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West Ham eye top ten finish after beating Saints

GOOD TIMES: Ryan Fredericks (second left) is mobbed by team-mates after his goal

WEST HAM retained their hopes of a top-10 finish as a Marko Arnautovic brace and Ryan Fredericks’ first Premier League goal of the season saw off Southampton.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side were ahead as early as the 16th minute but still the result did not accurately reflect the balance of play.

In fact, Arnautovic’s second, on 69 minutes, came at a time when Southampton were on top.

Fredericks’ goal a further three minutes later effectively ensured it was game over.

Manuel Pellegrini admitted pre-match that his side’s inconsistent efforts this term have not been good enough and lamented the fact that they have not challenged for Europe.

More results of this nature might have helped; and Arnautovic’s first goal demonstrated how good West Ham can be in those moments when they click.

Yan Valery’s pass to no one in particular gifted possession to Mark Noble in the middle of the pitch and the West Ham captain threaded the ball through to the advancing Austrian, who never looked like missing.

Southampton are Arnautovic’s favourite Premier League opponents, and in slipping the ball beyond Fraser Forster he claimed his fourth goal against the Saints - more than against any other team.

That became five when Forster came to meet a cross from the left but merely succeeded in deflecting the ball on to the arm of the lurking Arnautovic, who watched the ball loop up before applying the headed finish. His first goal was neat and the second was born of opportunism.

For the third goal, Fredericks profitted from a quick one-two with second half substitute Jack Wilshere and a spot of luck that saw the ball fall back into his path. He applied the low finish to ensure back to back West Ham victories for only the second time this term.

It was harsh on Southampton and Hasenhuttl but ultimately of little consequence. Hasenhuttl has won 29 points in his 22 games at the helm and will no doubt be engaged in preparations for the summer and another season in the top flight.

The Southampton first-team coach made four changes to the side that secured a point and Premier League survival at Bournemouth last weekend, with Forster coming in for his first appearance of the season.

Another of those changes, Stuart Armstrong, was behind much of the visitors’ good work in the first period but West Ham were seldom troubled and Forster was the busier goalkeeper.

The match was better than the typical end of season fare and Hasenhuttl’s replacement of the subdued Danny Ings for Nathan Redmond after the interval gave the visitors a sense of urgency and threat that never quite translated into an equaliser, even if it kept West Ham on their toes.

Redmond linked well with his teammates and found dangerous positions on a number of occasions but it was West Ham who would have the final say.

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