I saw an ink jet printer on sale the other day. $49. Epson. They make good stuff for sure. And this one would work directly with an IPad, using the AirPrint feature. Really convenient for my daughter to use for homework. Now she writes her papers and emails them to either my wife or myself so we can print from the computer. It’s not that the email system doesn’t work. It does. It’s just not the most convenient way to do it. Then again, it doesn’t require that much effort either. Here was the kicker. The ink was pricey. And the price per page was about 5 times as much as the laser printer we already have. It’s old, a bit quirky, but 99% of the time works just fine. I didn’t need the printer. I may have wanted the printer, but that’s usually a bad reason to shell out what could have ended up being a lot of money over the long term.
Kind of like Charlie Austin.
I saw the table. I saw that Saints were right behind us, and despite a wobbly start to the season they have steadied the ship. Back in December we were lucky to have a chance in the second half to overcome being 0-1 down and snatch all three points. But because of what David Sullivan said on the KUMB podcast a few months ago and the firestorm it created, Charlie Austin was the story today. And unlike so many on social media, I wouldn’t have taken a risk on him. 4 million in today’s market is like the $49 printer. But his reported wages with the added injury record were the ink. He didn’t factor in today’s result, which must be seen as a disappointment under the circumstances.
The opening 12 minutes gave the impression only one side figured playing football was a good idea, and West Ham weren’t that side. In the 2nd minute, Long won a corner off of Reid chasing down a long through ball. The corner was cleared, but Southampton’s pressing kept the field of play tilted towards Adrian.
Alex Song has complained about the protective eyewear he’s used, saying it interferes with his vision of the play around him. Likely because they don’t have little wipers on them, he removed them in the driving rain. It didn’t help him see Mane running at him in the 8th minute, and he lost possession. The ball made it down the left to Bertrand who looped a cross into the box. Cedric got to the ball and forced a superb save from Adrian. The ensuing corner was cleared, but not well enough to prevent Mane from starting another attack. He fed Wanyama on the right side of the West Ham penalty area. Wanyama then slid a low cross into the box towards Yoshida. The ball looked like it took a slight deflection before the Japanese fullback put it past Adrian and into the back of the net.
Southampton 1, West Ham 0.
The Saints kept up the pressure, and in the 12th minute knocked on the door again. After a good run by van Dijk, the ball went to Cedric on the left, who then whipped a cross into the box towards Pelle, but his header went out for a goal kick.
West Ham were finally able to keep some possession, which was helpful if for no other reason than giving me a break from looking up the spelling of all the Southampton players. In the 18th minute Noble and Moses linked up outside the Southampton penalty area to set Moses up for a long-range effort. The shot took a deflection and bounced harmlessly into Foster’s arms.
West Ham had what turned out to be their best chance of the match in the 29th minute when Payet took a free kick from the left side of the Southampton penalty area. He whipped the ball into the area and Reid made contact at full speed, directing it towards the goal. At first it looked like a world-class reflex save from Foster. On the replay it looked like, ohhh, maybe a European class save as opposed to the whole damn world because the shot was closer to his body than it originally looked. I’m probably splitting hairs here out of spite and frustration. Good save. Leave it at that.
West Ham enjoyed the better part of possession for the rest of the opening forty-five minutes, but not a soul made a run into the box so the Southampton defenders didn’t have too much to worry about. Moses won a corner, Noble sprayed passes around, and Valencia ran. He didn’t run anywhere in particular, but he did in fact run. Kind of like Forrest Gump.
Halftime. Southampton 1, West Ham 0.
The second half started much like the first half ended, with West Ham having quite a lot of time on the ball but wasting much of it. Valencia earned a free kick in the 51st minute when he was yanked back by Yoshida, but nothing came of it. Then Noble found Forrest Valencia running into the box but his low shot was no trouble for Foster.
I had a season ticket to the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League for over twenty years. It is common knowledge and practice in the NHL for teams to have a player whose job it is to be physical. Either against the opponents similar physical player, or in some devious instances against the opponents most skillful player. We called that player a Goon. But in hockey, the penalty to a goon for even breaking a skilled players wrist might only be a two-minute penalty. You have to wonder if this hockey concept has been adopted by our opponents when it comes to Payet. In the 54th minute, Wanyama chased down Payet after losing the ball and cut him down at both ankles. Unlike McCarthy, the Everton Goon, the Southampton Goon saw red and the Saints were down to ten men.
Koeman switched from the back three he employed at the beginning of the match to a back five. Considering the difficulty West Ham have had at times playing against ten men, that looked a prudent move from the friendlier version of Van Gaal. He also replaced Mane, who had been stellar in the first half, with Romeu. Bilic was going to respond with Carroll making his return for Moses, but an injury to Tomkins forced him into a double switch, adding Byram to the mix.
Moments after the double Hammer switch, there was a real goal scoring opportunity. For Southampton. A long ball from Foster got caught up in the blustery wind and rain, fooling Collins. It dropped behind him, allowing Long to run onto it and attempt a curling left footed shot that just missed.
In the 73rd minute, both sides made another substitution. Ink Jet Austin came on for Pelle, and new signing Emineke came on for Antonio. The narrative seemed set up for one of those two to deliver the next big moment in the match. And a minute later, it looked like the latter was about to when Valencia found Emineke in front of goal with a cross that the Nigerian headed just wide.
West Ham kept possession of the ball, over 80% actually, but did very little with it. Cresswell tried to find Carroll with a cross in the 76th minute but missed. Emineke chested the ball down to Song near the top of the box, but his shot looked roughly the same pace as a Sunday Leaguer. Then, with Byram wide open on the right to receive a pass and possibly deliver a cross into the box, Valencia took a shot that would have made Zarate look like a model of selflessness, sailing miles over Foster. In fact, for all of the time on the ball, the best chance of the final ten minutes came when Romeu fed Austin on the right side of the West Ham box with a perfectly weighted through ball but his shot went wide.
West Ham were almost gifted an equalizer in injury time when Valencia sent a cross into the box. Cedric tried to clear, but his clearance came back across the face of goal. Foster raced Emineke to it, and the slow keeper won the footrace and cleared the ball out for a corner.
Final Score. Southampton 1, West Ham 0.
In retrospect, Southampton had been playing well of late. We hadn’t won at St. Mary’s in seven attempts. And defending for your life after going down a man is a reasonable move by any team that has the lead. But it felt like too many West Ham players were off their game, particularly Valencia and Moses. Payet was only average. Slaven Bilic is probably deserving of some criticism as well for his tactics, particularly after the red card. We had two strikers out there and passed the ball around the top of the box like we were holding a lead. It was, all in all, a disappointing and frustrating afternoon.
I guess it’s a sign of progress to be frustrated at such things as opposed to expecting them.
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