When we left West Ham three weeks ago to embark on an FA Cup weekend, then the international break, the London Stadium had been overrun by chaos. By pitch invaders, protests and a mass exodus. By one of the darkest days West Ham Football Club had experienced in a while.
Three weeks later, the Hammers were prepared. Off the pitch, and on it.
West Ham’s players rendered a beefed up security presence unnecessary with a 3-0 spanking of Southampton, the most consequential result of a busy Saturday down at the wrong end of the Premier League table.
Ten of the Prem’s bottom 11 were in action Saturday, and West Ham was one of only two to pick up three points. The other was Newcastle, meaning the mid-afternoon slate was a massive one for the Hammers and Magpies. West Ham charged up into 14th place from 17th, five points clear of the drop zone. It heaped pressure on the Saints.
And, perhaps unexpectedly, it did so in a bit of style.
West Ham 3-0 Southampton
All three goals were impressive. Joao Mario stung the opener past Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy after Cheikhou Kouyate led a break. The Portuguese midfielder then picked out Marko Arnautovic for the second.
Arnautovic, who would later walk off to a standing ovation from the home crowd, effectively put the game away before halftime with his second, and West Ham’s third.
Newcastle 1-0 Huddersfield
Newcastle dominated the Terriers, and finally got its just reward in the 80th minute. A selfless decision from Kenedy in the penalty box allowed Ayoze Perez to slide home the winner.
The win took the Magpies seven points clear of the bottom three, up above Brighton into 12th place. It should be enough to see them to safety, especially with others faltering.
Manchester United 2-0 Swansea
Swansea had the unenviable task of keeping pace with West Ham and Newcastle at Old Trafford. It couldn’t do so. Romelu Lukaku put the Swans in an early hole:
Jesse Lingard, whose fine form has seemingly earned him a regular place in the England team ahead of this summer’s World Cup, sprung Alexis Sanchez for United’s second, and the Red Devils coasted to victory.
Their victory kept Swansea in the thick of the relegation battle, just three points above 18th-place Southampton.
West Brom 1-2 Burnley
The Baggies continue to throw away significant portions of what little hope they still have. They were on the wrong end of an excellent Ashley Barnes goal in the first half at the Hawthorns:
They went 2-0 down to Chris Wood, and Salomon Rondon’s late consolation wasn’t enough to rescue the day.
The defeat left West Brom 10 points off 17th place with just six games remaining. Things are looking bleak. The Championship beckons.
– Crystal Palace coughed up a halftime lead, fell 2-1 to Mohamed Salah and Liverpool, and dropped into 17th place, just two points above the drop zone.
– Watford and Bournemouth, both sitting comfortably in mid-table, drew 2-2.
– Brighton, which came into the day six points above 18th, fell 2-0 at home to Leicester.
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