David Hautzig's Match Report

Sunderland 2, West Ham 2. Brisket Is Better Than West Ham.

Onions. Lots of onions. That’s the key to a great brisket. My mom told me that years ago, and I can say that with as much confidence now as I say Andy Carroll won’t play more than ten games in a row without getting hurt. With over twenty family members invading my home this afternoon like a mob storming an embassy, we had some serious cooking to do. Do I tell our fearless leader I’m out of commission again? Or do I sharpen my ten-inch chefs knife, grab two dozen onions, and get to work while watching the match? The latter was the winner in my poll of one. Me. So times of match events won’t always accurate, stuff will have been missed, and players who I said did this or that may sometimes be wrong.

My brisket will be superb as always.

The opening minute of the match saw West Ham get an opportunity with a free kick from just outside the box when Cattermole took down Ayew from behind. Cattermole saw yellow, and Pickford saw the curling effort from Lanzini and was able to push it aside.

Minutes later, Sam Byram continued to make his case that he should likely have been at right back since August, especially when you consider the alternatives Bilic insisted on. He found Carroll in the box with a long cross as West Ham’s number nine peeled away to the far post. Carroll looked to attempt a volley but shanked it. However, the ball rolled to Ayew right in front of the Sunderland goal and he did what he does best. Scores junk goals.

Sunderland 0
West Ham 1

The Black Cats had an opportunity to level a few minutes later when Khazri sent a free kick into the box that O’Shea was able to get on the end of but his header was soft and right at Randolph.

Sautée the onions with a generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper in a Dutch Oven. It takes a good ten minutes or more to cook them down and get some color to them. Once that’s done, put the cooked onions aside and use the Dutch Oven to sear both sides of the brisket. Again, apply generous salt and pepper to both sides.

In the 20th minute, the Hammers used some promising interplay between Masuaku, Lanzini, and Carroll to set up Snodgrass for a left footed effort on the edge of the penalty area. When the ball was struck, and Pickford didn’t move, I thought the former Hull man had opened his account at West Ham. But it went wide. A minute later, the “new Payet” gave Sunderland a free kick to the left of the West Ham eighteen-yard box. Khazri found Gibson with a low pass in the box but the shot went wide.

After Defoe was denied a penalty kick after a collision with Byram, Sunderland won a corner. Khazri again stepped up to take it. He curled his delivery into the box. Anichebe tussled with Randolph and looked to back into the West Ham keeper. Yet even if that interaction was a foul, and I think it was, nobody in the box for the visitors looked to make any attempt to get on the ball and it flew against the far post and into the back of the net. Come on. You knew Sunderland would break out of their scoring drought against us, didn’t you?

Sunderland 1
West Ham 1

West Ham should have gone back on top in the 37th minute when Byram intercepted a pass and started a break with a through ball for Snodgrass. A low cross to Carroll was played back into the box where Ayew tried a pirouette to get on the ball but his shot went over the bar. Snodgrass was right behind him and likely in a better position to shoot if Ayew had let the ball go. He didn’t, and Snodgrass showed his indignation at his teammate.

After the meat has a nice crust on both sides, take it out and rest it on a plate. Put half the onions in the Dutch Oven, place the brisket on top, and then cover the remaining onions.

In the single minute of added time, Defoe set up Khazri on the edge of the box for an attempt on goal that didn’t trouble Randolph. But after a good spell by Sunderland standards, the halftime whistle was more welcomed by us than them.

Halftime
Sunderland 1
West Ham 1

A lot was made of Ginge’s contributions last week against Swansea. While West Ham’s central defense had looked like a Keystone Cops routine for months at a time, he never appeared to complain. Leaving the club was close to a dead cert over the summer. In the opening moments of the second half, West Ham earned their first corner of the match. With the guile of a seasoned striker, Collins maneuvered into position in the box and was able to guide the Snodgrass set piece into the back of the net with his concrete skull.

Sunderland 1
West Ham 2

Finally, pour in beef stock to halfway up the meat. If you plan to use store bought stock, I beg of you. Stop. Make stock. It’s so easy. Bones, onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, water. A few hours later you’ve got stock. In terms of cooking temperature and time, think Joey O’Brien. Low and slow. I do 275 degrees for however many hours I want. Usually no less than four, but more often than not six or so.

Jose Fonte has, to put it mildly, not pulled up any trees since arriving in January. But when Fernandes gave the ball away at the top of the West Ham area in the 60th minute, it was Fonte who got in Anichebe’s way to snuff out a possibly disastrous situation for the birthday boy. As simple as it was, and yes it should be expected of a center half, it was Fonte’s best moment in Claret & Blue to date. Not that it says much.

All day long, Byram tried to battle Anichebe Mano a Mano. From a physical perspective it was no contest. Byram held his own to be fair, but in the 70th minute Mariner saw what he thought was a bit too much from the young right back and awarded Sunderland a free kick. West Ham handled it, but moments later Ndong was set up by Khazri for what should have been an equalizer with a rolled pass in the box and somehow Ndong hit the 40th row when the net was a significantly easier target.

I’m glad I was done cutting things and the knife was put away when Randolph did his idiotic clearance attempt. Borini. Adrian against Everton. Enough said.

Oh. This is important. Always slice the meat against the grain. That way it falls apart on your plate and in your mouth.

Final Score
Sunderland 2
West Ham 2

Here’s the thing. From a completely unemotional, results based perspective today was an acceptable day. Swansea lost, we didn’t. So as it stands, they need to gain ten more points than us in the final five games of the season. ‘Boro have two games in hand but are thirteen points behind us. In all likelihood, we are safe. Yet like most of you, I feel defeated. As if our concerns about the issues at the club were somehow ratified with this result. Last year was the exception, and this year is the rule.

Thankfully West Ham aren’t cooked. But my brisket is.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

Hull City 2, West Ham 1. Crisis Mode Confirmed.

I’ve said this before, but today it bears repeating. The two prevailing emotions in my life supporting West Ham have been fear and relief. Last season was a rare exception, possibly even a one off, where unbridled joy had a place at the table. But we’ve reverted back to the norm, and I went into today’s match absolutely terrified. Logic dictates that a nine-point cushion along with a possible extra point from goal differential should get us over the line at this point. But the fixture list isn’t as friendly to us as it will be to some below us, so if suspended animation were offered until May I would seriously consider it. With early morning coffee came rumors that Sakho was available. While I knew the tweets about Bilic being sacked and Lacazette signing were a product of the calendar, Sakho had a hint of maybe to it. Alas, it was as believable as something Sean Spicer would say. Other than Collins, it looked to be a fairly attacking lineup, something I admit added to my fear factor. Yes, today was a day I’d have played not to lose. To respect the point. Right or wrong. After our second half display, I’d say I was right.

The minute you know who decided to abandon ship for reasons both spoken and unspoken, it was pretty clear Lanzini would be asked to fill those shoes. In the sixth minute a good run by The Jewel into the box showed promise, but the end result failed him and not even a shot was attempted. Moments later Byram, hoping to take advantage of a run in the squad, got on the end of a Feghouli pass and tried to take a tight angle shot but Hull did their defensive job.

There have been many calls for Masuaku to get his own shot at the starting eleven due to the questionable form of Cresswell. That argument was in play in the twelfth minute when the once automatic selection dawdled one ball in the box and, not surprisingly, lost it to Niasse who then whipped in a cross that Fonte deflected out for a corner.

West Ham had the first real chance on goal in the 14th minute when Feghouli threaded a cross into the box that Snodgrass got on the end of. Replays showed he was offside, so if he had played the ball well he very well might have scored. Unfortunately Snodgrass didn’t take advantage of the linesman’s mistake and tried a one timed header that Jakupovic handled easily. A few minutes later, Andy Carroll got on the end of another good cross, this one from Cresswell. After turning Davies inside out on the box, Carroll chested it down perfectly and did what a striker is supposed to do. He put the ball behind the keeper.

Hull City 0
West Ham 1

Remember when Adrian had a total brain fart at Southampton and got red carded? Yeah, it was rescinded, but it wasn’t the brightest move on the Spaniards part. Nor was it doctoral thesis material last season when he got sent off against Leicester City last season. In the 23rd minute, with Hernandez and Markovic bearing down on him, Randolph decided to channel his inner Lanzini and run the ball out of the box. Yes, the back pass to our keeper was ill advised but just as two wrongs don’t make a right, two mistakes don’t make anything but a disaster. Randolph and the Hammers got lucky there.

In the 30th minute, Lanzini made another of his signature moves near the top of the box before unleashing a wicked right-footed shot that was deflected out for what would be the first of three consecutive corners for the visitors. The cumulative effect of those three set pieces was time for me to make a cup of tea. Milk and sugar in case you’re wondering how a yank takes his PG Tips.

Minutes 31 to 45, plus three added on, were…..uhhhh….a football match. Passes, corners, throw ins, Carroll injury scare, the basics. But that was it.

Halftime
Hull City 0
West Ham 1

With so little action so to speak I found myself thinking that the defense looked more solid up to that point with the inclusion of Ginge. Well, my superstitious nature should have known better than to allow my mind to be positive about our Achilles heal this season. In the 53rd minute, Markovic won the ball in midfield and threaded a pass to Grosicki on the left. The Hull halftime substitute saw Robertson running from his own end and laid the ball off for him. To my eyes, Fonte was in a position to intercept that pass. He didn’t, Robertson cut into the box, beat Ginge and slipped it past Randolph.

Hull City 1
West Ham 1

Hull should have taken the lead minutes later when a counter ended up at the feet of N’Diaye in the West Ham penalty area. His right-footed shot went off the post, the MOTM as we all recall in the home fixture a few months ago, and bounced right out to Grosicki. His shot missed the other post by an inch and went wide. Normally Bilic is at least the equal of the two managers in a match at halftime. His record in second halves is quite good. After the first ten minutes, however, it was Silvia’s man Grosicki who made the difference.

Sometimes circumstances play a part in long-term decisions. In the 66th minute Snodgrass was replaced by Fernandes, and two minutes later Cresswell pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury and was replaced by Masuaku. Two players that have disappointed many replaced by two players many supporters think deserve an extended run. Time will tell on both of those players.

As the second half rolled on, the more positive play came from Hull. Not surprising as they were at home. But much of was assisted by more bad passing and more bad touches from the likes of Feghouli and poor crosses from just about everyone. By the time Feghouli tried a dink, or a soft cross, or whatever the heck it was in the 78th minute I was 100% ready to accept the point and call it a day. But I was terrified, yes terrified, that it would slip away like so many other points in the dying seconds of a match.

In the 82nd minute, Hull took advantage of the total lack of pace in the West Ham center back universe with a long ball to Niasse. When the pass was made, Collins had a decent lead. It disappeared in about three steps. Hull worked the ball in and around the West Ham area before Markovic and Henrikson linked up well but the latter volley went out for a throw in.

The inevitable happened just as we all thought it would. In the 85th minute, Hull won a corner. The delivery from Grosicki wasn’t actually that good. But Ranocchia made a run towards the near post and threaded a header past Carroll and then Randolph and plunged West Ham into full-fledged crisis mode.

Hull City 2
West Ham 1

Slaven Bilic made one final substitution in added time in search of a equalizer to stop the bleeding, inserting Calleri for Kouyate. Carroll had a shot from the top of the box and decided to give it a whirl, but it went out with a whimper. Much like the Hammers season.

Final Score
Hull City 2
West Ham 1

While the math might still favor us, the reality staring West Ham in the face is so obvious it’s transparent. West Ham look lost. Disorganized. If the season were a few weeks longer, the odds on relegation would be much lower than they currently are.

Hopefully time is on our side. Because currently nothing else is.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 2, Leicester 3. Angry, Proud, Dazed and Confused.

What was I thinking? After months of pure dysfunction, I thought the tide had turned. The departure of you know who, a few results saw us climb the table a bit, and the squad looked relatively content. Things were calm. Happy, almost.

Oops.

The articles and podcasts debating the pros and cons of the manager seemed to appear out of nowhere, Noble of all people lost his cool and was pilloried for it on the very platform that pushed his buttons in the first place, and the Chairman who cannot stay quiet took to the website to raise the temperature even more. For the record, all of the questions being debated are valid. And in today’s world, those questions escalating the way they have is par for the course. Personally, I think Bilic deserves the chance to correct his mistakes and build a better squad. I also think Kouyate and Obiang in midfield with Byram at right back is so obvious it’s transparent. Whatever the circumstances, both of those changes were made. But as I said to a Leicester supporter the other day, when he reminded me they hadn’t won an away game in the league this year, his side were visiting the perfect place to get off that snide. And I was unfortunately correct.

The first minutes of the match raised more concerns over Cresswell’s form, as Mahrez was able to slide past him and win a corner, albeit a contested one. West Ham were able to handle the set piece, but the reason for concern was there. And the worst fears were realized in the fifth minute when Mahrez looked to be curling in a cross. Cresswell sat back and gave Mahrez a lot of room, which may have caused Randolph to react late. The ball bounced right next to Randolph and into the net.

West Ham 0
Leicester 1

While I was typing the above paragraph, Leicester were awarded a free kick thirty yards from goal when Reid was called for a foul. In what looked like a perfectly rehearsed dance routine, Mahrez laid off the set piece for Albrighton who sent a ball into the box with the outside of his right foot. Robert Huth is the size of a small building, so it’s hard to understand how nobody picked him up. But nobody did, and Huth headed it home for his first goal of the EPL season.

West Ham 0
Leicester 2

In the 16th minute, Leicester continued to test the West Ham back line when Drinkwater tried to send a through ball behind Reid for Vardy. Reid stretched to make contact with the pass, and he was lucky not to need a stretcher to leave the match as his right thigh gave way. Instead of putting Ginge into his natural center half position, perhaps due to the speed in Leicester’s attack, Bilic inserted Snodgrass and the Kouyate in midfield “experiment” was over.

In the 19th minute, Antonio did a solid job holding off Drinkwater with his back to goal to win a free kick twenty-five yards from goal. Lanzini has been hailed as the man who must take over from that guy who screwed us over and moved back to France for “personal” reasons. When Lanzini struck the ball, nobody moved. I mean nobody. The ball sailed over the wall and past the static Schmeichel as if he were in a video game.

West Ham 1
Leicester 2

Minutes later, Antonio worked hard at midfield to win the ball and start a run at the Leicester defense. He threaded a lovely ball for Ayew to get onto, but after a few strides the 20 million pound man unleashed a wild shot headed nowhere in particular. Not exactly a way to endear yourself to a home crowd that needs you to do better.

One of the arguments I’ve heard put forward, often on The West Ham Way Podcast, is that the striker position isn’t necessarily a problem. It’s the lack of quality service to the existing strikers that needs to be addressed. That argument looked persuasive when Cresswell and Snodgrass couldn’t put balls into the box that Carroll could even get to, let alone score from, and then moments later Carroll himself delivered two crosses into the box that would have been quality had Carroll been able to clone himself.

In the 39th minute, Leicester won a corner after Mahrez and Albrighton worked well together, which was already a theme for the day. Carroll has rightly been credited for his defensive attributes. But as the set piece sailed in, Carroll looked to get his head on it and missed completely. The ball bounced around the box and created a perfect opportunity for a poacher. Well, guess what Vardy is? For a defense that has looked hopelessly disorganized all season that was yet again a goal that should have been avoided.

Halftime
West Ham 1
Leicester 3

When a team depends on one player too much, the physical and emotional strain that pressure carries is likely exhausting. Early in the second half, Lanzini did very well to orchestrate an escape from deep in the West Ham zone without hoofing the ball away. The ball eventually got to Antonio in the middle of the pitch, but the weight of the Claret & Blue world looked to be attached to his legs and the ball was easily snatched from him and what could have been a decent attack fizzled away. Minutes later Antonio again lost the ball in what seemed to be a moment of exhaustion, and I started to wonder if the ultimate Catch 22 was at hand. He’s our best player, and he’s too tired to make a difference.

In the 62nd minute, West Ham had their first kind of opportunity of the half when Okazaki fouled Lanzini and West Ham were awarded a free kick thirty five yards from goal. Lanzini went for it again, trying to duplicate his magic from the first half. And he almost made it, forcing Schmeichel to make a diving save and push the ball out for a corner. The delivery from that corner finally did what it was supposed to do and found Carroll. The big man headed the ball back into the box where Ayew was there with his cranium to push it past Schmeichel.

West Ham 2
Leicester 3

Leicester threatened to restore their two goal advantage in the 68th minute when Okazaki did well to hold the ball up with his back to goal and lay the ball off for Mahrez, but Cresswell timed his block well and the ball rolled out for a throw that West Ham handled well.

Not surprisingly, the game opened up with West Ham feeling the surge produced by Ayew’s goal and Leicester looking to counter. After some sloppy but energetic runs by Antonio and Ayew, the former won a free kick just outside the box. But Lanzini’s delivery was not good enough and the West Ham surge faded.

In the 73rd minute, after some nice work by Byram on the right, West Ham won a corner. Leicester cleared, but West Ham continued to attack down the right with a heavy reliance on the young right back. From the manager apparently having zero belief in him to being the focus of every attack. Who would have thunk it?

West Ham came so close to an equalizer in the 78th minute on an Andy Carroll header that many were waiting for goal line technology to buzz. Instead, Schmeichel punched it out for a corner. Minutes later David Sullivan would have been completely in his right to demand a refund from Swansea when Antonio threaded a ball behind the Leicester defense to a wide open Ayew in front of goal. All he had to do was guide it into the net. Instead he tried to blast it. He blasted it, all right. Nowhere near the goal. “He needs to go! You Cannot Miss That!” screamed my best mate Jon in a text. It was nothing short of pathetic.

After a West Ham corner in the 83rd minute, the ball fell to Kouyate right in front of goal. He turned and fired but Drinkwater was there to block it on or near the line. The ball rolled to Carroll who tried a low shot but after at least a couple of deflections the ball rolled harmlessly to Schmeichel.

In the 92nd minute, Ayew was fouled just outside the box setting up a free kick. Instead of Lanzini, it was Snodgrass who stepped over it. His delivery wasn’t good enough, but the ball bounced perfectly to Carroll right in front of Schmeichel. Like Ayew earlier, Carroll had the whole goal to aim at. Unlike Ayew, who I won’t forgive for that miss for a very long time, Carroll at least forced Schmeichel to make a spectacular stop. But Tony Gale said he should have scored, and who am I to argue with Tony Gale?

Right before the end, long time West Ham Twitter target Slimani was sent in on goal but Randolph came out to make the save.

Final Score
West Ham 2
Leicester 3

It seems that every week the narrative for our club changes close to the end of a match. I was planning a ruthless self examination as my final words, but West Ham were indeed all over them in the second half, and should have equalized. It may have been the best 45 minutes of football we have played all season, or at least up for consideration as such. As Nigel Kahn put it in a post match text, “Glorious in defeat. The West Ham Way”. So am I mad at our first half floundering, or proud of the second half fight?

Yup.

After the final whistle I couldn’t help myself but to look at the table. Not upwards, but downwards. Not only because of the result but because of the injuries to Reid and Obiang. I fear both will be out for some time. Nine points clear of the drop, and the GD improved against Hull. But Boro have two games in hand, while Sunderland has one. While doing that may sound absurd and paranoid, you should all know me well enough by now to know that’s how I approach West Ham. Start the day depressed and hope for a pleasant surprise.

The second half was pleasant, but I wasn’t surprised at how it ended.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

Bournemouth 3, West Ham 2. Get The Knives Sharpened.

Last season, I would be on Twitter one hour and one minute before kickoff to see the starting lineups and subs. This season, not so much. But today was different. I had hope that what seemed so obvious to so many supporters regarding the right back position and the midfield would appear before Bilic like a vision. The Ghost Of Football Clarity, perhaps? Nope. Kouyate at right back, Ayew on the bench. And the home side hadn’t won a match since December. Today was a vision, all right. A vision of what we will live through most weeks if we don’t dramatically improve the squad in the summer.

The first five minutes did nothing to allow me to settle in to my comfortable surroundings at home. The West Ham defense looked out of sorts and sometimes out of position. King and Afobe tried to take advantage of two mistakes by Cresswell, first waiting too long to clear the ball from danger and second being caught out of position on an offside trap. Thankfully for us, the Cherries didn’t threaten either time. But in the 8th minute, the calamity at the back culminated when Feghouli brought down Daniels and Madley immediately pointed at the spot. They deserved to go one up. But in order to do that, you must finish the job. King didn’t do that, sending his shot wide despite sending Randolph the wrong way.

It’s often said that football can be a cruel game. It can also offer salvation to the damned. Indeed it can. Despite Bournemouth missing the penalty, it was still Feghouli that handed them the chance. So when he intercepted a pass from Arter in the Bournemouth area, redemption was at hand. A quick pass to Antonio who spun around and put a low shot past Boruc. Salvation, sort of, complete.

Bournemouth 0
West Ham 1

For a club managed by a former central defender, West Ham played like that position had never even been discussed in training. Reid and Fonte looked so out of sorts that Bournemouth found a lot of success early on sending balls over the top and into the heart of the West Ham danger zone. In the 14th minute, a lob over the top found Afobe between the two Center Backs but as his lob over Randolph headed towards goal the referee spotted that Afobe had used his hands to control the ball. Moments later Bournemouth were on the front foot again when Pugh sent Daniels down the left but his ball across the face of goal was too pacey for King to get on the end of it.

West Ham had a great chance to double their advantage in the 24th minute when Lanzini sent a through ball down the left that Antonio chased down to the left of Boruc. He rolled the ball back to Lanzini, but from a dangerous spot he sent his shot well over the bar.

In the 29th minute, Randolph was forced into a good save but not from the kind of build up play Bournemouth had used to dominate the first half. Instead, Fraser got the ball 30 yards out and looked to have said to himself “F This” and fired. Randolph had to dive to his right to push the ball out for a corner. The set piece found Cook in the box but his header was tipped over the bar. Two minutes later, Bournemouth finally got the goal they richly deserved when King received the ball in the box, spun around Fonte, and slid it past Randolph.

Bournemouth 1
West Ham 1

It’s pretty rare for one side to be awarded two penalties in one game, let alone one half. So what are the odds that side will miss both? According to OptaJoe, West Ham had never seen an opponent miss two penalties in the same EPL match. I’m think a tenner on that would bring back some decent funds. In the 36th minute, Daniels sent a through ball into the box for Pugh. Fonte stuck his leg out to stop him, which is rarely a good idea in the box. Pugh went down, and Madley pointed to the spot a second time. As soon as Afobe started to stutter step towards the ball, I’m guessing Bournemouth supporters worried. His weak shot probably made them sick. Randolph’s save made us laugh.

The Hammers had another good chance in the 41st minute when a Carroll attempt bounced kindly to Feghouli in the box. His right-footed shot made Boruc dive the wrong way, but his left leg did enough to deflect the shot out for a corner.

Bournemouth finished off what was largely their half when a low pass from Pugh found Daniels on the left. Daniels then sent a good ball into the box for Afobe but his shot was blocked by Reid.

Halftime
Bournemouth 1
West Ham 1

Early in the second half, Bournemouth were awarded a free kick when Reid was called for a foul on Fraser thirty yards from goal. Fraser’s delivery floated into the box, Afobe flicked it to King, and six yards from goal he couldn’t have missed it. Madley talked to his assistant for a second to see if West Ham could get their third Get Out Jail Free Card of the match for an offside. King may have been offside on the first ball, but not on the second. And regardless of what we think of that rule, King was onside and the goal stood.

Bournemouth 2
West Ham 1

In the 53rd minute, Obiang lost the ball at midfield…words which have rarely if ever been spoke this campaign…and Bournemouth were on the break. Fraser collected Arter’s pass and went for goal, but his shot was deflected into the arms of Randolph.

The 57th minute saw the changes most of us thought would happen at halftime. Feghouli and Noble off, Snodgrass and Ayew on. But in what can only be described as a prototypical West Ham moment, Snodgrass went down in a heap seconds after coming on with an ankle injury. He tried to run it off, and eventually came back on. For how long would remain to be seen.

In the 68th, Bournemouth had a chance to possibly put the game out of reach for a West Ham side bereft of ideas when King and Afobe combined on a counter attack that ended with Afobe taking on three West Ham defenders in the box yet still managing to get a shot off that Randolph was able to grab. Minutes later Smith sent a short cross into the box that Afobe attacked but his header went over the bar.

In the 80th minute, West Ham won a corner when Lanzini fed Antonio on the edge of the Bournemouth penalty area. Antonio tried a shot with the outside of his right foot that might have been goal bound had Cook not blocked it out for a corner.

When Byram came on for Kouyate, I’m guessing the reaction on Twitter and elsewhere was something like “yeah, but why now”? I’ve long questioned what Byram has done to deserve being ignored by Bilic. Is he the perfect right back going forward? Maybe not. But leaving him in the West Ham Phantom Zone has forced Bilic to play Kouyate out of his preferred position in midfield, among other moves. In the 83rd minute, Obiang slipped a truly sublime ball behind the Bournemouth back line that Byram ran onto perfectly. The West Ham RIGHT BACK didn’t have to break stride as he rolled the ball back to an onrushing Ayew. The Twenty Million Pound Man had nothing but a open net to shoot at, and he slotted it home.

Bournemouth 2
West Ham 2

I was planning on what my words were going to be in my concluding paragraph. The gist was gong to be that we got a point we almost certainly didn’t deserve. Bournemouth helped me in the 89th minute when they dispossessed an unforgivably sloppy Ayew in midfield and broke forward with numbers. Wilshire got off a good shot that Randolph was able to stop, but the rebound came out to King who was able to complete his hat trick and secure, deservedly, all three points for the home side.

Final Score
Bournemouth 3
West Ham 2

We have lost games this season by more goals and with far more abject performances than today. But today was a game that made me want to stop the season and start again next year. We were second best throughout, possibly fourth if you count the home and away supporters. The need for new players, better players, in any number of positions is transparently obvious. I could list those positions, as well as the obvious players who had poor games and should be concerned about their status, but that would be boring. I’d rather go cut up the pork shoulder I’m going to grill as Kebabs for dinner tonight.

I better go sharpen my knife. As should West Ham.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

Watford 1, West Ham 1. Self Evident Truths.

That damn game at the London Stadium in September was the most annoying match in years. Other games have been more infuriating. Any number of Spurs matches, Chelsea away last year, almost every match under Moron Grant. But Watford at home was annoying. Like a bug bite. It took months for it to go away. And I wanted to beat them today something fierce. Simply put, Watford don’t deserve to spend a summer enjoying two wins against us. Maybe that’s unfair. Too bad. I was in no mood for fair today. And while I think we were worth more than a draw today, the game itself not only earned a it made a point.

As the match previews showed Zarate, we all knew that somehow he would play a part in a moment that would annoy us. We just didn’t think it would happen in the second minute. Deeney retrieved a long pass from Cleverley and rolled the ball to Zarate in the box. Despite being known as possibly the most versatile player in our squad, Kouyate has shown that right back is not his preferred position. And that’s putting it mildly. A clumsy challenge on the former Hammer brought him down, Pawson pointed at the spot, supporters worldwide continued to wonder how on earth we never signed a right back, and Deeney did the rest.

Watford 1
West Ham 0

The mistake so early was made more annoying by the work West Ham did right after the goal. They closed down well and pressed with a purpose. Antonio worked the ball down the left and sent a dangerous low cross in that was deflected away by Holebas. No defensive mistake and we would have been feeling pretty good. Huge defensive mistake and we were chasing the game before it really started.

Antonio won a free kick from a reasonably dangerous position in the 17th minute, but Snodgrass’s effort was too low and too slow. Minutes later, Feghouli picked Holebas’s pocket and fed Snodgrass in the box. He should have drilled it, and if he had he might have scored, but instead he side footed it and Kaboul was able to get a foot in the way and send it out for a corner.

West Ham continued to enjoy the majority of the possession, with Snodgrass, Antonio, and Feghouli all using there pace and skill to ask a few questions of Watford. Antonio won a corner, Feghouli whipped in a superb cross that would have earned West Ham a corner if not for an Antonio foul on Janmaat, and Lanzini made a good run down the left that ended with an easy save by Gomes. In the 30th minute Antonio out muscled Kaboul in the area to win yet another corner, but it was wasted. Questions? Yes. University level? More like grade school, so the students at Watford Elementary weren’t bothered at all.

The visitors wasted another opportunity in the 37th minute when Antonio made one of his freight train runs down the left. Janmaat determined the brick wall approach was his best bet and slammed into the onrushing Antonio, giving West Ham a free kick just outside the box. But Lanzini sent his free kick over the bar instead of into the danger area. With five minutes left in the half, West Ham had sent ten crosses into the box to Watford’s one. The ideas were there. The execution was nowhere to be found.

In the 41st minute, Antonio showed his deft side with a little flick over the head of Britos, which amounted to a pass to himself. His shot was blocked out for a corner, and the corner was of course wasted. Which I’m guessing didn’t surprise anyone at the time.

West Ham should have equalized in first half stoppage time when Feghouli and Cresswell combined on the left. Cresswell took a low shot that Gomes couldn’t keep hold of, but with the ball right in front of Snodgrass he couldn’t get a touch on it and Watford cleared. To be fair, if West Ham had scored there might have been a bit of controversy because Zarate was lying in a near fetal position clutching his knee. The stoppage was so long it turned out to be the longest first half in the league this season, and Zarate’s season unfortunately looks to be over. Pawson was right to allow the game to continue, but more EPL officiating talk would have been front and center if the halftime score had been one all.

Halftime
Watford 1
West Ham 0

West Ham began the second half on the front foot, just as they had been most of the first half, and in the 50th minute the man who gave away the penalty early in the first half should have won one back early in the second. Kouyate tried to chase down a pass on the right side of the Watford box but looked to have been pulled down by Niang. Pawson didn’t see it that way, and from my vantage point the home side looked to have gotten away with one.

In the 59th minute, Lanzini tried to take the game by the scruff of the neck when he ran across the box from right to left and sent a low pass back across the face of goal. It was a short race between Gomes and Antonio as to who would get there first, and Gomes won. The dynamic was pretty clear. The side up one allowed the opponent to control the game while hanging on to their lead.

In the 61st minute, West Ham won another free kick just outside the box. The delivery from Snodgrass was better, and the ball found its way to Fonte. The January signing forced a good save by Gomes with a header destined to find the top corner.

Slaven Bilic made his first substitution in the 65th minute when he inserted Ayew and removed Snodgrass. We’ve questioned our manager’s substations all season, and I’m guessing that pattern continued. We have done reasonably well on set pieces all season. To remove our new main delivery man seemed odd.

In the 69th minute, West Ham should have scored. Cresswell whipped in a cross that Antonio headed wide, despite being in front of goal. Alone. Maybe five feet out. His header would been brilliant had he been a central defender clearing the ball from danger. He likely assumed Britos would clear, and when it got by the Watford defender he wasn’t prepared to finish the chance. An actual striker would certainly have buried it. But that point has been made ad nauseum.

In the 73rd minute, what was both inevitable based on the run of play and unlikely based on us being us, West Ham scored. Ayew sent Antonio to the races with a header that the makeshift striker was able to chase down. His shot beat Gomes. It hit the near post. Then it hit the far post. Then it ricocheted into the center of the box, and low and behold Ayew was there. He calmly slotted it home, and it was time to either close up shop with a point or go for all three.

Watford 1
West Ham 1

It continued to be West Ham on the attack, and in the 83rd minute Lanzini was brought down by Holebas just outside the Watford penalty area. Cresswell’s delivery might make a highlight film of Worst Delivery Of The Year. It was that bad.

The question of what West Ham will do the rest of the match was answered in the 86th minute when Antonio was shown a second yellow and thus a red card for a deliberate handball. So despite Watford barely having a look at Randolph the whole of the second half, the game was there for the taking against a ten man West Ham. And moments after the sending off, Britos was able to get his head on the end of a Watford corner but his attempt went wide.

Despite playing with ten men, the Hammers came close to a second of their own when Cresswell sent a cross that Feghouli had in his sights at the far corner of the Watford goal. If Holebas hadn’t gotten his head there first to send the ball out for a West Ham corner it would have been the visitors celebrating a late, possible winner.

You gotta love the names of characters in movies. They always have totally unrealistic but truly awesome names. Mason Dixon and Clubber Lang in the 638 Rocky films come to mind. I don’t know any football films like that, but tell me Success wouldn’t do the job? In the final moments of the match, West Ham defending for their lives, Deeney flicked the ball towards a diving Randolph. It skipped by the West Ham keeper and into the path of the Success. The dramatic music sounded. The slow motion sounds of the home supporters starting to roar. Cue the star!

The man could have sneezed and the force of whatever flew out of his nostrils might have been enough to push the ball in. Instead, his screen name changed to Failure.

Final Score
Watford 1
West Ham 1

Two points in two matches that we should have or at least could have won without a striker or a right back is not something to necessarily celebrate, but it isn’t something to lament either. I doubt the founders of my country would ever have anticipated the words we hold these truths to be self evident would be used about a football club in the country they wanted no part of anymore. Hey, I love it there. Flying over on Thursday to go to the Chelsea match. But if there ever was a match that encapsulated the argument that we desperately need a proper right back and dependable striker options, it was today. The early Watford penalty might not have happened if an actual right back was defending Zarate in the box. Furthermore, if Sakho or Carroll were marauding in the box when all of those crosses rained in my money says a couple would have ended up in the back of the net. Yet am I confident these issue will finally be addressed?

I hope so, but I’m not holding my breath.

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