Southampton battered and bruised the visiting back line all afternoon in the rain and wet, but could not find a way through as the two sides played to a 0-0 draw at St. Mary’s on Sunday.
The Saints came oh-so-close on numerous occasions, but the experienced Jussi Jaaskelainen denied them time and time again to earn a point for West Ham. Adam Lallana, Pablo Osvaldo, and Morgan Schneiderlin all impressed in front of their home fans but it was the 39-year-old keeper’s day.
West Ham begun by pressing the midfield and it worked for the first 10 minutes, not allowing Southampton to build a single play into the attacking third. It only took the Saints until after those first 10 minutes, however, to settle in and begin to piece together attacks.
New striker Osvaldo had the first real chance of the game, and most certainly should have scored. Jay Rodriguez worked the ball down the left edge of the box before cutting it back into the middle of the penalty area, where Osvaldo was waiting. The Italian pounced with tons of space, but he struck his shot into the dead center of the net, and Jaaskelainen stood strong to save.
The wet pitch played a part as well in the 23rd minute as two West Ham defenders slipped and gave Rickie Lambert a chance. The English international touched to Osvaldo and then found space, and when Osvaldo passed it back he had an opening, but his shot towards the bottom left corner was weak and Jaaskelainen saved well again.
Southampton’s passing became more and more precise as the game built on, and it began to dishearten the West Ham midfield. A silly foul out of clear frustration brought out the game’s first yellow card to Mohamed Diame in the 29th minute.
Things got a bit chippy before halftime, with Schneiderlin making a very hard, possibly studs-up challenge on Diame that angered West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, but referee Andre Marriner refused to show him any discipline. A dangerous free kick for the Saints a few minutes later resulted in obvious offsides but the linesman failed to call it as Rodriguez’s header flashed over.
The second half proved just as physical as the first. Victor Wanyama fired a venomous shot from long range in the first five minutes of the period, but Jaaskelanian parried it over.
Southampton again had a glorious chance go awry when Osvaldo threaded through Lallana all on his own, but the midfielder’s first touch was too heavy and Jaaskelanian collected. Minutes later Rickie Lambert rattled the post with a header off a corner.
Southampton got acrobatic in the 61st minute as they searched for the opener. Rickie Lambert fired a long ball forward for Jay Rodriguez on the right edge. The 24-year-old Englishman then cut it back for Osvaldo whose original shot was blocked. The ball popped up in the air, and Schneiderlin attempted a bicycle kick which was on target but only found Winston Reid’s head as he nudged it over the bar.
A yellow for Joey O’Brien in the 70th minute for a tackle from behind brought the teams towards their boiling points, but again referee Marriner let the offender off relatively easy.
James Collins nearly grabbed three sneaky points for the visitors in a moment of chaos in the Southampton box on the 84th minute. The only bit of real West Ham pressure in the entire match saw the ball fall to Collins with acres of space but he blasted it well over.
The draw means Southampton’s impressive yet frustrating start to the campaign continues. They have looked a quality team in all three of their previous matches, one each of a win draw and loss, but the results are clearly varied. For West Ham, it’s a key point but they looked to lack any kind of stake in the game and going forward that may not fly against more consistent sides.
Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Lovern, Shaw (Chambers, 77′); Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Lallana (Ward-Prowse, 72′); Rodriguez, Osvaldo, Lambert.
West Ham United: Jaaskelainen; Demel (Rat, 62′), Collins, Reid, O’Brien; Diame, Noble, Nolan, Jarvis, Morrison (Taylor, 77′); Maiga (Vaz Te, 68′).