West Ham United 3-0 Southampton FC: Arnautović brace helps the Hammers stay in top half race
(Photo: Getty Images - Marc Atkins)

After beating their biggest league rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, last weekend, West Ham United were yet again looking to close in on Watford and Leicester City while chasing a top half finish.

Meanwhile their visitors Southampton, after being in a bit of a stagnation after winning only one of their last 5 games, hoped to take revenge on the Hammers for their loss earlier in the season.

Marko Arnautović opened the scoring after 15 minutes which was his first goal of the season and also extended his side's lead in the second half, before Ryan Fredericks ultimately set the scoreline of the game.

Story of the game

From the start the game looked like a typical end-of-the-season matchup. The first 15 minutes contained a lot of sloppy passes and giveaways with neither side making a real threat.

Closest came West Ham after a good one-two between Arnautovic and Grady Diangana freed the young winger on the edge of the box, but his shot was blocked.

Mohammed Elyonoussi then tried a FIFA Street-esque shot as he flicked the ball up over Issa Diop and tried catching it on a volley, but missed the goal by a big margin.

West Ham instantly replied, and this time it was deadly.

Mark Noble intercepted a bad giveaway from Yann Valery, freed Arnautović with a perfect through ball who then scored with his weak foot past Fraser Forster.

Very nicely taken, and deservedly so as well.

And as expected, the Hammers gained confidence off of that goal.

Arthur Masuaku brilliantly dribbled past Valery, laid it off to Manuel Lanzini, who managed to smartly skip past Jack Stephens and unleash a rocket going straight into the top corner of the net, but Forster managed to palm it away.

And it continued to be all West Ham.

On the half-hour mark a brilliant passing play put Ryan Fredericks clear on the wing, his step inside led to a smart patient play from the Hammers, before Michail Antonio smashed the ball towards Forster from 20-yards-out, straight into the keepers' hands.

Nearing the end of the half Southampton managed to regain a bit of possession, but only as far as getting corners or being stopped by West Ham's defense, causing zero threat to Łukasz Fabiański.

In the last seconds of the half the Hammers had the chance to extend their lead but Antonio's low shot had been saved by Forster, yet again.

The sides came from half time with only one change. Nathan Redmond replacing ineffective Danny Ings.

And the Englishman was instantly involved in action. Inside the first 15 seconds he's had the chance to equalise but his shot from inside the box was blocked by Fabian Balbuena and turned away for a corner.

It was all Southampton, with Redmond being very much involved in the play.

Following another corner for the Saints on the 50th minute mark, the ball fallen to the winger who's tried smashing it past Fabiański from a difficult angle, but his effort was yet again blocked, this time by both Fredericks and Antonio.

The next 15 minutes were yet again a show of passing and sloppiness, without any clear opportunities for either of sides.

In the 66th minute a huge penalty shout for Southampton was waved off by Stuart Attwell as Shane Long had taken too long to release a shot and then felt like he was fouled by Fredericks who was coming in to block the shot.

And straight after the chance West Ham had their own to score a second goal through Lanzini. A good pass from Masuaku released Antonio on the wing who managed to find the Argentinian in the box but he unsuccessfully tried catching Forster at his near post.

Minutes later Arnautović got his second of the game. Smart play from Masuaku left Mario Lemina behind, as the former France U19 wing-back whipped in a great cross that only found Forster, but the keepers' punch hit the Austrian forward in the head, before falling gladly for him to tap it in from a yard out.

Before Southampton even had the chance to reorganise, the Hammers extended the lead yet again.

Good play between substitute Jack Wilshere and Fredericks released the right-back into the box, and he managed to beat Saints' keeper with a very good shot into the far corner, which ultimately was the killer for the visitors as they only fell even more behind.

A great breakaway from West Ham's Lucas Perez set-up Arnautović for his hat-trick, but he unfortunately not managed to put the ball into the back of the net this time as it just fizzed past the post.

The last chance of the game fell to West Ham as Wilshere tried setting up Lanzini who was in acres of space on the edge of the box, but unfortunately put too much power into it and skied his effort.


End of selection problems

It's been a year fulled with injuries for Manuel Pellegrini, as his West Ham side had on average seven players out injured. Yes, seven. Now the number came back to only three with Andy Carroll, Winston Reid and Andriy Yarmolenko, with the last two being bound to come back for the pre-season. And the Chilean will hope that Wilshere, Carlos Sanchez and Manuel Lanzini will be available for him for the most, if not for the whole of 2019/20 campaign.

Main threat's form rediscovered

Marko Arnautovic must be happy with himself, as he's ending a very frustrating 2019 on a high note. After scoring twice against Brighton in January, the Austrian's form nose-dived thanks to a mix of injuries, and an apparent interest from China. Fortunately for the Hammers, their main forward is back on form with two goals and an assist in the last two games.

Man Of The Match

In the absence of Declan Rice and Robert Snodgrass, Mark "Mr. West Ham" Noble had to takeover the main duties in midfield, and he's done so brilliantly. His pressing play allowed Pedro Obiang and Lanzini to have the freedom to roam up and down the pitch throughout the game, which worked for West Ham's advantage. Also, that assist for Arnautovic's first goal only summed up what's been an amazing display from the skipper.