West Ham 3-0 Southampton
Goals: Marko Arnautovic x2 (£6.7m), Ryan Fredericks (£4.5m)
Assists: Mark Noble (£4.8m), Arthur Masuaku (£4.2m), Jack Wilshere (£4.8m)
Bonus: Arnautovic x3, Fredericks x2, Issa Diop x1 (£4.2m)
Southampton assets endured a rotten audition for the final day of the season as they lost 3-0 at West Ham. The Saints have been targetted for investment in Gameweek 38 as they are the only side remaining yet to host Huddersfield Town in 2018/19. However, on the basis of this performance, their Fantasy options may find it hard to live up to their form of recent weeks – and let’s not forget the Terriers’ spirited display against Manchester United on Sunday.
Ralph Hasenhüttl followed through on his promises of rotation leaving Nathan Redmond (£5.4m) and James Ward-Prowse (£5.1m) on the bench to experiment with a traditional 4-4-2 formation that saw Stuart Armstrong (£5.1m) and forgotten man Mohamed Elyounoussi (£6.0m) on the flanks of midfield. Furthermore, Angus Gunn (£4.3m) watched from the sidelines as Fraser Forster (£4.2m) got his first start since the 5-2 defeat to Spurs on Boxing Day 2017, 494 days previously.
While Redmond failed to start the match, he did offer some hope for next week as he made an impact replacing Danny Ings (£5.4m) at half-time. Despite playing just 45 minutes, the Southampton midfielder finished the match joint-top for shots in the box and given how poor the Saints were without him, should come back into the starting line-up for Gameweek 38.
What will be of some concern for Fantasy managers invested in Southampton was Hasenhüttl’s comments about the manner of the defeat. The Saints were quiet in the opening period, the pairing of Ings with Shane Long (£4.7m) offering little, before a resurgence in the second half was cut short by two quick-fire goals in the 69th and 72nd minute. Their manager cited the exertions of recent weeks as the reason for their poor performance, and with little riding on Sunday’s visit of Huddersfield, there are fears that Southampton are now ‘on the beach’ so to speak.
“The last, very hard four or five months has cost us a lot of energy for this team and we didn’t have enough energy to fight back after a horrible mistake in the first half. We tried but the team has invested a lot in trying to stay in the league and the power was a little bit gone. We had a few good chances but it was [the case that] the last good decision in front of goal,t the power to score wasn’t here – I think the concentration wasn’t 100%. If you come here in a tough game after investing a lot in the last weeks and concede the first goal it takes a lot of energy to fight back. We didn’t have that today.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
However, the other way of looking at Hasenhüttl’s admission is that Southampton will now have a point to prove in their final game of the season, which will take place in front of their own fans. The Saints manager has already committed to putting on a better display in Gameweek 38.
“The target is to end in the best way possible, getting the energy back and mentally being ready to finish the season with a good win. It would be a good ending to this season if we can do that against Huddersfield.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
The shortfalls of Southampton’s defence were laid bare once again, with those invested in budget-man Yan Valery (£4.1m) still waiting for his first defensive returns since Gameweek 32. The Saints have now conceded three times in three of their last four matches, the two most recent featuring failed switches to a four-man defence. They have admittedly been enforced with injuries to Jannik Vestergaard (£4.6m) and Maya Yoshida (£4.1m), but it is clear that they fare better with a three-man back-line.
Southampton’s defensive issues allowed Marko Arnautovic (£6.7m) to score his first goals since January when he netted a brace against Brighton. Having started the last three matches in a row, the Austrian may be back to the form he demonstrated in the early part of the season. He assisted Michail Antonio‘s (£6.8m) winner against Spurs in Gameweek 36 and was the primary goal threat against Southampton. In fact, the Saints have become one of his favourite sides to face. He now has four strikes in two games at the London Stadium against them and has put more Premier League goals past them than any other club (five).
“We hope (Arnautovic is back to his best). With this team, with Marko, a complete season that is quiet, calm and just playing football I think it is a player who makes a difference. Last season, for different reasons, he started bad but after that he demonstrated what he can do. This season, exactly the same, when he was mentally involved he played the same and made the difference and I hope that next season, he will be involved in doing a complete season. I am sure this season for him will have been a good lesson, he learned some things and I am absolutely convinced next season we will see a great Marko.” – Manuel Pellegrini
Also of note, was the fact that West Ham kept a clean sheet and now have back-to-back shutouts in the Premier League for the first time this season. It also marked just the second time in 2018/19 that they kept out a side outside the top six at home. As already mentioned, Southampton’s slightly experimental line-up probably contributed to the clean sheet but West Ham are the only club so far in Gameweek 37 to have two players score 11 or higher for Clearances, Blocks and Interceptions (CBI), namely Issa Diop (£4.2m) and Fabian Balbuena (£4.2m).
“It is an issue that we still must continue improving, we have conceded too many goals for me this season. As you said, we are able to do it two games in a row so it is a matter of concentration and intensity. Not just the defenders, for the whole team. When we don’t have the ball we must be in a position to recover, with a high pace and when we have the ball we need to play. That is why I think we have been a consistent team these last four games.” – Manuel Pellegrini
The fact that West Ham were able to comfortably cruise to a 3-0 win was made all the more impressive given who was absent. Declan Rice (£4.5m) and Felipe Anderson (£6.9m) were both missing through illness, while Robert Snodgrass (£5.0m) had to sit out through suspension.
“Well, I did that because we had two players sick with Declan Rice and Felipe Anderson who couldn’t play. The other rotation was for Robert Snodgrass who had a one-game ban so we were forced.” – Manuel Pellegrini
That allowed some fringe players and others coming back from injury to get involved. Jack Wilshere (£4.8m) came on for Grady Diangana (£4.5m) in the second half and got himself an assist for Ryan Fredericks‘ (£4.5m) first-ever Premier League goal. Carlos Sánchez (£4.3m) also got some game-time, 12 minutes in the place of Mark Noble (£4.8m) his first involvement since Gameweek 6.
“Today I thought Pedro Obiang had a good game, Carlos Sanchez came on after so long to play minutes, Jack Wilshere demonstrated how good he is as a player, he played well so I am happy with the squad.” – Manuel Pellegrini
West Ham United XI (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Masuaku, Diop, Balbuena, Fredericks; Noble (C Sánchez 78′), Obiang; Antonio, Lanzini (L Pérez 83′), Diangana (Wilshere 68′); Arnautovic.
Southampton XI (4-4-2): Forster; Bertrand, J Stephens, Bednarek, Valery; Elyounoussi, Højbjerg, Lemina (Romeu 75′), Armstrong (Ward-Prowse 67′); Ings (Redmond 45′), Long.