 23
Rickie Lambert looked knackered to me, and whilst MP and the club have done a lot right they have got the transfers wrong, so there is no replacement to give him a break. But as mentioned we are a work in progress. West Ham won ugly, fair play, not my sort of football but they do what they have to do. I can't see what difference Wanyama would have made to that game as we were dominant in the middle. We all know the situation with the defence so no point waffling on about it, if Fulham get relegated (and i hope they don't), i think we should have a good look at Dan Byrne, he looks very promising. Plus side Ramirez looked good.

Zambucco added 23:17 - Feb 23
Have to disagree with an earlier poster, I think the forwards should come in for some blame, 25 efforts at goal only 5 on target. In my book that's an atrocious return. But saying that, Corky and Morgan desperately need some goal scoring lessons, Actually Fonte and Lovren could give them a few lessons.
I totally agree with another poster ( I know I could go back and find their names) it's like space invaders once we get to the box. This is where Corky and Morgan fall down they never look for the 'killer' ball. Steve Davis does, in fact he only moves one direction, forward! I'm really praying that Ramirez carries on with his improvement, as he will supply. Apart from adam and to a certain extent Rickie, those penetrating clever through balls or few and far between.
I can understand us not having a plan 'B' our system doesn't need one, Barcelona don't have one (yes they do have billions of pounds worth of talent) My faith is we will build our squad to suit the style.

So very nice to have a supporter from a different team coming on and complimenting us, if they can show faith, then so should we.

More goals, more concentration at the back, Europe next year!


Sango123 added 03:28 - Feb 24
This has been the trend the whole season. I mentioned this even during our good run at the start of the season. We got more positive results then because of our stringent defense but we have never been able to really score freely.

The worse part is teams are starting to adapt to our tactics by parking the bus and then hit on the counter attack down the flank. That is the reason our away records are almost as good as our home records in terms of wins and draws. We play better when the teams open up but struggle when they play defensively. That is the reason why we need a plan B to change when the tactic failed. Chelsea beats us twice when they swapped tactics at half time. This is the importance of a good manager who can change when necessary. Our plan B currently is swapping out Jack Cork for Gaston Ramirez. Has it paid dividend so far? No, the results remained the same. This is the same reason why we never beat any team when we fall behind. We struggle to score goals and create clear cutting chances when the opponent plays deep.

5 shots on target out of 25 shows some poor shooting. I am actually sick of the manager coming out to say we deserve to win or we should have won. The fact is we did not deserve anything if we do not score more than the opponent. Possession, shots on goals are meaningless stats compared to goals score and concede. We have to be more clinical and we need a new striker. This formation does not suit Rickie Lambert that well as he is being forced to play like a right attacking midfielder. He can cross and pass well but does not have the pace to be truly effective. His movement to the right means there is not enough bodies in the box to take advantage of any chance in the box

simmo400 added 11:30 - Feb 24
Yoshida scored a good goal...........yet cost us at the other end. Luke Shaw with another mistake cost us another. Yes Jarvis was offside but if he had run back with him he never would haved scored and that he should of done not wait on the linesman. These basic errors gave all the momentum to WH. Even when we got in at goal we were toothless. Gaston, and Lallana Guilty not to find the net or even hit the target. Unless we can convert possesion to goals we are wasting are time.

Whatsforpud added 12:47 - Feb 24
Pretty passing football in midfield from Cork and Schneiderlin, and they are probably most of the reason that we are second in the possession league. However, they should be more effective at shooting. I thought Henderson was a pretty average player when he got into the Liverpool side, but he has now added goalscoring to his play.

bstokesaint added 13:02 - Feb 24
Same old same old. The most concerning thing is that such a large amount of posters on here, probably representative of our wider fan base, can see our problems but the manager can't. Ultimately it falls with Poch to sort this out. It's horrible to think that we are now effectively going through the motions for the rest of the season. Let's be honest the FA Cup was a huge chance missed. However we do have that opportunity now to try a few things out. We base our high pressing game on teams like Barca, which is great and fantastically exciting to watch, but we're toothless in comparison. Look at the ball that Barca split the Man C defence up with the other night when Messi went through. That's what we need. Not those infuriating lofted chips to the back post which are bread and butter stuff for the keeper. Rickie for me still has a role to play but we need to fill that Osvaldo gap.

ItchenNorth added 13:34 - Feb 24
Bottom line is we don't have the strikers at the club for this system. Pochettino bought in Osvaldo for this very reason, but that didn't work out. Therefore we are stuck waiting for the summer transfer window to address this. With the return of Ramirez (and hopefully return to form for Lallana whos been a little quiet this last few games) we should be playing one up top; Jay Rod. Lambert can sit on the bench and be called upon if require but again, he must play the lead striker role and not this withdrawn role in the team. Until we get a striker or strikers who are willing to run off the shoulder of last defender and stretch teams; we can play as much football as we like but teams like West Ham WILL park the bus on us !

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