Forty-five minutes. Three goals. Three points. It was a dominant opening period from West Ham United when they faced Southampton on Saturday and one which fully merited the vital victory which came David Moyes’ way.
Not before Saturday had the Hammers enjoyed such a devastating opening period at London Stadium. In fact, they had not scored three first half goals in a Premier League game since Kevin Nolan, Winston Reid and Matt Taylor fired in three against Fulham back in September 2012.
The three goals which downed Southampton were the reflection of a 45-minute spell in which the Hammers enjoyed total dominance by every measure of the play.
West Ham held 58.1 percent of the ball before half-time, making their possession count by taking the play into attacking areas far more effectively than their hosts.
Whereas Mark Hughes’ side only had two touches in the opposition penalty area in the opening period, West Ham had 14.
The Hammers also delivered ten crosses in open play – two of which, from Joao Mario and Arthur Masuaku, resulted in goals – to the Saints’ three, and that from a visiting side which looked set up to attack down the flanks with Nathan Redmond and Dusan Tadic stationed wide.
Most tellingly, West Ham had nine shots on goal during that first 45 minutes with four on target. Southampton forced none, either on or off target.
The net result was the three-goal lead which afforded the Hammers the luxury of a comfortable second half in which, although Southampton offered more threat, they were still unable to threaten Joe Hart in the home goal.
Marko Arnautovic was a menace throughout, having a match-leading six shots on goal, as he took his tally for the season to nine and within touching distance of his career-best haul of eleven.
It wasn’t just in the attacking third that the game was won. West Ham also displayed a great hunger and intensity in the opening stages, forcing turnovers in possession from Mario Lemina and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg which led to the first two goals.
That sharpness saw West Ham complete 16 interceptions over the 90 minutes, with four in Southampton territory. That compared to nine for the visitors, and just one in the West Ham half. It all pointed to the result the Hammers got – three vital points.