David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 0, Tottenham 1. We Deserved Something.

When we lose, which I know is often, I often shut football out of my life for rest of the weekend. I don’t watch any other matches, I don’t read any blogs or sites (sorry Iain), and I certainly stay off Twitter in terms of West Ham. So a loss on a Friday before an international break gave me a whole extra day to be angry. Definitely not something I needed. You know what I did? I watched baseball. The Red Sox in particular. I’m not a Sox fan per se. I’m a Mets fan. But the enemy of your enemy is your friend, and in that regard I’m a Red Sox guy all the way. And Boston has plowed through the opposition with delicious rage, and it has allowed me to kind of pretend what it feels like to support a team that used to define suffering but now wins. Boy, would that be nice.

The opening minutes were full of energy if not quality. Snodgrass ran like he wanted to show that ground covered was the most important statistic known to man. Arnautovic as always tried to make runs behind the Spurs defense. On the other side Moura showed energy and a willingness to test Zabaleta. The first real opportunity came in the 11th minute when Spurs won a corner from a deflected shot by Sissoko. Fabianski came out to punch the delivery away for a Spurs throw, but eventually it all died down thanks to an offside flag.

Moments later West Ham created a chance of their own. Arnautovic tried to attack inside the box but Sanchez timed his tackle perfectly. Yarmolenko got to the ball and lofted it into the box, and Alderweireld took the safe route and sent it out for a corner. Anderson’s delivery was poor, yet it somehow led to a second corner. Unfortunately the second delivery was worse than the first.

The Cresswell v Masuaku debate isn’t a simple one. Defensively it’s a clear advantage for Cresswell. But Masuaku can be as good on the ball as anyone in Claret and Blue. With Masuaku having supposedly taken a knock, Cresswell was called back into action at left back. In the 21st minute he nutmegged Dier and won a free kick. The delivery found Arnautovic in the box to right of the goal, but Arnie seemed caught in the middle of either a pass or a shot and he did neither as the ball flew over the bar and out for a goal kick.

Embed from Getty Images

And moments later Anderson’s third corner was remarkably worse than the previous two. At that rate he looked destined to eventually score an own goal from a Hammers corner.

Defending can often be overlooked by the media and many supporters during a transfer window. In the 27th minute Kane got the ball near the West Ham eighteen yard box and looked certain to get a clear shot on goal. But then came Diop, and the 21 year old made the kind of tackle and clearance in the box that was as valuable as a goal. The combination of Diop and Balbuena is quite literally the best thing that happened to West Ham over the summer. I think.

Embed from Getty Images

In the 38th minute, West Ham won another corner. I had hoped to be able to make some snide comment about another poor Anderson corner. Pellegrini took that chance away from me when Snodgrass took the set piece, and it was indeed better. Balbuena got his head to it, and it bounced towards Yarmolenko near the far post. The Ukrainian tried to find his feet and the ball, but the former failed him. His right foot looked to collapse under him and he went down. At first I thought ankle, but the word on the street leaned towards achilles. From the look of it, whatever it was we won’t be seeing him anytime soon.

The only semi positive was that Pellegrini chose to give Diangana the spot over Antonio.

Embed from Getty Images

The first 40minutes of the half were fine by our standards. The final five were more typical. The loss of Yarmolenko started it. Then in the 44th minute, Anderson’s horrible day got worse when Sissoko turned him inside out before sending a pass into the box that Lamela guided past Fabianski with his head.

West Ham 0
Tottenham 1

Moments later West Ham were very, very fortunate not to give up a second when Lamela beat Diop on the right side of the box. Fabianski made a great stop, but couldn’t hold onto the ball and pushed it right to Sanchez. But Fabianski was up to the challenge and made another fine save to keep the deficit at one.

Halftime
West Ham 0
Tottenham 1

The second half began with Cresswell giving Pellegrini reason to think he may be a good fit after all when he won the ball deep in the Spurs half and sent a cross into the box that Arnautovic headed towards the top corner. Only a diving Lloris save kept the Hammers off the scoreboard.

In the 52nd minute, it looked almost certain Anderson could do nothing well this afternoon. So when he ran the ball out for a Spurs throw, with nobody around him, I decided the only way to deal with the Brazilian today was to embrace the horror and hope for better down the road. He was replaced by Chicharito, who hadn’t played for seven weeks due to a viral infection. That kind of said it all.

For Snodgrass to come back to us after his loan spell at Villa, with all of the inappropriate nonsense thrown at him by our de facto DOF owner, and work his socks off the way he has says a lot about his character. In the 57th minute he won a corner by sheer will. Minutes later, West Ham won a second after Lloris made another diving save on a low shot by Arnautovic. The set piece delivery by the Scot was good enough to land on the head of Balbuena but the attempt went wide.

West Ham won their 8th corner of the afternoon in the 71st minute, once again due to the hard work of Snodgrass. The delivery hit Diop in the box but his header went wide. The relevant point there was the number 8. And less than half of them led to even an attempt on goal, let alone on target. Needless to say, we need to do far better on set pieces.

As the game wound down, West Ham continued to work hard, close down, and make Spurs work to keep their advantage. But they didn’t have enough at the very end to find the equalizer. The offside goal worked by Arnautovic and Hernandez showed what could be, but so often isn’t. Then in added time Arnautovic was sent in by Hernandez and Lloris made an exceptional save to keep Spurs on top. In the final seconds Antonio fired a long shot that went over the bar. It was both terribly frustrating and not entirely surprising.

Embed from Getty Images

Final Score
West Ham 0
Tottenham 1

We probably don’t have as many points so far as we deserve. But isn’t that also The West Ham Way? The next twelve league matches will come against teams outside the top six. In all likelihood those matches will give us all a better idea of where we deserve to be in the table.

Back to baseball.


David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 3, Manchester United 1. The Better Team Won. Deal With It, World.

I like to start these reports with a fun anecdote or passage. Maybe a feeble attempt at being clever. But after having to pick my daughter up from an event at her college at around 11pm, then waking up a few minutes before kickoff to inhale a coffee, I’m too damned tired. So here’s all I have;

Diangana got a place on the bench. That’s nice.
Whoa. No Cresswell.
And Arnie’s back.

More coffee please.

While this might sound a bit odd, for the first few minutes of the match we actually looked like the home side. We dominated possession, we pushed forward, and we asked a few questions. That has rarely happened at home against top sides of late. In the sixth minute, it all came together when Zabaleta saved the ball from going out for a Manchester United throw and got the ball to Noble. The Captain immediately sent the ball forward for Zabaleta, who got back up like he had springs in his boots. The steady as a rock right back sent a low cross to Anderson, who guided the ball behind deGea with the heel of his right foot. If a goal could be described as Brazilian, that was one. Replays showed a possibility of offside, but Nolan was onside at Old Trafford a few years ago so I really don’t give a toss.

Embed from Getty Images

West Ham 1
Manchester United 0

So many of us, me included, have predicted the end of Mark Noble. So in the 16th minute when Martial started a run that could have been the start of something dangerous a perfectly timed tackle by Noble put a stop to that. A minute later, West Ham’s ultimate nemesis Lukaku began one of his freight train runs at the Hammers defense. But the thing about freight trains is that if they hit a wall, they stop. We have a wall named Diop, and he stopped the train.

The fact was, however, that the visitors were coming into the game. And it was down the left at the expense of Masuaku. In the 23rd minute a cross from Young made it to Lukaku, but his header just missed off the outside of the post.

After the bright start, West Ham looked to revert to attempted balls over the top. Unfortunately they were no more than wings and prayers that ended up back in the possession of Manchester United. While our defense has looked solid of late, the flow of the match at the half hour mark was not something we would have wanted to live with for the last hour.

Manchester United won their first corner of the match in the 38th when a long shot by Pogba went off Balbuena. The delivery did nothing but create a second corner, and that one was eventually cleared by Masuaku despite a rather feeble attempt by Shaw to win a penalty.

Hey. I like flicks, trick, and dips as much as anyone. But to my eye, West Ham have tried too many of them this season in and around the eighteen yard box. And they have rarely if ever led to a shot on target. That lesson might have been learned in the 43rd minute when Arnautovic and Anderson tried a good old fashioned one-two in the box. The ball to Anderson was just inches off, but it led to a corner. Anderson’s delivery curled into the box like it was drawn on a telestrator. Diop’s header didn’t have anything on it, but the ball went to Yarmolenko. Despite the entire Western World knowing that unlike George Castanza (I wonder who will get that specific American TV reference) he only goes left, he moved to his left. His shot deflected off Lindelof and into the back of the net.

Embed from Getty Images

Halftime
West Ham 2
Manchester United 0

How many times have we seen West Ham win a corner and completely screw it up? To see another team do that, let alone Manchester United, was kind of amusing. In the 50th minute Young gave the ball directly to Noble from a corner in such a way that it even started a West Ham counterattack. With Arnautovic screaming for the ball, Noble gave it to Anderson who then sent it across to Arnautovic. But by that time Arnie looked to have lost the idea he had a second earlier and sent a wayward shot into the crowd.

The 58th minute put West Ham hearts into a defibrillation when Martial seemed to have no problem dancing around any number of West Ham defenders on the end line. He then attempted a pass that deflected off of Rice and across the face of goal before being cleared by Balbuena.

The 60th minute, or thereabouts, is the current witching hour for Arnautovic. That’s the point in recent matches he has grabbed his knee, or his ankle, or his ribs. So when he did it again today nobody could have been very surprised. The fact that he stayed on was possibly as surprising.

Moments later the visitors should have gotten a goal back. Fabianski had other ideas. Young sent a cross into the box that hit Fellaini right in the middle of his furry head. The header was powerful, and it was low. It should have beaten Fabianski. I think it would have beaten Adrian. But our new number one went down with a strong right hand and kept it out of the net.

In the 68th minute West Ham came very close to extending their tenuous lead…..come on, all of our leads tenuous….when Anderson tried to feed Arnautovic in the box but the pass just missed. Three minutes later the Manchester United goal that looked to be coming finally came when a Luke Shaw corner was flicked in by Rashford. While it’s fair to complain from our point of view that nobody was guarding the near post it was still a fine finish.

West Ham 2
Manchester United 1

Embed from Getty Images

The football world will try to kill off Mark Noble until he actually hangs up his boots. Today, he put in a deserved MOTM performance. While I’m not sure why every Manchester United player stood still in the 74th minute when Noble got the ball near the center of the pitch, thankfully Arnautovic kept moving. Noble saw the run, gave him the ball, and Arnie calmly rolled it in. And while I shouldn’t laugh at such things, Arnie thumping deGea on the back of the head after the ball went in definitely made me chuckle. I feel shame.

No. I don’t.

Embed from Getty Images

West Ham 3
Manchester United 1

As balls came into the box over the final 15 minutes, Fabianski came out to grab almost all of them. His command of his area is something we have been lacking for as long as I can remember. Robert Green had a couple of very fine years, but corners and crosses still caused stress. It’s almost as if I haven’t known the calm associated with a goalkeeper like that along with a young, tall, talented pair of central defenders. To me, that spine is what has turned us around and what could power us forward.

In the 93rd minute, Pellegrini rewarded the young Diangana for his exploits on Wednesday with a Premier League debut. I recall another youngster getting his debut against the big red machine at home, and I think it was also in the 93rd minute. He’s gone on to do quite well for us. Maybe history will repeat itself?

Final Score
West Ham 3
Manchester 1

Right before the final whistle, I got a text from my best mate Jon. “This is more about us than them, but the press will obsess about Man U in crisis”. At least here on NBC, that’s exactly what Robbie Mustoe, Robbie Earle and Alan Shearer (no clue why he was there) focused on. Rebecca Lowe even said it outright. But we were the deserved winners. Plain and simple. Maybe even more importantly was something Jon Champion said when he noted that The London Stadium sounded and felt a bit like Upton Park today.

If true, that’s as valuable as the three points.


David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 0, Chelsea 0. Sometimes Decent Is Good.

On the face of it, today didn’t have the feel of disaster like so many weekend mornings do. West Ham apparently have never lost their opening three games at home, which is pretty surprising when you consider how many bad things have happened to the club. Add to that our recent relative success against Chelsea and the day had a rather relaxed feel by our standards. Then, an hour before kickoff, the news we were all afraid of but probably discounted became reality. No Arnie. While I wanted to soothe myself by thinking we had options and that the confidence from last week would make up for it, the fact is that without Arnautovic we don’t score as much. One statistic said of the last 15 goals we have scored the Austrian was involved in 11. Instead, the mercurial Antonio would lead the line today. Like Mercury, that situation could ebb and flow quickly based on the temperature around the pitch. In the end, both side had chances, ours were a bit better, and we can spend the day with one more point than we had when we woke up.

Embed from Getty Images

The first thing that was noticeable had nothing to do with the action on the pitch, but the inaction around it. The number of empty seats in the lower tiers at The London Athletics Stadium was glaring. I know, it’s pointless to keep saying it. But I did.

West Ham showed better than expected composure on the ball early on, building an attack with short crisp passing. Such things usually end with a bad touch, or a panic stricken hoof upfield. Not that it led to anything, nor was it long lasting, but it was nice to see for a wee bit.

West Ham were let off the hook slightly in the 9th minute when Chelsea won a corner. The delivery into the box found Giroud, but he didn’t get the contact he wanted and the ball bounced harmlessly to Fabianski. The Blues in Yellow kept up the attack, with Rudiger testing the new West Ham Number one keeper with a long shot that posed no real threat. Moments later Willian sent Hazard into the box with a lovely back heel pass but again Fabianski was up to the task.

The home side finally looked like a football team with a notion of attacking in the 20th minute when a long cross field pass found Anderson on the left and his run forced Chelsea to concede a corner. It would have been nice if the delivery into the box had been useful, or if West Ham created something from Luiz’s weak clearance. Alas, it was a mini false dawn.

In the 30th minute West Ham launched their first real counter attack when Anderson showed the ball handling skill he is known for as he worked himself clear down the left. He rolled a ball forward for Antonio to attack, which he did but his shot went over the bar. Minutes later West Ham were back on the front foot with Yarmolenko on the right. The ball found Antonio alone in the box but with such a tight angle he could only try to power the ball past Kepa. He didn’t succeed. At that moment it was hard not to at least wonder what would have happened had Arnautovic been up front in those two counters, because despite the clear advantage in possession to the visitors West Ham had the two clearest scoring chances of the half.

The final minute of the half put West Ham hearts in mouth when Hazard passed to Willian on the right side of the West Ham eighteen yard box. Willian then crossed to Kante but his weak header went weakly wide.

The first half ended with no additional time added. None. I don’t think I have ever seen that.

Halftime
West Ham 0
Chelsea 0

Felipe Anderson did something early in the second half that made me smile. He went shoulder to shoulder to Kante, winning not only a free kick but a yellow card to last years EPL player of the year. It’s as if the reality of life in England is becoming clearer to the clever Brazilian. He even dished it out to Willian a minute later, earning himself a place in Mike Dean’s book.

Embed from Getty Images

Masuaku as a fullback still makes me nervous. Very nervous. In the 55th minute he had the ball inside the West Ham box. He tried to work his way out but instead lost possession over the line for a Chelsea corner. Willian’s delivery hit Luiz in the box but his diving header went over the bar.

I don’t know about you, but I wish Fabianski wouldn’t go for the long ball as often as he does. I cannot recall a single good thing coming from one of them. Mini rant over.

Chelsea had two great chances to score in the 66th minute. First, Hazard was played into the box and laid the ball off for the recently inserted Morata. Diop got a crucial touch to deny the Spaniard, but seconds later Morata found himself alone in front of Fabianski but the West Ham keeper made a point blank stop to keep West Ham on level terms.

Embed from Getty Images

I, for one, did not understand the Snodgrass for Anderson move. At that point of a match, at home, wouldn’t you want someone who can keep possession and possibly create a chance on the pitch? Unless, of course, the mantra of “respect the point” was ringing in your ears. Yet in the 77th minute, it was Snodgrass who created the best chance of the match and may go down as the worst miss of the season when his cross found Yarmolenko all alone in front of Kepa. He simply had to score there. He didn’t even hit the net. It was awful beyond description.

Embed from Getty Images

In the 81st minute Willian left Zabaleta in his fumes on the left before whipping a cross into the box. Kante got on the end of it but his header went over the bar. Nowhere near the level of miss as Yarmolenko, but a miss nonetheless.

Jon Champeon was calling the game over here, and he pointed out that Chelsea had scored beyond the 80th minute in every match this season. Thanks Jon. I really needed that at that time. When Willian lined up for a corner in minute 83 I felt the anxiety of that statistic. However, Fabianski came out confidently and smothered the ball.

When it was announced that four minutes were added on, I was as surprised as I was at the zero added on for the first half. I was also terrified. Ross Barkley tested Fabianski with a long range shot that the Polish international dove low to his left to put out for a corner. Then Snodgrass gave away a free kick on the right side of the box but Yarmolenko did his defensive work with a bicycle kick clearance.

Embed from Getty Images

Final Score
West Ham 0
Chelsea 0

When Chelsea put the ball out for a goal kick and the clock showed 93:49, I felt relief. I think a draw was to some degree a fair result. Chelsea dominated possession, but we had by far the best chance of the match and Yarmolenko should feel pretty lousy tonight. Two players who should feel rather pleased are Diop and Balbuena. Not only did they earn their first clean sheet of the season, but they likely cemented themselves as the starting center halves for the forseeable future. Maybe longer given their age. In the end, a point against a far better opponent is always a decent day.

And decent might be the best we can hope for currently.


David Hautzig's Match Report

Everton 1, West Ham 3. Unexpected Pleasure.

That didn’t take long. From a summer of excitement to an autumn of discontent. About a month to my reckoning. Me? I’m back to apathy. I find it easier.

I was over for the Wolves debacle. My cat runs more in an average day than our team did. Next to me was a friend and customer, Alex. Two and a half years ago the young Alex adopted West Ham as his EPL club after I started supplying the majority of the wine at his wine bar. While at the FA Cup replay against Liverpool and saying goodbye to Upton Park, Alex texted me a photo of his new Payet kit. He was immediately given a nickname by those in attendance with me at the match, including Nigel Kahn, Dan Silver, my best mate Jon, and our overlord Iain.

“Poor Bastard”.

I had a great meal at Hawksmoor Air Street the other night with Alex, Dan, and my friend Neil Barnett. As we discussed the latest ridiculousness surrounding our club, Dan and I simply couldn’t help but laugh. At times uncontrollably. You really couldn’t make the stuff up. Alex just stared on with a glazed look in his eyes, like Mitchell McDeer in The Firm as he discovers the truth about the law firm he joined. Neil, the former presenter on Chelsea TV, joined more in the laughter than the sympathy Alex clearly needed. Today brought some unexpected smiles to go with the laughs.

Space. In Star Trek it was the final frontier. At West Ham it’s what every team we play has in abundance. In the midfield, in the box, everywhere. In the opening ten minutes Everton looked unbothered on the ball, with space and time to work. The Hammers, on the other hand, looked labored and bereft of ideas. Walcott had a shot inside the box that was blocked by Diop, and later won a corner off of Masuaku. Gana sent a good pass to Calvert Lewis that came inches from a clean breakaway. Meanwhile, any West Ham advance ended in a wayward pass to someone in blue.

And then in the 11th minute, out of nowhere, Balbuena intercepted a pass and fed Obiang. Obiang turned quickly and played a lovely give and go with Arnautovic that sent the Austrian to the races. Heading into the box with only Pickford to beat, he saw Yarmolenko streaking down the center and unselfishly…something Arnie isn’t really known for…rolled the ball into the path of Yarmolenko and the first time starter did what he was purchased to do.

Embed from Getty Images

Everton 0
West Ham 1

The visitors had another chance in the 15th minute when Noble was fouled 25 yards from goal, handing West Ham a free kick. The delivery from Anderson found Diop but the young French defender couldn’t get much power on his shot and Pickford saved it easily.

Everton should have drawn level in the 25th minute when Digne went on an unchallenged run down the left before sending a terrific cross into the box that Cenk Tosun got on the end of right in front of Fabianski. Left, goal. Right, goal. He went straight. Save. Yarmolenko was guiltily of not tracking back and fighting Digne. Deep breath.

When we signed Yarmolenko, Neil Barnett told me he thought 17 million was a bargain. The little I saw of him in pre-season certainly made me take notice. Then, in his first few appearances he looked tired. Quickly. So I wasn’t sure. But on Friday, Neil predicted a West Ham victory on his satellite radio program here. Furthermore, he said Yarmolenko would be the main force behind the prediction. In the 31st minute, Pickford looked like he played for us when he sent an awful ball out that Noble intercepted and was fouled. Atkinson played advantage, and Yarmolenko took full advantage. Working to his left across the top of the eighteen yard box, he finally made enough space for himself to unleash a curling shot that rippled the top corner.

Embed from Getty Images

Everton 0
West Ham 2

Yarmolenko almost went from hero to Ukrainian goat in the 36th minute when he lost control of a back pass from Rice, and Cenk Tosun jumped all over it. With Walcott on his right, the Turkish striker chose to go it alone and fired a low shot that Fabianski did well to stop. He couldn’t handle the rebound, but Balbuena was there to hoof it to safety. A minute later, Masuaku was very luck not to see red when he went up to play a long ball intended for Walcott. Instead of the ball, Masuaku played Walcott’s skull. With his studs. Lucky, lucky boy.

The two things that went through my mind as the first half wound down were this. First, 2-0 has always been my least favorite lead. I’ve lost count of the number of times we have watched 2-0 fizzle away. Second, giving up a goal at this juncture could easily be the beginning of a typical West Ham collapse. So when Kenny sent an inch perfect cross to Sigurdsson, and the latter beat Fabianski with a header, all those fears came to the surface.

Halftime
Everton 1
West Ham 2

The opening ten minutes of the second half were similar to many an opening ten minutes of a match. Both sides moved forward, but with trepidation. On defense, everyone looked afraid to make a mistake. In the 57th minute, Kenny made a mistake by leaving the ball unattended. When I saw a West Ham player jump on it, I leaned forward. When I saw it was Noble, I sat back. By the way. I thought Noble had a good game, so I’m not taking a swipe at him. He’s slow. What can you do?

Oh. If Bernard had either scored or set up the equalizer after muscling Yarmolenko off the ball deep in West Ham territory, the man with the brace would have had one large bar tab to pay.

Looking back a few months ago when Obiang was seemingly on his way out, I wondered why. If reports are true, that he wanted to return to Italy but did not make a fuss about it, his professionalism should be lauded. Today, his interplay with Arnautovic will also be lauded. In the 61st minute, much like the setup for the opening goal, Obiang and Arnautovic worked a quick one-two on the outside of the Everton box. This one ended with Arnautovic poking a rolled ball from Obiang behind Pickford. Yet as so many West Ham silver linings, there was a dark cloud as Arnautovic limped off holding the back of his left knee.

Embed from Getty Images

Everton 1
West Ham 3

Everton tried to answer quickly. First, Cenk Tosun got on the end of a pin ball machine period of play right in front of Fabianski but sent his shot over the bar. Then Walcott sent a low cross into the box that nobody got on the end of except Fabianski.

Everton were given a chance in the 76th minute when Walcott went to the races down the center and was pulled down by Rice. The young Irish midfielder saw yellow. Then Yarmolenko saw stars when his face was the part of the wall that stopped the free kick from Sigurdsson.

West Ham showed a desire to go for a fourth when Antonio sent a long cross field pass that Anderson ran down. A bit of skill in the area won the Brazilian a corner. Everton did well to handle it, but the intent showed by the visitors was good considering the predicament at the bottom of the table.

Everton had a golden opportunity to close the gap to one goal when Digne sent a tremendous cross into the box from the left that Niasse got on the end of after timing his run just as perfectly. His volley sounded like a rifle shot as it smashed against the crossbar and flew out. If ever there was a moment that historically had a predictable outcome it was that. Ball goes in, we hold on for dear life. But instead…..

Five minutes of added time did nothing for my confidence, despite the two goal advantage. Snodgrass gave away a free kick in the 92nd minute on the left side of the West Ham eighteen yard box, but despite Digne doing well with the delivery Niasse couldn’t get his shot on target.

There was talk on television here that Perez refused to warm up, and that’s why Antonio replaced Arnautovic. Well, if Perez hoped that move would fail and Pellegrini would crawl back to him asking for forgiveness, he will have to wait past rapture. Antonio reacted brilliantly to his demotion from starter, with outstanding hold up play and clock management.

Final Score
Everton 1
West Ham 3

Was this a glimpse of what Pellegrini is working on? Was all of his lineup shuffling waiting for this moment? Time will tell. But there wasn’t really a weak link today. Everyone did their job well. Diop and Balbuena look to be our center backs for reasonably long time. Anderson, despite a few strolls and one flop that really pissed me off, looked more in tune with the pace of the EPL. And Yarmolenko looked just plain good.

The work part of my trip last week went very well. My new partners in the UK, Red Squirrel Wines, are consummate professionals. Not to mention incredibly nice people. I was starting to wonder if they were the only good team I had in the UK. They may still be the best I’ve got, but hopefully the Hammers can inch their way back in that direction as well.

Embed from Getty Images


David Hautzig's Match Report

Arsenal 3, West Ham 1. A Little Better, I Guess.

As the telecast of the match began today here on NBC, Rebecca Lowe said that Manuel Pellegrini is not used to losing matches in the English Premier League. Well, we are. And without meaning to sound gloom and doom, the new gaffer had better get used to the notion of losing from time to time. Or more. While I thought we would figure out a way to beat Bournemouth last week, as I tried to catch pieces of it on my phone at the student center of my daughters college, I wasn’t shocked. We have only beaten the Cherries at home once since they were promoted, and that was on a late goal created by….wait for it….Gokhan Tore. Yeah.

Today was more about performance to me. How the truckload of new players continue to bed themselves in. Especially with yet another altered starting eleven. If we somehow managed a result, great. If we didn’t, we simply will have to hunker down as a collective team and keep the faith in the manager and the squad.

In the 6th minute, West Ham showed what they plan to do when Masuaku launched a counter down the left. Arsenal were on their heels, and Antonio pushed the ball into the box. He rolled a pass to Snodgrass at the top of the area, and that’s when it all broke down and Arsenal cleared. Not a judgment on the Scot. Just an observation.

The Gunners almost took the lead in the eleventh minute in one of those ping pong moments that so often happen to West Ham. Diop cleared the ball, but it bounced off a red shirt and into the Hammers eighteen yard box. Balbuena slid into the ball to clear, but again it found red in Mkhitaryan. He sent a hard shot that Fabianski did very well to stop. The rebound went to Ramsey, but his header into the back of the net was ruled offside.

The Hammers had a decent spell on the ball after that. Arnautovic had a look at goal but sent his shot into the side netting. Moments later West Ham won a free kick 25 yards from goal when Mustafi fouled Antonio. Snodgrass curled the ball into the box, but the Gunners back-line held and cleared. A few minutes later Wilshire led a counter and had options on both sides. He chose neither and was displaced of the ball as punishment for his indecisiveness. Then, Snodgrass tried another curler that floated over the Arsenal defense and right at Arnautovic. But even Arnautovic looked shocked that the ball reached him and he couldn’t position himself to get a shot off and the ball bounced harmlessly into the arms of Cech. While nothing came of any of these half chances, the Hammers looked a little better than they had the first two games.

West Ham’s good play finally paid a dividend in the 26th minute when Anderson led a break from inside the West Ham half. As he approached the top of the eighteen yard box he spotted Arnautovic at the top of the area. They exchanged little touch passes with a bit of movement, and all of that resulted in Arnautovic having a clean shot on goal. And he buried it.

Arsenal 0
West Ham 1

Embed from Getty Images

The lead didn’t last long, however. Bellerin got behind the West Ham defense and was able to send a short cross into the box. Fabianski got a hand to the shot, but the rebound went to a completely unmarked Monreal and he calmly slotted it into the back of the net.

Arsenal 1
West Ham 1

Embed from Getty Images

I appreciate Antonio. I really do. But when he broke on a counter with Arnautovic ahead of him he reaaaaalllly should have passed. Instead he sent a low, fairly harmless shot that Cech had no problem gathering up. Moments later Anderson had a chance inside the box but his chip shot attempt was cleared.

Arsenal came about three inches from taking the lead in the 40th minute when Aubameyang unleashed a shot from near the top of the West Ham eighteen yard box that just missed the top of the net. A minute later he was fouled by Diop, who saw yellow, and Arsenal had a set piece from 20 yards out. I shielded my eyes. Thankfully the wall did its job.

The visitors had a great chance in first half injury time to reclaim the lead. Masuaku sent a long ball to Arnautovic that stayed onside. But West Ham couldn’t get a shot off. Seconds later Antonio won the ball near the top of the area and rolled a pass seemingly to Arnautovic. But the Austrian let the ball go past him and into the path of Snodgrass. With only Cech to beat, the often maligned midfielder shot right into the keepers chest.

Halftime
Arsenal 1
West Ham 1

West Ham started the second half brightly with Fredericks moving up and sending a cross into the Arsenal box. Snodgrass was able to put a header on goal but it had nothing on it. Moments later Arsenal had a header from Mustafi and that one had enough on it to force Fabianski Into a very good save.

In the 50th minute Bellerin again fouled Antonio, giving the Hammers a free kick. The ball was sent over the Arsenal defense and found Arnautovic on the right, but he tried to one time the ball and sent it sailing high over the bar. Patience would have been a virtue at that moment. He had a lot more time than he realized. Minutes later Arsenal showed very good ball movement when Xhaka, Aubameyang and Lacazette combined with the latter firing a shot directly at Fabianski.

The end to end action kept going, this time with Anderson down the left. He cut towards the box and sent the ball to Arnautovic in the box. The finish was poor, otherwise West Ham would have retaken the lead. To add injury to insult, Arnautovic went down clutching his knee and was replaced by Chicharito moments later. Oddly, the armband was handed to Sanchez. I cannot wait to hear that someone made millions on that particular bet at William Hill.

Kidding.

Arsenal will likely feel they should have taken the lead in the 57th minute when Lacazette turned Diop around in the box and fired a low shot that Fabianski saved low to his right. The rebound floated to Monreal but he misfired and the ball was cleared.

West Ham won their first corner of the second half in the 68th minute after Masuaku and Perez combined with passing and a run behind the Arsenal defense. Arsenal handled the set piece, but Anderson tested Cech seconds later after a cutting run.

Overall, I think Diop had a decent debut. Maybe I’m being too forgiving due to youth. But in the 70th minute everything that could have gone wrong for the young man did go wrong. His decision to not let the ball roll out for a corner and instead send a high, useless clearing attempt that was easily fed back into the box was awe inspiringly naive. Lacazette sent the ball across the face of goal, and it bounced off Diop and behind Fabianski. You couldn’t make it up.

Arsenal 2
West Ham 1

Embed from Getty Images

The Gunners had all of the action from that moment on, and in the 83rd minute they won a corner. Yarmolenko cleared the delivery, but Ramsey got on the end of it and sent a low shot that was destined for the corner of the net if not for a late dive from Fabianski.

A minute later, Anderson launched a fine counter attack with Anderson at the front. He rolled a good pass to Perez on the left. With Hernandez running down the middle and Yarmolenko on the right, Perez sent the ball to neither of them nor at the net.

Welcome home, Lucas.

West Ham had one final chance to salvage something, and If Yarmolenko had moved for the cross from Anderson it could have hit his eyelids and gone in. But he didn’t and the Anderson pass rolled to nobody and nowhere.

Oh. Then Welbeck scored. Only Balbuena continued to play his given roll of defender. Otherwise everyone else in blue turned spectator.

Embed from Getty Images

Final Score
Arsenal 3
West Ham 1

Losing three games to start the season, again, stinks. But as negative as I usually am, I think there were signs today of what we will be able to eventually do. The movement was better, Anderson had better runs and looked a bit more in tune with the pace of the EPL, and despite the mistake I would stick with Diop and Balbuena. Heck, even Sanchez was ok. Nor should we forget that the winner was a fluke set up by a defensive error by a 21 year old. And with Liverpool and Arsenal away, it was always a possibility if we stumbled at home to Bournemouth. And we always have a tough time at home to Bournemouth.

I’ll be over next week for Wolves, and I think we will win. Possibly with ease.

Fingers crossed.

Click here to view the leaderboard

Copyright © 2018 Iain Dale Limited. Terms and conditions. Cookies.
Website by Russell Brown.