Southampton 1-3 West Ham United: Home side's early lead brushed aside by rampant Hammers

In a rare 3pm kick off at St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton hosted another mid-table side in West Ham United who were looking to make up for recent poor results. With both sides needing to keep themselves afloat from the relegation group, a hard-fought match looked to be at hand.

This wasn't the case however, after Manolo Gabbiadini's powerful opener it was the visitors who powered their way through the heart of the home side's defence.

Firstly, through Andy Carroll, and then Pedro Obiang whose 25-yard-screamer stunned the home support moments before the half-time whistle.

Skipper Mark Noble then compounded the loss on the 52nd minute as his free-kick took a wicked deflection off of Saints' own captain Steven Davis.

The result leaves Southampton slumping to an unrespectable 13th placed position, while the Hammers climb to just five points off 8th place - a far cry from their lethargic start to the season.

An explosive opening

Claude Puel shocked many Saints fans when it was announced that new-signing Gabbiadini would make his debut just days after joining the South coast side.

Opposing manager Slavan Bilic also handed out a debut to Robert Snodgrass, while he also kept ex-Saint Jose Fonte at the back.

It was clear from the beginning what direction the West Ham players had been given; trouble the red-and-white back line with lofted diagonals and crosses to Carroll.

However, on the 12th minute it was Jay Rodriguez' perfectly weighted over-the-top through ball that caught out Fonte and co. to find his new teammate on the left hand side, albeit against shouts of offside.

What was not contentious was Gabbiadini's finish, with real venom he struck home a sweet shot past the helpless Darren Randolph - possibly the best way to start your first game at a club.

Unfortunately those still reeling from the new frontman's beautiful opener were left to watch on as the away support celebrated a quick equaliser.

Without the presence of now-injured Virgil van Dijk, perhaps Southampton paid their price in not replacing him; Carroll was easily allowed time and space to slip in-between Jack Stephens and Maya Yoshida before slotting comfortably past Fraser Forster at his near post - even on his weaker right-foot.

Obiang also deserving of some credit for his frankly brilliant defence-splitting assist.

West Ham's pressure pays off

Southampton never recovered from the emotional damage of going in front only to concede it minutes later; West Ham latched onto any loose ball and even controlled the tempo of the game as they pushed men forward.

Where Bilic sacrificed pressure for defensive stability in the previous embarrassing loss at home to Manchester City, the same could not be said for this game. His front four worked tirelessly in shutting down Saints' defenders, only allowing them the long-option most of the time.

This mountain of pressure lead to the second goal, as Obiang now turned goal scorer for the away team - his only Hammers goal - on the 44th minute.

Picking up the ball in a similar spot to his first assist, the central-midfielder's lowly hit shot deflected slightly off Ryan Bertrand but the force was too much, even for Forster. It was just-rewards for a side who never looked like conceding after initially going 1-0 down - showing fight that has been lacking throughout the season as a whole.

Noble settles the game

At the half Rodriguez made way for Nathan Redmond, a change that made sense given the latter's comfortable nature on the left wing in comparison to the former's.

His entrance was greeted by a solid few minutes of pressure, in which James Ward-Prowse and Gabbiadini both saw opportunities to pull back level.

But it was West Ham's captain, Noble, who got the next goal just seven minutes into the second half to settle the tie once and for all.

On the face of it, a cruel way to bury the home team; his free-kick from the left side was delivered and Davis could only divert it backwards beyond his own keeper. Especially given Southampton's resurgence to start the half.

Although, as this campaign has shown on many occasions; if you can't score goals, you'd better hope your defence is up to the task of keeping a clean sheet.

In the case of today's loss this wasn't to be, the positioning of Saints' wall for the free-kick and even the line of offside will be troubling to look back on for Puel and his assistants.

Boufal's injury compounds defeat

Not only did the exiting of thousands of fans as the second half wore on seem worrying, an injury to Sofiane Boufal on the 63rd minuted epitomised the afternoon in its entirety.

One of the bright sparks in an away loss to Swansea, Boufal looked to be - along with Gabbiadini - one of the only outlets for midfielders and defenders alike; many attacking moves centred around his movement and skill.

Maybe if the Italian's sliced effort had the same effect as his opening strike just before Boufal's substitution, the ending would've been a bit less predictable.

As it goes, despite a barrage of pressure from the home side, West Ham's switch to a back five - as James Collins replaced Cheikhou Kouyate - for the last 20 minutes proved to kill off any attempt of a comeback, along with the countless chasing down from the likes of Snodgrass.

This happened to be the Hammers' first win at St. Mary's since its opening in 2001 and was a fine display, they'll be hoping to carry that form into their next fixture against West Brom.

For Southampton, this game will only go to highlight that if you sell quality you must replace. The acquisition of Gabbiadini seems perfect for the balance of the side; his ability to find space in front and even behind defenders is what the team needs.

But it begs the question: Why wasn't the transfer sorted in August? For 14 million this Italian has clearly replaced another, in the form of Graziano Pelle, and looks the part - like the now-Shandong striker did too.

With Fonte wanting out in the summer also, a new centre-back should've been on the radar for Les Reed. Instead, Puel now has to deal with no van Dijk for a suspected two to three months, while his replacements are not top-table standard.

Conceding five against Arsenal in the FA Cup, two at the Liberty Stadium and now another three at home to West Ham, it clearly goes to show the problems Saints face in the coming weeks ahead of their EFL Cup final.