David Hautzig's Match Report

Burnley 1, West Ham 2. Are You Ready For The Summer?

Last day of the season. A season that most of us cannot wait to see in our rear view mirror. What could today have offered to at least give us something to pay attention to for 90 minutes? Youth. Almost all of my friends on Twitter and various podcasts have agreed that the additional three million pounds we could earn if we finish 11th, which realistically is the highest we could end up due to goal differential, would pale in comparison to the experience a couple of kids could get. I wanted to do a match report that acted as one of those cameras focused on a single player or two. I wanted to follow Rice or Quina. Calleri’s not even in the squad, so Fletcher should have started, right? Then yesterday David Gold put out that truly idiotic Tweet about not playing kids, which made the starting eleven no shock. Thus, since the result itself was of little consequence I saw no reason to focus on details. If something notable happened, I’ll mention it. To be honest, I’m actually looking forward to things like yard work and laundry on the weekends as opposed to what we have experienced.

In the 6th minute, Feghouli had a decent look at goal after a Lanzini cross and forced a save from Heaton. I’m undecided on Feghouli. Good article the other day on The West Ham Way about him. Worth a read if you haven’t seen it.

Cresswell has not had a memorable campaign. No news there. A lot has been down to poor decisions. Like in the 14th minute when he was sent in by Ogbonna down the left. But he tried a low cross that The Road Runner wouldn’t have reached let alone Ayew, while Snodgrass was unmarked ten yards out from goal. The former Hull man looked rightfully annoyed.

23rd minute. Poor touch from Lanzini led to Burnley counter. Burnley counter led to poor defending from West Ham. Poor defending from West Ham led to Vokes goal.

Burnley 1
West Ham 0

Whoa. In the 24th minute West Ham looked very good in scoring an equalizer. Fernandes threaded a ball in between a bunch of Burnley defenders to find Ayew, who back heeled the ball to Feghouli running into the box, and the Algerian Freebie finished it. Take a bow guys.

Burnley 1
West Ham 1

Bobby Madley stinks. He really stinks. Westwood should have been sent off in the 31st minute for a high boot into Ginge’s thigh. And that was just one of many reasons the man should consider a career change.

OK Sofiane. I want to like you. I even think there’s an argument that in a stronger side you could be valuable. But considering how good your finish was to score, your sky bound shot in the 33rd from the same area was terrible.

Halftime
Burnley 1
West Ham 1

For all the complaining we do about offside calls, I must say it’s a tough job for the linesman. Early in the second half Ayew was flagged offside and I had no idea how that could be. He was. Other than 100% video technology taking over that call I cannot see how it can improve.

Remember what I said about Feghouli before? How he might be with more quality around him? Ayew might be the same. Clever players need more clever players around them. Their minds work on different wavelengths than players who get “stuck in”. Both are needed. I’m just stream of consciousness writing now.

Something occurred to me around minute 65 when Byram made a nice sliding tackle to break up a Burnley counter and then headed the ball clear from inside our eighteen-yard box. He’s a good young player. I’d be more than happy with him as our second choice right back next season. Slaven was wrong, in my opinion, to screw with the kids confidence by playing everyone but Jack Sullivan at right back earlier in the year.

Back to Ayew. The man is lucky. Which is fine. Famous quote here from an old baseball manager, “I’d rather be lucky than good”. He likely is both. But when the ball bounced softly off the crossbar after a good effort from Fernandes, all Ayew had to do was stand there and put it in. He’s had similar good fortunes not hiding this season.

Burnley 1
West Ham 2

You know what I felt when Lanzini stepped up to take a free kick from 25 yards out in the 82nd minute? The same kind of excited energy I felt when Darth Dimitri used to step up. That’s gotta be a good sign.

Four minutes of added time? From what? At least Rice will have made his senior debut for us in those mysterious minutes.

Final Score
Burnley 1
West Ham 2

We won on the last day of the season for the first time in years. We finished 11th on 45 points. We ended eleven points clear of the drop zone, in stark contrast to the fear I felt going into the Spurs match two weeks ago as Swansea was surging and we were dropping. In a vacuum, that’s not that bad for a season of utter turmoil and angst.

But we don’t live in a vacuum, do we?

There is no way any of you are more interested in what happened at Turf Moor today than what will happen behind the scenes in Stratford starting tomorrow. Bilic in or Bilic out? Batshuayi? Zabaleta? A new keeper? That guy from Belgium? All possible ingredients in what we hope will be a better meal next season. Or as some believe, more decoys while less expensive options are worked on behind the scenes to serve us dressed up fast food.

Here I go again with my damned metaphors. And to make it more annoying, I’m going to delve into my silly food comparisons again.

Our board say they will build a Michelin Starred operation. I believe they sincerely want that to happen. But when chefs set out to do that, they never compromise on the food they use. Every detail is meticulously thought out. Things we might consider mundane, like butter or onions, are sourced as if the success of the entire operation rests on that choice. If something costs more, they simply build that into their financial structure. Guests at such restaurants accept that as part of the deal and don’t blink when the bill comes.

This is not a judgment on my part. Our board do not have to do such things if they don’t want to, or have concluded they can’t based on their comfort level with the financial reality at the club. They are, by and large, good businessmen. Karen Brady could not have achieved what she has without being a very smart woman. If they do spend large sums of money on fees and wages to attract players we would be genuinely excited, and probably a little shocked to see join, then that would be a departure from their past. Can it happen? Yes. Should we expect it? Only if disappointment is an emotion you seek out.

I think Slaven will be back. I think the board will be more judicious in their dealings with the press and supporters regarding transfers this summer. But next season I will only expect a meal that I enjoy, served in a timely manner by pleasant and professional servers. Anything beyond that will be treated as a pleasant surprise.

Have a good summer.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 0, Liverpool 4. Yeah, Well. Whatever.

My penchant for metaphors will take a slightly dark turn today.

Pain and discomfort. What makes those unpleasant feelings and moments bearable is the unbelievable relief and catharsis one feels after those episodes are done. This season has been like a horrible case of bedspins, whether the result of the flu or far too many beverages that I sell for a living. You roll around in bed, the room rolling like you’re on a cruise from hell, promising your maker that you will be eternally grateful if he/she will simply allow you to find a single position where the world will just stop moving. Finally, after you’ve resigned yourself to being sick and miserable until rapture, it stops. The sweat that had been pouring out of you as if your skin was a colander draining pasta dries up. You stop groaning. Your heart rate calms down. You feel…..OK.

That was Friday night.

Today brought us something that I don’t recall feeling too many times this season. The ability to simply watch and enjoy a bit of West Ham football. At least for me it did. That was, however, before the match actually started.

For all of our lifetime pain against Liverpool, we came into today unbeaten in five against them. That collective optimism was on display in the opening minutes. The home side looked to have its tail up, and in the 7th minute Calleri continued his relatively decent form of late when he spotted Byram streaking down the right and laid a well timed ball for the young right back to run onto. But instead of opening his East London account his shot went wide.

Moments later, Liverpool came inches away from taking an early lead when Coutinho delivered a corner kick onto Matip’s hairline. The ball bounced in front of Adrian and off the crossbar before going out for a second corner. A couple of minutes later, signing of the season Fernandes (a dubious honor if there ever was one) sent a long low shot that nobody expected. Certainly not Mignolet. But the Liverpool keeper reacted just on time to push the ball out for a corner.

I was slightly annoyed at the early action because I was also needed to cook a Mothers Day breakfast. Bacon, egg and cheese soft tacos. Made Carnitas de Puerco last night for dinner and we had leftover, homemade tortillas. Man, they were good. Running back and forth between bacon and an IPad is a tough job on a Sunday morning.

What makes the EPL so much different than other leagues? In the 20th minute, Lanzini danced his way to the top of the Liverpool penalty area but looked to have been pushed over. He wanted a foul, Swarbrick wanted him to get up. A moment later, Lanzini gave a little shoulder love to Coutinho on the other end of the pitch to regain possession. The lesson there, Mr. Calleri, is that if you don’t like the officiating you are better off taking matters into your own hands than moaning about it.

Coutinho is a very clever player. His cheeky free kick under the jumping wall last season in the FA Cup replay at Upton Park allowed me to see that up close and personal. In the 35th minute, he cleverly threaded a ball through the West Ham defense. I wasn’t the only one watching the ball head to Sturridge. Fonte watched as well, instead of having any awareness of what was going on. If he hadn’t gazed, he might have stepped up and put Sturridge offside. Nigel texted me from the stadium to see if the linesman got it right, and he wasn’t surprised when I told him yes.

West Ham 0
Liverpool 1

The goal galvanized and energized Liverpool, while West Ham looked more like the lost souls they had been for much of the season. In the 41st minute Matip again had a free header off a corner but this time it went over the bar instead of into it. Thank heavens for small favors.

If we hadn’t assured ourselves safety by now, I might have done some serious harm to myself in the 45th minute. West Ham won a corner when Clyne played it safe and sent a looping cross behind the net. Lanzini’s inswinger made its way to Ayew alone in front of the net. Two feet, max. He hit the base of the post. And if that wasn’t surreal enough, he got another chance while sitting on his arse. The second shot again hit the bar and rolled across the line before Mignolet smothered it.

Halftime
West Ham 0
Liverpool 1

As the second half got underway, the visitors looked intent on increasing their lead as opposed to protecting it. West Ham still looked shocked that Ayew didn’t level the match. First, Origi sent a powerful shot from the edge of the area that forced Adrian to make a good save. That was followed by saves on Lallana and Wijnaldum. Is there such a thing as a hat trick on saves?

Liverpool continued to ask the only questions of the second forty five when Wjinaldum tried to find Sturridge with a cross. Fonte put it out for a corner, but it was a comically sloppy slice. Maybe that was the moment Bilic decided he had seen enough and made a double switch. Calleri out for Fletcher and Fonte out for Feghouli.

Two minutes after the substitutions that we hoped would galvanize our side, the job got twice as hard. Wijnaldum fired a shot from 25 yards out that bounced off the crossbar. Reid tried to clear the ball from danger, but his backwards header fell right to Coutinho. A move to his left, a wiggle to his right, and the ball in the back of the net.

West Ham 0
Liverpool 2

To his credit, Feghouli made a bit of an impact right away. Not on the scoresheet, obviously, but he did move the ball well. He sent Byram down the right on an overlapping run that ended in a cross that Mignolet had to punch out. Seconds later, he sent a shot towards goal that was deflected out for a corner.

On that corner, Wijnaldum caught Reid in the face with an unintentional forearm. Reid went down in the Liverpool box, clutching his face. The ball also looked to have struck Wijnaldum’s aforementioned forearm. Head injury, hand ball. Two reasons for Swarbrick to blow the whistle. Nope. Play continued, and Coutinho scored again. We will never know if anything would have changed had Swarbrick not made a mockery of the situation. But it was a stunningly bad bit of refereeing in my opinion.

West Ham 0
Liverpool 3

I can’t really tell you how Liverpool scored their fourth. By the look of it, neither could many of the supporters who had already left Stratford. I was busy making coffee for me and my daughter. 15 years old and she likes a good cup of coffee. You know, Origi sounds like it could be a type of coffee, doesn’t it? I’ll have a cup of the Nicaraguan Origi, please. Cream and sugar. Cheers.

Full Time
West Ham 0
Liverpool 4

It would have been nice to at least look a little useful on the back of the fantastic result against Spurs last week. Instead, we were reminded of how forgettable this season was and how lucky we are to have another shot in the top flight next year.

Time to start planning Mothers Day dinner.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 1, Spurs 0. Joyfully Speechless.

At its core, psychotherapy is meant to help a person manage whatever issues need managing by getting them out in the open for honest and forthright conversation. Perhaps one of you is a pro in this honorable field. Regardless, I’m on the couch. Figuratively, that is.

Because I’m a mess. Shouldn’t be, but I am. I blame Tom Rennie of TalkSPORT. Last week we argued that there was no realistic chance of us going down. He maintained we would get no points from our remaining games while Swansea had a good chance of grabbing the maximum. He really pissed me off. But that chat had me terrified, and it ruined my entire day today.

Two hours before kickoff I was at my doctor’s office. Yearly checkup with blood work, change the oil, rotate the tires. The works.

“Are you under any extra stress?” he asked.

“Absolutely” I replied, starting at the floor.

“Riiiight. Your dad, settling the estate. I’m sure that’s rough” he said thoughtfully. I was about to correct him, but that would have launched a diatribe including words like Feghouli and Calleri that could easily have been mistaken for some bacteria picked up from spoiled poultry.

I nodded instead.

At 2pm my time, the lineups were announced. At 2:02pm I was at a red light. Now that my IPhone is mounted on one of those suction cup things on my windshield it took no more than a quick touch of Twitter. The honking of the Range Rover behind me slapped me out of my Noble for Nordtveit and Calleri still starting instead of Fletcher shock.

As kickoff approached, I had to open a bottle of Cahors for a customer. Any Malbec fans out there? If so, Lanzini’s countrymen deserve much credit for bringing that ancient grape to international prominence. But did you know it’s a French variety? It’s one of the five red grapes of Bordeaux, and Cahors is a small town where Malbec is still king. The Black Ink Wines Of Cahors as they’ve been referred to. It was good, too. Customer thought I didn’t like it myself because I was shaking my head while staring at the glass. If I can’t explain Feghouli to my doctor there’s no way to explain Calleri or Nordtveit to a wine director.

I listened to the first half in the car driving to get my daughter from school. When Lanzini chose to shoot instead of passing to Calleri, the announcer said it was a bad decision. If Lanzini had fed his fellow Argentine, he would have scored moaned the radio guy.

Guy hasn’t watched much of him has he?

Adrian sounded like he made a stop worthy of Henrik Lundqvist of The New York Rangers hockey team on Kane, and if radio can tell a story the first half sounded like we had energy and verve, and Spurs had movement and skill. All in equal parts, thus an even 45 minutes.

As the second half started, I started driving home with my daughter. Thankfully, she wanted to wear her headphones and listen to music so I was able to keep the game on without argument. And before you say “you’re the adult, you listen to whatever you want”, remember what I was dealing with. A 15 year old girl. After a geometry test. Sopping wet from rain. Not so simple after all, huh?

As I walked into my house, I turned on the kitchen TV. No way I was going to start actually watching this thing, taking notes, pretending to be a reporter. My ten year old son was returning home from his first ever overnight school trip, and he wanted spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. I make very, good, meatballs. Wife makes very, good, sauce. Don’t make fresh pasta. Sorry. Normally when a ball falls into the opposition’s eighteen yard box and bounces around, Lady Luck laughs at us. Ayew, Calleri, then it would be booted away. Right? As the ball fell to The Jewel, my hands were covered in raw beef. Eggs, fresh breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper by the way. Keep it simple.

Boom. West Ham 1, those guys bubkus.

I pumped my fist in the air, causing roughly….ohhhhh…..maybe a quarter worth of meatball to fly in the air and land on the floor. Laminate, so very easy to clean. Still got nine good sized meatballs into the roasting dish to cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. After that I finish cooking in the sauce.

I’ve been mocking Calleri here. We all have. But in fairness, he played well from what I heard and saw. He could have made it 2-0, but Lloris made a great save. Can’t fault the kid for that.

My son walked through the door with nine minutes to go. My nerves were beyond frayed, but I had to turn my attention to him. With one eye on him as he told me about the trip, the other eye glanced at the TV. Five minutes added? What the f&$k!?!?

The bus ride was fun? Ohhhhh goooooood. Blow the damned whistle, Taylor! Pizza for lunch at a rest stop? How fuuuuuuunnnnnn!

YES!!!!!

Against all odds and rational thought, we beat the in-form team in the league. We likely destroyed their title hopes. We guaranteed our top flight status. We kind of christened a home.

After the final whistle, I got a couple of Tweets that made me smile. ExWHUemployee chided me, saying “I told you David now will you calm down please”. Darren Turner was simpler in his admonishment of my neurosis, simply asking “Now will you believe”? I’m looking forward to Nigel’s text or call.

I gave the kid a hug so hard he probably got the wind knocked out of him. My boy was home, my team was safe.

Sauce needs to simmer a bit.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

Stoke 0, West Ham United 0. Almost There.

The single strangest thing I have ever seen in football was against Stoke when Ricardo Fuller got sent off for slapping his teammate Andy Griffin. To make it even more bizarre, West Ham won the match on a late goal by….still cannot fathom it….Diego Tristan. Considering Pulis was in charge of The Potters back then I’m a little surprised Fuller wasn’t found by the maintenance crew in the changing room sometime late that evening shoved into a shower drain. Ahhh, the good old days. When teams other than us created headlines that made you scratch your head and say “no way”!

Despite the mathematical advantages West Ham enjoyed going into today’s match against a struggling Stoke side, there had to be a lingering fear. We lose, Swansea pull off an upset at Old Trafford, and we are potentially in huge trouble. Then again, Mourinho couldn’t lose such a match, could he? And if the Mancs won, and we got a draw, then it could be done and dusted because of goal differential. My mind was spinning needlessly.

The opening moments were nervous from West Ham, punctuated by some sloppy defending by the one guy you figured was immune to such issues. Ginge. Then in the 9th minute Stoke should have opened the scoring when Berahino took a pass right in front of Adrian, but without an important block by Reid it would have been 1-0 to the home side. I determined that time was best served by making omelet’s for the kids. Swiss and a little ham. Pun not intended.

Quick point about the pitch. Based on the first 20 minutes or so, you wouldn’t have been thought to be too insane if you wondered if it was iced over. Players for both sides were slip sliding away left and right. It didn’t help that West Ham literally couldn’t complete a pass. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t find a thing to write about.

In the 24th minute, Muniesa fouled Kouyate about 25 yards from goal. Already on a yellow, Muniesa may have felt a bit anxious but a free kick was all that was awarded. The delivery from Lanzini was good and headed out for a corner by Johnson. The corner wasn’t as good and Stoke cleared the ball from danger. Moments later Calleri had the chance to right many of the wrongs he’s been accused of when Fernandes found him in the box with a low pass. Yes, the pass was behind him. But a striker with any confidence at all would have known he had the half second needed to control the pass and line up a good shot. Calleri’s effort sailed high and wide.

In the 31st minute it was Reid again to the rescue, this time with Fonte as his sidekick. Allen made a run down the right and tried to pick out Berahino in front of goal. But Reid and Fonte together cleared the ball away before Berahino could even touch it. Moments later, Masuaku sent in a cross from the left that Ayew met with a perfectly timed bicycle kick. Butland made the save, and while it was a good save to be sure the shot was virtually right next to him. So credit was due to Masuaku, Ayew, and Butland in equal parts.

So. Do I mention the great ball into the box by Lanzini for Calleri in the 37th minute? Or do I mention Calleri not even getting a shot on target? Or do I pretend it never happened? Yeah. I like the last option.

Ahhh, youth. Energy, enthusiasm. And impetuousness. In the 42nd minute, Lanzini rolled a pass to Fernandes just inside the Stoke penalty area on the right. The disconnect between the brain and feet were evident when Fernandes put his shot high over the bar. Minutes later Collins sent a beautiful long pass over the Stoke defense for Calleri. The Argentine tried to find Ayew streaking down the middle but Shawcross made an important block. The ball, however, only rolled a few feet away and Calleri decided, for reasons he will only understand, to try a rabona kick when, I don’t know, his left foot would have been more than adequate with a touch and a shot at an open net.

I give up.

Halftime
Stoke 0
West Ham 0

The second half started with a substitution from West Ham. It just wasn’t the one we expected, and it was likely the one we would have wanted the least. Masuaku out (likely due to injury), Cresswell in, Calleri still there. And within seconds Allen put Cresswell under pressure down the right but his shot hit the side netting. Moments later, Kouyate and Ayew created a chance out of nothing when an intercepted pass to Ayew deflected into the path of Kouyate inside the Stoke eighteen yard box. Kouyate tried a low shot towards the far post that just missed. Stoke came right back down when Arnautovic tried to pick out Shaqiri in front of goal but his shot went wide.

Stoke kept up the pressure in the 56th minute when Adrian blocked a Shaqiri shot over the bar for a Stoke corner. The delivery came into the box and bounced around like the ping pong balls in the Champions League draw before being cleared. A minute later West Ham were awarded a free kick after Arnautovic fouled Fernandes. Lanzini lofted the set piece into the box where Fonte met it with a weak header that went wide. If any West Ham player had tried a run to the far post it might have ended up in the back of the net. But what do I know about coaching set pieces?

Ahem.

The pace of the match kept up, and Adrian made two good saves in a matter of minutes. First on a low, swirling shot from Allen. Then the reinstated Spaniard made a diving stop to his right on a shot from Berahino. It was at that moment I made my deal with the almighty for a draw. Would he/she listen?

In the 64th minute, Butland was forced to make two fine saves. First, after Kouyate made a good interception and sent Ayew forward, Butland made a diving save to his left to keep Ayew off the score sheet. Then a bouncing ball in the box found Lanzini in front but Butland got his left foot in front of Lanzini’s header.

Bilic then made the kind of substitution that led me to believe he made a similar deal with his maker, removing Ayew for Noble in what could only be described as a “respect the point” move. Other managers would have been persecuted for such a move. Not that I am judging it on its merit or lack thereof, but it was odd at best. At the same time, Hughes sent in Crouch in what could only be described as a “go for it at home” move. I had a bad feeling about it right away.

For all of Butland’s good saves all game, Adrian made the stop of the day up to that point when a sloppy Collins pass was intercepted by Shaqiri. Almost immediately he sent a looping cross into the box that Arnautovic chested down and volleyed towards Adrian. Perhaps it was at such close quarters that Arnautovic had little angle to work with, but Adrian made the stop and then pushed the ball from danger while falling backwards into the goal.

In the 88th minute, as the ball came off Shaqiri’s left foot towards the waiting totem pole named Crouch, tell me you didn’t see your life flash before your eyes. I did. But thankfully the cross was slightly behind him and his header went lazily over the bar.

In the final seconds of four minutes of added time, Stoke were awarded a free kick when Kouyate was ruled to have fouled Adam. West Ham were able to clear the delivery from danger, and as Stoke tried one last effort down the right Probert blew his whistle

Final Score
Stoke City 0
West Ham 0

Overall, West Ham probably had the better chances to win today. But I made my deal and I’m sticking with it. I’ll respect, even embrace, the point. I have rarely watched Manchester United and pulled for them to win. But we needed them in last years FA Cup Final and we could use them tomorrow. If they win, it’s effectively over even if we lose our final three games.

Never has a -15 goal differential looked so sweet.

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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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