David Moyes’ West Ham United side crashed out of the FA Cup on Wednesday evening, with Southampton running out comfortable 3-1 winners at St. Mary’s Stadium.
However, with the Hammers still well in contention for a top-four finish in the Premier League this season, as well as participating in the knockout stages of the Europa League, the 58-year-old manager may be quietly pleased that his side now have one less competition to compete in over the remainder of the current campaign.
Having said that, considering the starting XI the Scot fielded, perhaps this is a slightly naive take, as, aside from Issa Diop’s start ahead of Aaron Cresswell on the left of the Irons’ back three, the West Ham lineup was as strong as it could have possibly been on Wednesday night.
And, when taking into account the fact that Ralph Hasenhuttl made nine changes from the side that defeated Norwich City last Friday, the manner of the loss is sure to have disappointed Moyes – as will the performances of a number of his players, with Jarrod Bowen, Said Benrahma and Craig Dawson all having games to forget on the South Coast.
However, it will undoubtedly be the latter of this trio most frustrated with his display, as the 31-year-old centre-back had something of a nightmare on Wednesday evening.
Indeed, over the course of his 90 minutes on the pitch, Dawson endured an extremely torrid time on the right of West Ham’s back three, with Armando Broja, Moussa Djenepo and Romain Perraud running riot down Southampton’s left flank.
In terms of his personal statistics from the game, the £2.7m-rated defender was rather wasteful in possession, completing just 34 of his 44 attempted passes, finding his man with only four of his 11 attempted long balls and ceding possession of the ball on 14 separate occasions.
In a defensive capacity, the £52k-per-week centre-back also had something of a shocker, committing the foul on Broja which saw James Ward-Prowse restore Southampton’s lead from the spot, as well as being beaten by an opponent once and losing eight of his 13 duels – a failure rate of 62%.
These returns saw the player who Roshane Thomas once dubbed “shaky” earn an extremely disappointing SofaScore match rating of just 5.9 – with no player from either side receiving a lower rating than the former England U21 international.
As such, while hindsight is a wonderful thing, considering the below-par performance from a number of his first-team regulars, in addition to the Hammers’ hectic fixture schedule, exactly why Moyes did not choose to hand a valuable senior start to the likes of Aji Alese, Pierre Ekwah, Dan Chesters, Armstrong Oko-Flex and Sonny Perkins – all of whom were on the bench – on Wednesday night does appear a rather strange move.
Indeed, the performance of Dawson – who it is certain would have appreciated a rest against Southampton – only further proves that Moyes got his team selection wrong for the cup clash – something that could well come back to haunt the Irons both at Liverpool this weekend and Sevilla next week.