Southampton made it four consecutive wins across all competitions after comfortably dispatching a struggling West Ham side at the Olympic Stadium.
It was in-form man Charlie Austin who opened the scoring with the game’s first shot on target for his fifth goal in four consecutive games. The striker then turned provider with his clever ball through the defence setting up Dusan Tadić to double the lead.
The home side managed to mount some pressure on the Saints’ defence with a few good chances created, but ultimately none could be fired home. Simultaneously the visitors looked dangerous on the counter and James Ward-Prowse was able to grab a goal late to wrap up proceedings.
Hammers are struggling
This loss sees West Ham finish the round in 18th place on the table with just one win so far in 2016-17. Slaven Bilić is facing mounting pressure after his side have failed to come to life in the current campaign and look drastically different to the confident and convincing squad from last season.
The forward line seems to be in particularly poor form with seven goals scored in the Premier League, not one coming from a striker. Michail Antonio has an impressive five, while Dimitri Payet and James Collins have one apiece.
The defence has performed similarly poorly, keeping just one clean sheet in the campaign so far while conceding at a rate of 2.66 goals per game. Players have been out of form and there have been injuries, but Bilić is in dire need of points if he is able to turn the season around with European competition also a concern.
Southampton playing with confidence
It was not long ago that problems were starting to arise after the Saints opened the season with four poor results. Two losses and two draws was a disappointing return from a team that were aspiring to cement themselves as top-half mainstays.
Claude Puel’s side have since won four consecutive fixtures in the Europa League, Premier League and EFL Cup. Similarly to the South Coast club’s winning streak has been the goal scoring streak of Austin, who has netted in all of the Southampton wins so far in 2016-17.
The turnaround of fortune for the Saints can give hope to West Ham who face similar pressure, but also have the quality in the squad to lift.
Puel’s team now go onto face Israeli club Hapoel Be’er Sheva FC in the UEL midweek, before returning to Premier League action against current champions Leicester City.
Despite the controversy over the initial decision to anoint West Ham as the next tenants of the Olympic Stadium, it is looking to be a move that has at least been supported by crowd numbers.
Upton Park managed an average crowd last season of 34,911, a near sell-out in every single home fixture for the Hammers. So far at the London Stadium attendances have averaged at 56,938 for the three matches.
If nothing else the move is justified for the simple need to support a larger crowd, with crowds boosted by more than 20,000 despite the club’s poor start to 2016-17.