West Ham 3-1 Southampton
- Goals: Jarrod Bowen (£6.5m), Sébastien Haller (£6.8m), Michail Antonio (£6.9m)
- Assists: Pablo Fornals x2 (£6.0m), Antonio
- Bonus Points: Haller x3, Bowen x2, Antonio x1
An unreported injury for Danny Ings (£7.2m) added to increased frustration for Fantasy Premier League managers in Blank Gameweek 28.
The Southampton forward had some fitness problems this week, which Ralph Hasenhüttl failed to mention in his pre-deadline press conference, opting instead to reveal the news upon his arrival at the London Stadium.
As injuries to Jamie Vardy (£9.8m), Joe Gomez (£5.3m) and Naby Keïta (£5.8m) all went unreported by their respective managers, Fantasy enthusiasts may grow increasingly concerned about the disrespect being shown to the venerated institution of press conferences.
Ings’ injury was not bad enough for him to miss the game, Hasenhüttl including him on the bench, explaining that he would only emerge if needed.
“Danny (Ings) had problems during the week and I wasn’t sure if he would be able to make the bench. He trained yesterday for the first time. If I don’t need him I will leave him on the bench, but you never know.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
Needed he was, as Ings came onto the pitch with Southampton 2-1 down and, shortly after his arrival, West Ham added a third goal.
However, Southampton could not get the popular forward on the ball enough and in his 36-minute spell on the pitch, Ings managed just one shot on goal.
It was late in the game when James Ward-Prowse (£5.7m), filling in at right-back once again, found some space on the right and squared to Ings, whose shot was deflected inches past Lukasz Fabianski‘s (£4.9m) left-hand post.
While that was too little too late for Ings to make an impact on Blank Gameweek 28, the Southampton forward is likely to remain an important part of the so-called ‘template’ with Newcastle (home) and Norwich (away) his next two fixtures.
Fantasy managers will also be frustrated by Southampton’s defence, which is becoming increasingly perplexing to understand.
They came into Blank Gameweek 28 third-best for fewest shots conceded over the previous four Gameweeks, and stretching back to the last nine, only two clubs had secured more clean sheets than them (four).
Despite those encouraging statistics, Southampton were undone three times at West Ham. Particularly vulnerable to the counter-attack, the Saints conceded more shots than they were able to generate themselves, despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession.
West Ham’s new signing Jarrod Bowen (£6.5m), in for Robert Snodgrass (£5.3m) on the right of attacking midfield, got across Jan Bednarek (£4.4m) too easily in the first half, slotting past Alex McCarthy (£4.4m) after a through-ball from Pablo Fornals (£6.0m).
The Hammers should have made it 2-0 when Issa Diop (£4.3m) found enough space to head an Aaron Cresswell (£4.6m) corner wide of the mark later in the half, and they managed to get that second goal after some poor goalkeeping from McCarthy just before half-time.
Michail Antonio (£6.9m), shifted back to the left side of attacking midfield following the return of Sébastien Haller (£6.8m), played a looping ball into the box, which should have been easily collected by McCarthy. However, the goalkeeper allowed Haller to nip in with a headed touch to take it round him and even from a tight angle, West Ham’s centre-forward clipped the ball over the line.
Then, moments after Ings’ introduction, Fornals put Antonio one-one-one with McCarthy, the West Ham man slotting home coolly. He could have easily made it four on the hour-mark as he was played through on goal once more, this time denied by a decent McCarthy save.
However, much as is the case with Southampton’s attacking assets, defensive ones are likely to stick around with goal-shy Newcastle and Norwich up next for the Saints, especially as Hasenhüttl was so incensed by their most recent performance.
“I think we conceded goals that were an absolute joke. One long ball. We trained the whole week, we know what will come and cannot defend this ball. For me, simply not enough. If you want to take something you cannot give such simple goals. Simply not aggressive enough, not committed enough and if we play like this against a team that is in a relegation battle, then you are also very quickly back in the relegation battle, so pay attention.” – Ralph Hasenhuttl
Despite an impressive performance, West Ham assets may stay off the Fantasy radar for a little while longer, considering their upcoming fixtures. They face Arsenal (away), Wolves (home), Spurs (away) and Chelsea (home) between now and Gameweek 32 and could still be fixture-less in Blank Gameweek 31.
However, their schedule from Gameweek 33 onwards may cause some to place Antonio, Fornals or Haller on their watchlists for the season run-in.
“Some of their play… Seb and Michi were very good today. There are opportunities where we can play them together, there will be opportunities where we can’t. Sebastien grew into the game today. He got better as the game went on. As did Michi, who had a couple of chances early on as well. Both did a really good job today. They had been successful under Manuel up-front at Southampton so that had been in my mind.” – David Moyes
As already mentioned, Antonio was still a nuisance despite losing out on the centre-forward role, while Fornals has attacking returns in both of last two. Crucially,
However, it is hard to know what to expect from Snodgrass now that Bowen has arrived on the scene. The Scottish international was one of West Ham’s best performers in the spirited loss at Liverpool, and yet was benched against Southampton.
In his place, Bowen looked suitably exciting, living up to the hype as he scored the opening goal of the game. If he can nail down a place on the right-side of West Ham’s attacking midfield trio, Bowen should arguably be monitored too.
“Jarrod scored a great goal and it was similar to when he broke through against Alisson the other night and he saved with his head. For his opening full debut, he did very well.” – David Moyes
West Ham United XI (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Diop, Ngakia; Rice, Noble; Antonio, Fornals (Anderson 90+2′), Bowen (Snodgrass 78′); Haller.
Southampton XI (4-4-2): McCarthy; Bertrand, Bednarek, J Stephens, Ward-Prowse; Boufal (Ings 54′), Højbjerg, Smallbone (Romeu 78′), Armstrong; Obafemi (Vestergaard 68′), S Long.
BLANK GAMEWEEK 28 FPL MATCH REPORTS
- Norwich City 1-0 Leicester City
- Brighton and Hove Albion 0-1 Crystal Palace
- Bournemouth 2-2 Chelsea
- Newcastle United 0-0 Burnley
- West Ham United 3-1 Southampton
- Watford 3-0 Liverpool
- Everton 1-1 Manchester United
- Tottenham Hotspur 2-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
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