West Ham may not have many positives to take from their away defeat to Southampton. Having been thrashed 4-0 by Manchester United last weekend, the Hammers were on the road again as the London Stadium hosts an athletics competition, but there were not many more positives on show, other than Javier Hernandez.
New signing Marko Arnautovic saw red for a foolish and needless elbow on Saints defender Jack Stephens, while another summer signing Pablo Zabaleta conceded a 93rd minute penalty to allow Charlie Austin to score the winner.
However, West Ham were only back in the tie because of one man as Javier Hernandez showed exactly why the Irons were so keen to sign him. The Mexican scored two goals to bring his side back level, both showing a real natural poacher’s instinct that has been severely lacking in Slaven Bilic’s side.
On both occasions, the forward burst in at pace at the last moment to pounce upon a loose rebound in the box before firing the ball into the back of the net to celebrate his return to the Premier League.
The second goal was clearly the most enjoyable as the ten men of West Ham fought back level, with Hernandez celebrating in passionate style, crossing his arms to make the “irons” gesture used by the club’s fans.
The number 17 was also a crucial creative outlet and often looked to turn provider. Often found dropping deep or wide onto the left, particularly after the introduction of Diafra Sakho, Hernandez produced two key passes and also completed three of his five attempted crosses, with only full-back Aaron Cresswell attempting more.
His work rate was crucial with the Hammers a man down and will undoubtedly have endeared him to the travelling fans and boss Slaven Bilic almost as much as his crucial goals.
West Ham are clearly still missing a few pieces of their jigsaw, seven goals conceded in two games shows that, but Hernandez really does look like the real deal in terms of the poacher and goal-getter that they have been crying out for.