David Hautzig's Match Report

Watford 1, West Ham 4. Bottom Of The Top.

Much has been made about the effect money has had on football. Well folks, today at Vicarage Road was quite literally about money and nothing else. Sure, finishing in the top half would be nice. In today’s universe the two million pounds per place in merit payments are nicer. And that’s precisely what we got.

The opening minutes were all Watford. On twenty seconds Deulofeu broke in and beat Fabianski low to his right, but the flag went up. Two minutes later the former Barcelona man again found himself in a dangerous position but likely took his shot a bit early and Fabianski made a routine stop. Five minutes later the pressure continued, with Watford earning a corner. Hughes tried a YouTube worthy bicycle kick but didn’t catch it fully and Fabianski made the save.

West Ham had their first opportunity at the ten minute mark when Antonio won a free kick on the left side of the Watford eighteen yard box. Lanzini stepped up and drilled it right into the first two rows behind the Watford goal. The word “wasteful” came to mind, as well as out of the mouth of Tony Gale on television. At least the ball was on the other end of the pitch for a few minutes.

The last few weeks have seen a rebirth of sorts from Mark Noble. Fantastic performances against both Spurs and Southampton had to quiet the naysayers for a little bit. In the 15th minute, he began a run with a quick give and go with Antonio. When Noble got the ball back thirty yards from goal, the most likely scenario was The Captain looking for a run by Antonio or perhaps Anderson. Going at it alone wasn’t on anyones mind. Other than Noble, that is. A little shoulder dip to his left opened him up for a shot. Which he took. And it beat Foster. It might have been the best open play goal I’ve ever seen Noble score.

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Watford 0
West Ham 1

Watford pressed for an equalizer, and again it was Deulofeu at the heart of the attack. He was on the receiving end of a cross from Pereyra, and did well to create space for himself inside the box to send a left footed shot at Fabianski that didn’t trouble our Hammer Of The Year. Moments later it was Pereyra inside the box that received the ball, but his low shot was right at the Hammers keeper. A minute after that Pereyra broke in on goal after Zabaleta slipped but his shot was blocked out for a corner. The first did nothing but create a second. The second created a throw. The throw was cleared out by Balbuena. But if the tide continued that way West Ham would be in danger of being washed away.

Remember at the start of the pre-season it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Antonio would be sold? Crystal Palace wanted him supposedly. Now, the idea of him leaving is almost unthinkable. He has the ability to use his brute strength to get out of crowded situations when he has no earthly right to do so. In the 39th minute, Noble sent a perfectly weighted ball over the top for Antonio to run onto. He did just that, but his first touch was off. No problem. He just made a new opportunity out of it, fighting his way through a crowd to get off a great shot that clanged off the bar and directly into the path of Lanzini. Thank you very much said the Argentine.

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Watford 0
West Ham 2

The Hornets came oh so close to a goal in the final seconds of the half when a corner kick came to Kabasele, who headed the ball back across the face of goal where Deeney met it. But Fabianski dove down to his right and made a point blank save. “Save of the season” was the text from Nigel.

Halftime
Watford 0
West Ham 2

Zabaleta doesn’t make too many completely boneheaded errors. The start of the second half brought just that. On the opening kick he made an awful attempt at a back pass to Fabianski and instead laid it on a silver platter for Deulofeu who strolled around the keeper and rolled it into the open net only nine seconds from the start.

Watford 1
West Ham 2

Before I could finish the annoying paragraph above, Antonio ran onto a long ball and was brought down by Holebas. The linesman immediately got the attention of the referee, and out came the red card. Harsh if I’m being honest, but I’ve lost all ability for opposition sympathy in my advanced years. West Ham did nothing with the free kick, and Watford came storming downfield. Deulofeu beat Zabaleta, and if he had gone down it could have been red for the Argentine right back. Instead he tried to find Doucoure but Anderson did his defensive work and intercepted the pass and cleared it over the bar for a Watford corner.

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Which team was a man down again?

West Ham tried to reassert their authority by keeping hold of the ball and make Watford run around a bit. Noble eventually made a pass to Arnautovic at the top of the box, and Marko tried a turnaround shot but it went over the bar.

In the 60th minute, Zabaleta again made a horrific mistake in the box that should have cost West Ham a goal. Doucoure grabbed an errant ball from Zabaleta and passed to Gray in front of Fabianski. Masuaku got in the way, Gray went down, and every West Ham supporter likely expected a penalty. It didn’t happen. West Ham broke on a counter attack, with Anderson putting a lovely through ball for Arnautovic in the box. But when he should have shot, he tried one more move. That allowed Cathcart to make a great tackle and clear the ball from danger.

The Hammers should have finished it off in the 68th minute when Antonio headed a ball into the path of Arnautovic, but his shot had no pace and was from a tough angle. Foster had very little trouble.

Remember that match two years ago against Hull when they hit the woodwork four times, and the post was given Man Of The Match? Well, Mr. Lumber was good to us today, except on the attacking end. Zabaleta crossed the ball to Anderson, who volleyed it off the far post. Arnautovic was the first to react, and he dove to get the ball where it needed to be.

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Watford 1
West Ham 3

The visitors should have made it four when Antonio got on the end of a long ball from Anderson. He tried to lob the ball over Foster, but didn’t quite put the ball high enough and Foster grabbed it. But moments later, Fememia clattered into Antonio inside the box and the referee pointed to the box. Noble stepped up and drilled it into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

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Watford 1
West Ham 4

Serious question. What did the club see in Sanchez last summer? Let me know. Thanks.

Final Score
Watford 1
West 4

“Finish joint 7th with the five points we earned but we’re not awarded. Not bad.” was the text I got from my best mate Jon. Usually when I make such complaints to him he says there’s no way we could ever know. All I know is that relegation was not a realistic fear at any reasonable time this season. To that end, along with some very good wins, a top half finish, and a lot of positive play, it can be considered a season of progress. The last time we felt progress was at hand, well, we were given Sofiane Feghouli. But that was then, and this is now. Which means it could be a different approach. I hope so.

I wish all of you a great summer, and I will be back on my sofa in August with my IPad, hoping for greater heights for West Ham.

Cheers.


David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 3, Southampton 0. Carpet-Bagging Three Points.

Such a shame that we can only enjoy the remarkable accomplishment of our board and their new floor covering for two matches this season. Maybe that was always the intention? I mean, isn’t the carpet like a new signing? I’m sure we will see the best of it next year after a full pre season.

Woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Petty rant over.

There are players in this league who succeed almost in spite of themselves. In what other universe do players like Danny Ings and Shane Long keep playing and scoring goals as the world around them moves a lot faster than them. Yet they do. And in the fifth minute we could easily have fallen behind when Ings played a ball to Long on the right side of the West Ham eighteen yard box. Thankfully for the hosts his shot went over the bar.

The only supporter I know that has been virtually 100% supportive of Mark Noble has been Shedman. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say anything critical of the captain. Me? I’ve called for his head dozens of times, probably. But time and time again, he wills himself to be anywhere from useful to invaluable. Last week at Spurs he utterly dominated the midfield. In the 16th minute, he intercepted an errant pass and within a second saw Arnautovic find space in between the Saints center backs. A perfectly weighted ball followed, capped off by Marko’s first goal in months.

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West Ham 1
Southampton 0

Even before the goal, Arnautovic seemed to be coming out of his January induced funk. He made runs, he looked involved. Balbuena sent a long ball around the 20th minuted that Arnautovic just couldn’t bring down properly, but the positioning was there. I still think we should have taken the money and sent him off to China, but if he has to stay I could cope based on what we saw last week and today.

In the 35th minute, Lanzini went on a long run with Antonio and Arnautovic ahead of him in support. The Jewel was eventually stopped before he could find either of his partners. So why mention it? Because Lanzini was launched from the top of the West Ham penalty area by a truly sublime little pass from Noble. It was a thing of beauty, and I wanted to acknowledge it.

As the opening forty five minutes wound down, Southampton looked better. They pressed higher up the pitch, and forced West Ham to look for long balls to relieve the pressure. Noble, Fredericks, and Balbuena all had moments of stress. But the visitors couldn’t find the final ball, and Fabianski wasn’t asked to do much.

The final seconds of the first half almost brought a second West Ham goal, against the run of play. Obiang and Antonio worked the ball on the left side of the Saints penalty area, culminating in Antonio letting go with a low shot that Foster had to dive down to stop.

Halftime
West Ham 1
Southampton 0

Southampton made one change to start the second half, with Redmond coming on for Ings and immediately the change looked to be a good one. Redmond had a point blank shot blocked by Diop, and then Southampton won a corner. Fredericks got the ball near the corner flag, and even though he had time he chose to lob the ball downfield to give West Ham a breather. Southampton came right back down and won two corners in quick succession, the second coming from a crucial block by Antonio in the box. Warning shots had been fired, and how the Hammers responded would dictate the second half and ultimately the match itself.

Diangana has had a good first season in the Premier League. He has shown glimpses of quality, but he has also shown glimpses of youthful indiscretion. Runs into the abyss, passes to black holes. Which, I guess, is understandable. He’s a kid. Without dampening his creativity and guile, I hope Pellegrini works on his composure next season. If he had that today, based on some runs he was able to start but not finish, the game might have been out of reach by the hour mark.

Southampton came inches away from an equalizer in the 64th minute when Redmond sent a volley off of a corner that Fabianski had to palm over the bar at the last moment. The hosts handled the ensuing set piece, but seconds later Long was sent in on goal but for some reason he didn’t shoot. Instead, he ran into Fredericks and hoped for a penalty. What he got was time to look at the sky while West Ham came down and won a corner of their own after Foster got down low to stop a shot from Lanzini.

I have always been superstitious. If I watch us win on a certain television, I make sure to watch the next game in the same room on the same TV. I watched the match today in my basement. However, I was needed by my son in the opening half for a few minutes so I put the game on my IPad. That’s when we scored. So when I was needed again for something in the second half, I grabbed the Ipad again. And that’s when Masuaku sent the cross into the box that Foster made a mess of and Arnautovic headed home.

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Dave’s IPad 2
Southampton 0

When talk started that West Ham would release Wilshere and pay half of his contract rather than give him another season, I scratched my head. He certainly was a bad investment this season, and you could argue that a three year deal was daft. But to my way of thinking, another season was a better choice. And if we see the kind of play from him next year, even in half the matches, that we saw today we will all be happy he is a Hammer. A little back heel to Fredericks sent the right back in for his first league goal of the year.

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Dave’s IPad 2
West Ham 1
Southampton 0

Arnautovic came ohhhhh sooooo close to the hat trick after Perez made a good run down the right and rolled a pass to Marko at the top of the box. When he set himself up for a right footed curler it looked like a third goal was in the books. Alas, it went wide.

Can I say something unpopular? I think keeping Perez might be a good idea. His goals per minute ratio is the best in the side, and I doubt we could get more than 4 million for him. So despite the wages he might be better value for money than a new signing.

Final Score
West Ham 3
Southampton 0

“We should be one point out of 7th” was the text I got from my best mate, Jon in a clear dig at the awful refereeing decisions we have seen of late. I understood the point. I’m usually the one that says such things, and Jon is the one who usually points out that such things are rarely that clear cut. What was clear today was that we treated the final home match of the season with the respect it deserved and turned out the home lights with a good performance and three points.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

Tottenham 0, West Ham 1. Early Bird Special.

Because of where I am from, the many traditions associated with English football don’t mean as much to me as those of you who grew up with it. Saturday 3pm kickoffs, for example, don’t hold any weight for me. But today I would have given up a lot for it. I was shockingly jet lagged from my return on Thursday, and my eyes opened minutes before the start of the match. With one point from our previous matches away from home, sleep might have been the better choice. Not today it turned out.

West Ham started brightly, with Anderson making a good run down the left before the ball eventually made its way to Rice near the top of the Spurs eighteen yard box. His shot was quick but over the bar. The Hammers continued to press, playing the type of football we have rarely seen in the opening moments of a match.

Fabianski will be Hammer Of The Year. Of that I have no doubt. He has made more saves than any keeper in the league. Which is awful news. We clearly still have issues at the back, and if it weren’t for our new keepers heroics we would be a typical West Ham team with a goal differential of -87 or something. The 11th minute gave us yet another example of why the Polish international has been so important when Son was sent in by Alli with a terrific through ball, but Fabianski was up to the task. Minutes later Diop blocked what would have been a dangerous shot from Alli in the box.

Marko Arnautovic has clearly not been himself since January when the China affair dominated Hammer fans everywhere. But some have argued, Nigel Kahn included, that Marko has not gotten any service. That argument was indisputable in the 19th minute when Anderson broke down the left. Had he been a botanist the run would have been impressive because he stared at nothing but the grass the whole time. Had he looked up, he would have seen Arnautovic all alone at the penalty spot. Instead he rolled a useless low shot right at Lloris. Marko was livid, and rightly so.

As the first half progressed, the tone became clear. Spurs would press, West Ham would hold on and hope for a chance to hit them on the break. Strategically it made sense. Practically it was nerve wracking.

Fabianski was again called to the rescue in the 36th minute when a deflected clearance off the foot of Antonio came back to Eriksen right in front of the West Ham keeper. Masuaku had assumed the ball was on its way down the pitch and thus played the Spurs straggler onside. Fabianski went down and smothered the shot.

The first half could have ended on a high note for West Ham when Anderson let loose with a hard shot from 25 yards out. It took a deflection off the derrière of Davies and Lloris had to adjust. Maybe if it had hit the other cheek it would have gone in. We will never know.

Halftime
Tottenham 0
West Ham 0

The Hammers started the second half well, winning two corners in quick succession after good balls into Arnautovic. Unfortunately neither delivery did much to trouble the home side, but it was a good sign to start the second forty five in their half. Minutes later, Arnautovic showed great skill in harnessing a long ball from Fabianski and then getting off a low shot that Lloris handled rather easily. But it showed that if he can get his Austrian head screwed back on straight he might get back to where we know he can be.

Spurs were awarded a free kick from 25 yards out in the 59th minute, and with Eriksen stepping over the ball it was not inappropriate for West Ham hearts to pause. The wall did its job, and West Ham were able to break. Antonio did what he always does, ran like a freight train with no breaks. The ball went to Anderson, pretty much by chance, but his shot was deflected out for a corner. Spurs cleared the set piece, but with half an hour left we were still in it.

A lot was made before the match that Spurs had not conceded a single goal at their new stadium. West Ham made that fact a piece of history when Rice fed Arnautovic on the right side. Antonio began a run into the box, and Marko looped a pass over the Spurs defense to Antonio in the box. Antonio did very well to chest the ball down and set himself for a hard shot that flew last Lloris and into the back of the net.

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Tottenham 0
West Ham 1

Spurs had a great chance to level the score in the 73rd minute when Alli sent a through ball into the box that Davies ran onto, but Fredericks made an excellent tackle to break up the run and allow Fabianski to smother the ball.

After a decent spell on the ball, West Ham gave themselves a chance to double their lead when Arnautovic tried a curling shot from the left side of the Spurs eighteen yard box. Lloris had to dive to his left to make the stop. Moments later a long diagonal ball from Diop found Antonio on the run. He used his speed to break in alone on Lloris and force the save.

When Diop began his run in the 86th minute, you kept waiting for him to pass. He didn’t. His shot came off the side of his foot and dribbled towards Lloris. He could have let it roll wide, but he made sure and pushed it out for a corner. Masuaku had his own break on the left but his ball into the center of the box found nobody in Claret & Blue.

Antonio had yet another chance to put the game away in the 89th minute when he drove in on goal, but one too many touches gave Sanchez the chance to catch him and clear the ball from danger.

Spurs pressed for an equalizer, and in the 94th minute it looked like they had it. And you know, in other years it would have happened. But for reasons I almost cannot fathom, Balbuena was there to clear that shot off the line.

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Final Score
Tottenham 0
West Ham 1

At the end of the match, so many questions went through my mind. Would The Avengers use time travel to defeat Thanos? And if they did, would everyone come back? Will Captain Marvel be a good member of the team? Will she date Thor? Oh. Yeah. I’m on my way to see Endgame now. West Ham’s Endgame is yet to be deciphered.

But today was awesome just the same.


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.


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