David Hautzig's Match Report

Manchester United 2, West Ham 1. The Better Team Lost.

Why today?

Why couldn’t this have happened against Cardiff? Or Everton? Or any number of days West Ham simply decided not to play football? The “this” I am referring to is the knob and lock on the main door in and and out of my house basically blew up half an hour before kickoff. The knob would turn, but whatever the part that goes in and out of the door frame did not move. The mechanism split in half. So off to the hardware store I went. Removing the old knob and lock was the hard part. It took most of the first half because I had to basically remove it bit by bit in order to get a screwdriver in there to pry it open and take it all out. The installation of the new one was a matter of minutes. Yeah, I put the outside knob on upside down but it still works. No way I was going to take it off and start again. Job done in my opinion.

The point of all of this is that my report today will be short, and virtually empty of details. Just some observations, made mostly from my knees, hands covered in grease and a few metal shards, and reading glasses on to see what I was doing.

The first forty-five minutes broke down into two major talking points. First, Anderson was onside and the goal should have counted. Second, the first penalty was quite soft. It also made me think of something I heard my friend and now fellow WHTID writer Nigel Kahn say a few weeks ago on Moore Than Just A Podcast. Whatever happened to the indirect free kick awarded for fouls in the box that weren’t necessarily actual goal scoring opportunities? The foul occurred on the edge of the area, and I for one don’t think it denied even a good shot let alone a likely goal.

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West Ham clearly saw the left side as a place to attack, and for the majority of the match the visitors were on the front foot and the home side was on their heels. Anderson’s equalizer came from such a missive. One of the NBC announcers said they don’t see us every week, yet they were sure we had not played this well all the time because if we had we would be top four. That’s how good we looked to people that don’t give a damn about us. We pressed them all over the pitch, Rice looked like he would be ready for Barcelona by Thursday, and we won double digit corners.

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When Antonio came on for Chicharito, I was surprised. Hernandez looked annoyed. Yet a thundering shot off the crossbar and a ridiculous save by daGea to deny Antonio of not one but two goals were ample evidence for Pellegrini to defend the move.

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The second penalty was undeniable. Stone cold. It just hurt because we looked far more likely to win than they did when it happened.

I feel like a parent who knows what their kids are capable of when they apply themselves, and the frustration caused by the simple lack of consistent effort. How many of you were as satisfied after the 0-4 loss at home to Manchester City than the 4-3 win over Huddersfield? Possibly more so? Gentlemen, if you are unable to extricate this inconsistency out of the DNA of our club, then I doubt I will ever see it happen in my lifetime. In the meantime, I fly over Thursday for a week that will include the huuuuuge carpet laying celebration against Leicester City. I’m 0-4 at the running track. My stadium ban, as imposed by block 214, has been lifted for next Saturday.

Just make me happy I showed up.


David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 0, Everton 2. Forget Europe, Folks.

I feel like Pacino in Godfather III. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back. I don’t mean that literally. What I mean is that I was pretty comfortable just mailing in the rest of the season. Then results went our way in the earlier matches, making a ceremonial stay in seventh place possible with a win. Personally, I think seventh would be a poisoned chalice. We are nowhere near deep enough to compete in Europe, and there is zero chance the board would sanction the kind of money needed to add that depth. So when a nice, calm afternoon watching football before a family function tonight was the plan…..well…..yeah. In the end, doing laundry would have been more fun.

When Everton paid fifty million pounds for Richarlison, many eyebrows were raised. But the reality was that he found terrific form playing under Marco Silva at Watford, so perhaps he could do the same at Everton. In the fifth minute, the Brazilian made a run down the right and won a corner. Considering how mediocre West Ham have been all season on set pieces there was reason for concern. Those reasons were realized when Zouma went over a static Diop and headed the set piece into the corner of the net. Huddersfield exposed us on corners, and Everton continued the trend.

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West Ham 0
Everton 1

Minutes later the Toffees won another corner when Obiang broke up another Everton. West Ham handled it, kind of, but it didn’t take long for Everton to roar forward ahead with one time supposed West Ham target Bernard cutting to his right in the box. His shot was blocked by Ogbonna, but the respite was short. Gueye won the visitors their third corner in the opening ten minutes when Ogbonna again was forced to put an attempted pass in the box behind the line.

It looked like a Premier League side against a League Two outfit as Fabianski was forced into so many saves inside of a minute it was hard to keep track. The third one came after a simple throw in by Everton turned into a cross by Richarlison that Fabianski had to dive out and punch away from Calvert-Lewin. Inside of fifteen minutes every aspect of West Ham was questionable. The choice of the starting eleven, the formation, the preparation. It was ugly.

Years ago, when football was new to American television, games were regularly interrupted by commercials. I thought we were over that. Nope. Someone at NBC pushed a button to show me a chicken basket from Dairy Queen. In fact, they were so impressed with this bit of poultry they showed the commercial twice.

When regularly scheduled programming returned I saw Lanzini have a chance at the top of the box after a pass from Zabaleta. He should have hit it right away. He didn’t, and the opportunity was squashed.

West Ham grew into a the match as the half carried on. Not by much. Metaphorically they moved up to League One. Arnautovic did his best to create a chance or two, but nothing that impressive. The only “victory” up until that point was that West Ham only trailed by one. By minute 33, however, even that victory was gone when Coleman broke down the right and centered the ball for Bernard streaking into the box and an easy tap in. Everton were better in every aspect, and West Ham looked completely out of their depth.

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West Ham 0
Everton 2

West Ham finally had a shot in the 41st minute when Snodgrass tried a long range effort that rolled harmlessly wide. In the words of Forest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.

West Ham finished the first half with two corners. The first one was cleared by Keane, the second by Richarlison. The boos rang out as the whistle blew.

Halftime
West Ham 0
Everton 2

It was a virtual certainty that Pelle would make changes at halftime, and that’s exactly what he did. Perez and Obiang made way for Chicharito and Antonio. They were clearly attacking changes, and while he had to it also meant West Ham would be even more exposed to counter attacks.

In the 54th minute, Arnautovic tried to help out defensively but lost the ball under pressure from Coleman and conceded a corner. The home side dealt with it, only to have Keane win another one after his shot was deflected out. Ogbonna rose high enough to head that delivery away from danger. It was telling that West Ham’s best ten minute spell of the match was adjudged to be so because we weren’t utterly man handled. Small victories, I guess.

Everton would have made it three had it not been for a defensive header by Cresswell. Bernard completely fooled Lanzini on the left side of the West Ham eighteen yard box before putting a cross into the box. Richarlison attacked the ball and likely thought it was going to be another goal. Cresswell got to the ball right before Richarlison and nudged it away.

Everton had another opportunity to make it three in the 72nd minute when Sigurdsson fed Calvert-Lewin in the West Ham box. The striker cut to his left but his low shot went wide. Minutes later Keane rolled a through ball to him down the right, and he timed his run perfectly. However his drive went over the bar. Even without scoring, Calvert-Lewin was a handful all day long.

The final minutes of the match ticked away, with Everton closing out their first win in London in two years. West Ham didn’t create a single chance in the second half, and Everton should have added to their goal differential when Richarlison had a free header off a set piece that clanged off the bar. The away supporters were loud and raucous. They deserved to be.

I was spared the final few minutes when NBC again cut to commercials for a credit card website and a home gym machine.

Final Score
West Ham 0
Everton 2

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Some losses are attributed to bad days at the office. Others to questionable decisions by the referee. And some to plain bad luck. Today was none of them. The simple, unadulterated truth was that Everton were waaaaaay better than us. In every possible way. The win two weeks ago over now relegated Huddersfield showed that West Ham have too many weaknesses to think any match is a sure fire three points. So instead of dreams, even of the pipe variety, of Europe via seventh place, I think today told us that overall a top ten finish would be a better indication of where we can aspire to be.

The final whistle was a welcome relief.


David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 4, Huddersfield 3. When Three Points Isn't Necessarily A Win.

He’s baaaaaaaaack.

Not that anyone was, or should have been, surprised to see Arnautovic back in the starting eleven. Hernandez was given a chance to cement his place and leave Mr. Petulance on the bench. But in last weeks woeful performance in Wales the attack looked incrementally better when Arnautovic and Antonio were on the pitch. With a Huddersfield side that has lost 22 times this season, three points was expected. But the Hammers had yet to win three in a row at The London Stadium, and with our DNA and inconsistency it would have been folly to expect those points. In the end, we got the three points in the most bizarre circumstances, and the win did nothing to alter any concerns over our up and down nature.

The first “opportunity” of the day came in minute three, when Huddersfield won a corner after a good spell of possession in midfield. The ball was delivered into a dangerous area in the box, but nobody in blue stripes was there to get to it. Four minutes later, Rice got forward and looped a cross into the box. It took a deflection before it reached Antonio, and without that he may have scored. Instead it went off the bar.

West Ham remained on the front foot, and in the 13th minute Lanzini was brought down inside the box by youngster Aaron Rowe for a stonewall penalty. Noble took care of the rest.

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West Ham 1
Huddersfield 0

The lead was stunningly short lived, however. Huddersfield won a corner minutes later, and Mooy whipped it into the box. Nobody, and I mean nobody, marked Bacuna. It was shambolic defending on a set piece. Again.

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West Ham 1
Huddersfield 1

The home side tried to shift into a higher gear after the embarrassing equalizer. There was lots of movement in and around the Terriers eighteen yard box, but it took until the 23rd minute for Antonio to turn those efforts into an actual question when he tried a curling effort from 20 yards out that went about a foot over the bar. For Antonio, only a foot over the bar on a long range shot is noteworthy.

Midway through the opening half, the word that came to my mind was “stale”. West Ham looked stale. There was no energy, and virtually nobody looked even remotely disappointed when a pass went wrong or a run was stopped. A little arm waving, and that was that.

It came to a head in the 30th minute. In a season where Huddersfield could barely score a goal at all, they scored a second in the first half. After a foul on Mooy, the set piece was rolled down the left to Lowe. He rolled a low ball into the box, and with the help of a little luck it made its way through to Grant who slotted it home.

West Ham 1
Huddersfield 2

It very easily could have been three moments later when a high ball into the West Ham area completely fooled Fabianski, which hasn’t happened all year. It bounced over his head and towards goal, but thankfully it was Ogbonna and not a Huddersfield player who was there to meet it. Later in the first half, they had a two on one with Pritchard and Mooy, but Zabaleta was able to break up the play. The natives were getting restless, and it was hard to blame them.

Halftime
West Ham 1
Huddersfield 2

The second half started with one change. Antonio was shown a seat, and Chicharito was asked to kick it up a notch.

In the 48th minute Arnautovic and Hernandez tried to combine in the Huddersfield area. Lossl came out to meet the ball, albeit not too powerfully. On another day the ball might have bounced free for Lil Pea.

In the 54th minute, West Ham were yet again caught napping and Huddersfield broke on the counter. Bacuna got the ball 30 yards out, and with nobody in the box he let it fly. It probably would have gone wide, but Fabianski took no chances and pushed it out for a corner. The marking on the set piece was utterly awful again, and a better ball in would have probably made it three for the visitors.

As the game hit the hour mark, the idea of a draw being the best we could hope for was firmly in my mind. Which was both depressing and infuriating in equal measure. Ridiculous chips into the arms of the goalkeeper, a soft shot inside the box, balls being sprayed around midfield, and disarray at the back. The talent on West Ham is beyond dispute. The attitude is sometimes beyond belief.

The shock of the day went from bad to truly surreal when Grant broke in on goal after a sloppy slide tackle by Ogbonna at midfield, ran at goal, moved a bit to his right, and fired a rifle past Fabianski. It was the first time all season Huddersfield had scored three goals in a match.

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West Ham 1
Huddersfield 3

Off went Arnautovic. He went right down the tunnel, with barely a look at a teammate or his manager. I said it in January. If there was an offer from China, we should have taken it. Because now we may be stuck with the Dr. Hyde aspect of Arnie, and nobody will pay anything for a guy like that who no longer scores goals.

On came Perez. Yeah. That guy. He’s still on West Ham. There were boos all around. Tony Gale called the West Ham performance appalling. Not that I would argue with Tony Gale. On a set piece in the 70th minute Mooy put a ball into the box and Stankovic didn’t have to do a lot to beat both Diop and Ogbonna, but his header went wide. It was the kind of moment that I would have liked to turn the match off and probably ignore the whole sport for about a month.

West Ham won a corner in the 75th minute. The ball into the box went in between the two Huddersfield defenders and Ogbonna was there to partially atone for his pathetic day with a header that just went over the line.

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West Ham 2
Huddersfield 3

I wanted to feel excited about a possible comeback, and even when Hernandez snuck behind the Huddersfield defense and got on the end of a long cross from Nasri to draw us level, I was still annoyed we had to deal with a comeback at all. Pretty immature of me, I know.

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West Ham 3
Huddersfield 3

The visitors won a corner in the 89th minute, and based on West Ham’s dismal play on set pieces there was reason for anxiety. The Hammers cleared the set piece, but what happened next was remarkable. Kongolo had a shot right in front of Fabianski, and somehow Fabianski stopped it. The ball came back out to Puncheon, but his effort went over the bar.

West Ham came back down and won a corner. Cresswell took it short to Anderson. The enigmatic midfielder moved to his right and looped the ball over the defense, and there was Hernandez to guide a header behind Lossl.

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Final Score
West Ham 4
Huddersfield 3

The season had a lot of promise after the win over Arsenal. But then came the loss to Wimbledon in the Cup, and it all came unstuck. Pellegrini promised that we would still push on, fight for seventh and a place in Europe, and not fall asleep until May. Well, Manuel. It doesn’t look that way from where I, and many others, sit. To spend the kind of money we have spent, then lose to Cardiff and need three goals in the final fifteen minutes to beat Huddersfield is a clear sign that we have barely inched forward, let alone pushed on.


David Hautzig's Match Report

Cardiff 2, West Ham 0. No Claret, Only Blue.

With relegation all but impossible, and winning anything actually impossible, many have said the season is for all intent and purpose over. While some may not understand this, I find these kinds of matches kind of enjoyable. We have all spent a large chunk of our lives watching West Ham desperately try to avoid relegation. One eye on the screen watching us hold on for a result against Wigan, or Sunderland, or Manchester United, while looking at the results around us on another screen literally every few seconds. To just be able to watch football, at least for the highly pessimistic and fearful of us (images of Dan Silver slouched in his seat, hands in pockets, chin tucked to his chest come to mind) is a treat to me. And I for one sat content on my basement sofa just watching football. I can’t say I enjoyed much of today’s match. But at least the result won’t send me into panic mode.

Like any Warnock team, Cardiff are a threat from set pieces. They had a chance to show that inside of the opening minute when Anderson brought down Murphy on the right side of the West Ham penalty area. The Hammers dealt with the delivery but Cardiff got the ball back into the box. Gunnarsson took a low shot that Fabianski handled. But moments later Murphy was on the run again on the right. His low pass to Hoilett was treated like a piece of radioactive waste by the entire West Ham defense, so Hoilett had pretty much no problem directing the ball into the back of the net.

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Cardiff 1
West Ham 0

Cardiff kept on the front foot, with Niasse making a run on the left in the 7th minute. Diop made a terrific tackle, and West Ham defended the ensuing corner well. But it didn’t stop the pressure from Cardiff, and West Ham were on their heels hoping for the onslaught to stop. The 13th minute could have brought a second from Cardiff when Fabianski raced Niasse to gather the ball in the West Ham eighteen yard box and lost the race. Niasse tried to loop the ball over the West Ham keeper but his touch was too heavy and the ball went way over the bar.

Midway through the first half, I had a dark thought. Anderson hadn’t completed a pass in what seemed like ages. I wondered if it was time to tell him that no, not even his spot is definite. Not that I had any idea who would replace him, mind you. But I definitely thought about it.

The visitors started to look more comfortable on the ball around the half hour mark. They moved the ball side to side while waiting for someone to make a run. In the 31st minute, the most unlikely of candidates to break on goal did just that. Noble ran behind the Cardiff defense and Anderson came inches away from finding him. It did, however, beg the question of whether or not we had the right lineup up front. Those kinds of balls need a target. We had a petulant one on the bench. Time would tell if he made an appearance.

Having only gone into halftime in front one time this season, Cardiff were hell bent on doubling that number. They kept the pressure up, gave West Ham no time on the ball. There was a steel door across the center of the pitch and West Ham couldn’t go through it. The Hammers looked better, especially down the right side, and they managed to win two corners late in the half. Yet neither produced even a shot off target. Snodgrass had a late attempt from outside the box but it sailed high.

Cardiff asked the final question of the match when Murphy tried a curling strike from 25 yards out, but Fabianski was equal to the task.

Halftime
Cardiff City 1
West Ham 0

It’s not like I have any clairvoyance or anything, but when Arnautovic came on for Anderson to start the second half, I gotta say I looked back at what I had written and nodded in agreement.

Cardiff had a set piece from a dangerous position in the 50th minute when Diop was a luck boy not to be booked for a tackle on Hoilett just to the left of the West Ham box. The set piece was handled well, but Cardiff kept the pressure on and were rewarded. Hoilett started with a cross that Murphy headed back across the face of goal where Camarasa was there to force it over the line. There was a question of offside, although Fredericks looked to have played Camarasa onside. There was no question, however, of which side was playing better and deserved the lead.

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Cardiff City 2
West Ham 0

Cardiff should have scored a third in the 57th minute when Niasse went around Diop as if he were a mannequin and was in on goal alone. Yet somehow, someway, he flubbed the shot and sent it wide. And if that wasn’t the chance to put the lights out, moments later Fabianski came up with a tremendous double save on Niasse and Camarasa to keep the game alive. Life support, mind you. But there was a pulse.

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I love Antonio’s enthusiasm and drive. But until they decide to put the goal high up in the lower stands behind the goal, he shouldn’t try any more long range shots.

West Ham had their best chance of the match in the 71st minute when Rice decided to try a low drive from outside the Cardiff eighteen yard box. He beat Etheridge, but the ball bounced off the center of the right post and back out for Cardiff to clear. A few minutes later Arnautovic made a little move to his right and tried to beat Etheridge to the near post but the Cardiff keeper made a good stop. If nothing else, it might have moved Arnie back closer to the starting eleven.

With ten minutes to go, Hoilett did very well to fight off both Fredericks and Snodgrass to win a corner. The delivery came to the shiny head of Gunnarsson but the ball went over the bar. Cardiff kept the ball deep in West Ham territory, and won another free kick in the 84th minute. Hoilett sent a curling ball at goal, and Morrison and Fabianski both went for it. The end result was a high boot and a yellow for the former, and likely bruise for the latter.

West Ham won a corner in the 86th minute when Antonio and Cresswell played an overlapping run that went a bit wonky. The delivery from Nasri wasn’t memorable. Neither were the two throw ins from Antonio moments later. Nor the move in the box from Arnautovic. Or the corner from Snodgrass.

Final Score
Cardiff City 2
West Ham 0

Don’t get me wrong. Cardiff deserved the win. They worked harder, made no defensive blunders, and took their chances. But they didn’t show a lot of quality. This was a side that had conceded five to Watford in their last home game. In other words, even a neutral would probably say West Ham are a better side and had an off day while Cardiff did what was needed to win. The only thing left on my ledger for the morning or early afternoon was deciding what was for lunch.

Grilled Cheese.


David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 2, Newcastle 0. Here Ya Go, Bonzo.

I normally don’t give a damn what Lawro says. He does seem to have fun poking us on social media by virtually always predicting us to lose. Which he did again for today, pegging us for a 2-0 loss. But Newcastle are on a good run of form, playing three up front and looking energetic. Not necessarily a Rafa Benitez signature style of play. If we stayed as organized and resilient as we did on Wednesday, I don’t know why Newcastle would score more than Manchester City. Yet that would be boring, and at home against a side below us in the table that might not please the natives. Put that all together and I can’t say I sat down to watch today with a great deal of confidence. By the final whistle, I was calmly optimistic.

The opening minutes of the match were about West Ham possession, with good interplay between Snodgrass and Fredericks. In the 7th minute, Noble won a corner and Snodgrass, in many ways the player I admire most because of the class he has shown in a truly classless environment around him, stepped up to take it. From a delivery standpoint, the born again Scottish international is about as good as we have had in a long time. Including you know who. Of his 18 career assists in the EPL, 11 have come from set pieces. He whipped the set piece in, and Rice was there to head it into the back of the net.

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West Ham 1
Newcastle 0

The visitors looked to get on the front foot for an equalizer, and in the 17th minute won a free kick from just outside the West Ham eighteen yard box after Ritchie was pulled down by Snodgrass. But the duo of Diop and Ogbonna held firm.

Midway through the opening half I realized I had barely written a word. It wasn’t like nothing happened. But nothing seemingly did. Both sides worked the ball around but rarely got it anywhere near either keeper. I’d have probably signed up for that until the final whistle, as my anxiety over this club persists.

With his call up to Brazil, I was hoping to see a strong performance from Anderson. With no goals in nine games he was due. But the enigmatic midfielder ran into brick wall after brick wall, with a successful pass nowhere in sight. In the 30th minute he had two passes intercepted within seconds of each other, both times stopping what could have been a useful attack. Moments later West Ham had what was their best “chance” since the Rice opener when Snodgrass tried to loop a pass over the Newcastle defense into the box but it was just a bit too high for the not particularly tall Lanzini.

The Hammers won a free kick in the 37th minute when Anderson decided to run into the brick wall as opposed to passing into it. Lanzini put it right into the Newcastle wall, (yes, I’ve used the word “wall” too many times but I’m knackered.), yet the ball came back to Lanzini, giving him a chance at redemption. However his cross was too high for anyone in the box.

Minutes later, after a yellow card to Longstaff for a challenge on Snodgrass, Anderson sent the set piece into the box for Hernandez. After a quick move to his left, he was taken down by a clumsy challenge from Lejeune. It’s the type of movement inside the area that can make him so valuable. Obvious penalties for us don’t always result in actual penalties for us. So I was pleasantly surprised to see the referee point to the spot. Noble stepped up and drilled it into the top corner.

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West Ham 2
Newcastle 0

As first half added time wound down, Newcastle earned themselves two corners. The lead up to the second one could have been a far scarier for West Ham. Diop’s clearance of the first came back into the right side of the box. The ball landed at the feet of Schar. With a good look at goal and Sonny Bono nowhere to be found, Diop made a truly goal saving tackle. Masuaku, who replaced the injured Cresswell, headed the ball out of danger off the corner and the whistle blew.

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Halftime
West Ham 2
Newcastle 0

The visitors started the second half brightly, with Ayoze Perez getting behind the West Ham back line and into the box. He sent a low ball across the face of goal and if either Rondon or Almiron had been one step closer it would have been an easy tap in. Instead it rolled out for a goal kick. Five minutes later, after showing a more aggressive press, Newcastle won a corner but again the West Ham defense held firm. Minutes later Rondon was able to turn in the box and get their first shot on target of the match, but Fabianski made the easy save.

Ryan Fredericks made a very slow start to his West Ham career, which only got worse with an injury that kept him out for a few months. But he has looked quite good of late, including a MOTM performance at Manchester City the other night. In the 60th minute he showed what he can bring to the table with a bursting run down the right. His ball into the box was excellent, but Hernandez couldn’t stretch quite enough to get a shot on target. Seconds later it was Masuaku who put an equally delightful ball into the area that Hernandez reached but the angle was too tight to challenge Dubravka.

There’s an old saying from a baseball pitcher here named Lefty Gomez; “I’d rather be lucky than good”. In the 72nd minute, Masuaku may have embodied that when a long ball found Rondon in the box. His header headed back across the face of goal, and it might have gone in had it not hit the face of Masuaku instead. Newcastle were awarded the corner, but West Ham handled it without incident.

Newcastle had a strong chance to cut the lead in half in the 82nd minute when Atsu broke down the left and sent a low pass to Rondon in the box. But Ogbonna took his turn to play defensive hero and made a superb, goal denying tackle. Minutes later Diop was booked for a challenge on Ayoze Perez, giving Newcastle a free kick from 25 yards out. Rondon took it and beat Fabianski, but he couldn’t beat the woodwork and the clean sheet remained intact.

In added time, Newcastle had a number of chances in the box as the ball bounced around like a pinball machine. Newcastle shot, West Ham blocked. Newcastle shot again, West Ham blocked again. It felt like it happened a dozen times, although I doubt it was more than three.

Final Score
West Ham 2
Newcastle 0

Billy Bonds deserved a win today. And thankfully the football universe saw fit to let that happen. While West Ham weren’t earth shattering, we were professional, organized, and took our chances. On a day like this, life in Stratford looks just fine. It was the first time we have gone five matches in our new surroundings without a loss. With a run of games against teams we should be confident against, we might just make 7th place something we can achieve.

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