Pablo Fornals has admitted to West Ham TV he expected Southampton to try and frustrate Michail Antonio and produce a good defensive performance to stop David Moyes’ side.
The Hammers played out a goalless stalemate with the Saints at St Mary’s on Saturday to maintain their unbeaten start. West Ham also continue to hold one of the Premier League’s most-prolific records after scoring 10 goals over their opening three fixtures to the season.
Moyes’ men could not add to their tally in game four, as Southampton produced a strong defensive show. Their style limited Antonio, who played a key role in holding the ball up. He also came close to opening the scoring late on when Alex McCarthy held his low drive.
Fornals believes Southampton had to play with their backs to the wall to limit West Ham and silence Antonio. Noting that all Premier League clubs know what the Irons are about, how Moyes’ side operates and how much of a threat the £70k-a-week striker is.
“Everyone and every team plays with their arms, and they know how we play and how good Mikey is. So, they had to stop us, and they did it really well defending,” Fornals said.
“I think it was a boring game for the people who watched it with not many chances until the end. But football is football, we got one point and we have to be proud of that.”
Fornals shares blueprint to how Southampton silenced West Ham’s POTM Antonio
Moyes will hope other sides do not replicate Southampton’s blueprint and silence Antonio to the same degree, after Fornals admitted clubs know how to stop West Ham performing.
Antonio is crucial to the Irons’ system and Moyes will be scratching his head for solutions after his red card. After scoring four goals and providing three assists over their previous three Premier League games, he marked appearance four of the season with a sending off.
David Coote brandished a second yellow in the fifth-minute of second-half stoppage-time for a rash challenge on Moussa Djenepo. Antonio was already on a caution for an incident with Saints defender Jack Stephens earlier in the second period.
Not the way Antonio, nor West Ham, wanted to celebrate the striker winning the August Player of the Month award. And will now have to face Manchester United on Sunday without their only recognised senior centre-forward.