So West Ham’s winless run of games away from East London goes on. It’s six months now since the travelling band of ‘Apless ‘Ammers returned home with a three point haul and they rarely looked like ending that dismal run at St Mary’s. A point gained at Southampton however is a bit of a coupon-buster in itself, given the Irons’ current poverty of goals, meaning that a clean sheet is usually a must to avoid defeat. Today’s shut-out was owed massively to inspired keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen who pulled off several fantastic saves to help keep his side in the contest. At the other end, the Hammers had to wait until late on for a decent chance to add to their paltry output of TWO league goals so far this season. Sadly, when the chance came, it fell to defender James Collins whose finish could charitably be described as wayward. As the ball ballooned over the bar from Collins’ wild swipe, it was obvious that a much-needed victory was not to be.
The fact is, though that, while the Hammers have scored only two goals all season, they have conceded only one. This grim fare is not the kind of thing that older devotees of the one-time “Academy of Football” were brought up on, but if you don’t let goals in – you don’t lose. A good few victories will be needed, however, to add to a bland diet of dull draws if the Hammers are to survive for another year at this exalted level. Where the goals will come from to provide those victories, with battering-ram Andy Carroll seemingly as injury-prone as Captain Scarlet, is somewhat of a vexed question.
Sam Allardyce divided his time after the match between praising his defence, moaning about a red card not issued to the Saints’ allegedly sinful Morgan Schneiderlin and proclaiming his happiness with a point – despite a forbidding run of fixtures coming up. West Ham have the air of a club about to suffer from a nasty case of second-season syndrome; if they fail to address their striking deficiencies this will pile far too much pressure of a defence that creaked but did not yield today. Whether worried fans of an East End persuasion can hope to rely on that holding true in the tests ahead must be open to some doubt. With due respect to Southampton, it is in fixtures like these that the Hammers must seek their survival points. The major players in the division are likely to roll over them without undue difficulty, so if the Hammers fail to benefit from the dog-eat-dog mentality of the league’s lower reaches they may well find that they’re dropping back over the fateful edge of that dreaded precipice and back into the Championship come next May.