David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 1, Leicester City 2. The Free Fall Continues.

Dear Manuel,

I wish I could get inside your head and see what on earth is going wrong. Maybe you thought your style and tactics were still applicable to the English game? Or perhaps you were given assurances that you would be allowed to furnish the whole house, but at the last moment a few rooms were locked up and your personal moral compass wouldn’t let you say anything? To be honest, if I had your bank account and decency I would walk away. Life is too short. Go back to Chile, open up a nice bottle of Vina Echeverria Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon (2014 if you can get it), and call it a day. When 17th place is the new goal, that seems like the right call.

Leicester City started today with nine changes from their Boxing Day lineup, so there were some West Ham supporters on social media who thought that might just open the door for us. Not me. Had Albrighton connected properly with his strike inside the box in minute four, the home side would have been down a goal. Moments later Justin attacked down he right and sent a cross into the box that was wrongly flagged for offside. Then Iheanacho blew what might have been a one to one battle with Fabianski with a heavy touch. Meanwhile, West Ham looked like they were playing against imaginary pylons.

The beginning of todays version of the end looked to come in the tenth minute when Justin sent a ball over the top to Iheanacho. Fabianski came out to meet the Leicester City striker who was once rejected by Slaven Bilic and clattered into him. David Coote pointed to the spot, which was no surprise. When he showed Fabianski a yellow instead of a red, small favors were thanked for around the London Stadium. Gray gave the home crowd another favor with a truly tepid penalty that didn’t look that hard for our returning hero to stop.

There have been many who have called for Masuaku to be recalled into the starting lineup. Heck, he wasn’t even on the bench for weeks. There have been an equal number wondering why on earth he was given an extension to his contract. In the 22nd minute, he let loose a shot that at least counted as an attempt on target. However, he also gave away the ball a number of times before and after that shot. So which side of the argument is correct? Yes.

Both sides played possession football without any real end product, but Leicester were a bit more effective. After winning a corner in the 32nd minute, they kept the ball in and around the West Ham eighteen yard box. The “what if” of that sequence was pretty clear. If Leicester City had their best on the pitch I doubt the match would have remained scoreless.

Albrighton made a mistake in the 35th minute when he lost the ball to Anderson, who then broke on the attack. The Brazilian showed good awareness by finding Rice slightly behind the play and lobbed a cross his way. Rice tried to catch the pass with a one time volley but his shot bounced into the grass and meekly towards Schmeichel.

The second version of the likely end came in the 40th minute when Masuaku made the awful decision of trying a weak header instead of letting the ball fly out for a goal kick. Justin retrieved it and sent a ball towards the West Ham goal. It looked to be heading out, but Perez didn’t give up on it and headed it back in front of goal where Iheanacho met it with his forehead and put it behind Fabianski.

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West Ham 0
Leicester City 1

West Ham had a half chance…maybe just a quarter to be fair…when Rice sent a cross into the box for Haller. The Frenchman tried to redirect the ball with his head but it went wide. But seconds later, against the run of play for sure, Anderson went on a run down the right. He played a give and go with Fredericks and then rolled a pass to Fornals in the box. The young Spaniard continued his overall improvement of late with the best of all outcomes. His first goal in Claret & Blue.

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Halftime
West Ham 1
Leicester City 1

Masuaku is not a defender. We all know that. My guess is he knows that and wonders why on earth he is so often played at fullback. His rugby tackle on Perez in the 49th minute right outside the box gave Leicester City a free kick from a very dangerous area. Fuchs took the set piece and went low, under the wall. But Fabianski was there to gather it up.

The substitutions made by Pellegrini this season have often been met with raised eyebrows. Antonio coming on for Haller in the 55th minute had to be added to that list. Just as we were trying to figure that one out, Leicester City broke on a counter. Diop tried not once but twice to break up the attack with a foul instead of getting back into position, and was terribly ineffective both times. That allowed Perez to get on the ball and roll a pass to Gray on the left. The man who missed the early penalty redeemed himself with both a well timed run and a well placed shot.

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West Ham 1
Leicester City 2

Leicester City had an excellent chance to put West Ham out of its misery in the 68th minute. After a corner from Maddison came right back at him due to a poor clearance attempt from Anderson, he tried another cross. This one spent more time in the box and eventually landed at the feet of Morgan. The giant centerback did well to bring a high ball down, turn, and fire a good shot that Fabianski went down to his right to save.

By the 80th minute, the crowd at the London Stadium was disturbingly silent. To hear the echos of a single whistle through a television was both damning and depressing. Yet with such poor play, terrible passes, and bad runs it was hard not to feel the same thing in my basement in New York. My mind was vacillating between that awful year under Zola when we barely escaped the drop and that truly pathetic year under Grant. Even the television commentators said they could not see what West Ham were trying to do. In all honesty, the much maligned Ajeti was our hardest worker in the final ten minutes.

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Final Score
West Ham 1
Leicester City 2

In 1964, The United States Supreme Court heard a case involving free speech and whether or not something was obscene. Justice Potter Stewart said the following;

“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

Once again, everything is falling apart at West Ham United. We are free-falling towards the Championship, our captain is fighting with our best central defender DURING A MATCH, the players look like they have surrendered to their fate, and yet another managerial change is imminent. Players change, managers and back room staff change, and in our case even our stadium changed. Only one thing has been a constant this past decade, and even though it’s not always easy to pinpoint the how, I am certain whose fault it is. This season has been particularly difficult on that end, because we bought some good players over the summer and have a manager with an impressive CV. Yet I know in the end it’s their fault.

I know it when I see it.


David Hautzig's Match Report

Crystal Palace 2, West Ham 1. Was Anyone REALLY Surprised?

Last year I was in London with my family on Boxing Day. We had a lovely lunch at The White Horse in Parsons Green, and I watched us win the next evening on my IPad sitting at the kitchen table of our Airbnb. Anderson was brilliant, and I was quite optimistic about where the club was heading. This year I’m home, taking orders from customers, watching yet another Boxing Day fixture smack in the middle of a possible relegation battle. I am not in the least bit surprised by this, given that we are owned and operated by people with more failures on their CV than any of us could endure while keeping our jobs. And when it became clear that Roberto was back as goalkeeper, believe it or not I wasn’t that upset. I fully expected to lose today, so the Spaniard’s inclusion only meant a few more negatives in our goal differential. TODAY

When things are going badly, as they are yet again, I always start a match with the strange deal I make with the football gods. I’ll take a nil-nil draw, I say to them. That feeling was exasperated when I saw Roberto punch the early corner by Palace right to an Eagle waiting at the top of the eighteen yard box when literally every other keeper I have ever watched in Claret & Blue would have caught it.

Right back is an area where we are weak, and it shows the woeful transfer policy of our board. We went for a right back in Fredericks that joined from a relegated side with no transfer fee, to replace an aging right back we also signed with no transfer fee. Right backs aren’t that sexy to DS. When Zaha broke down the left with Zabaleta racing back as best he could, it was noteworthy and even impressive that Pablo got back, and used his experience to block Zaha off the ball and earn a goal kick.

From an attacking perspective, which was pretty much non existent, all we could muster in the opening twenty-five minutes was a single corner. Even with two up top, West Ham were lobbing hopeful balls over the Palace midfield. When Palace inevitably brought the ball back down to our end, it was clear they knew the weakness easiest to expose was the last line of defense. Roberto did himself no favors by continually punching instead of catching. I’d love to know why nobody on the coaching staff works on that with him.

Palace should have opened the scoring in the 31st minute when Zaha started an attack on the left. After beating Zabaleta, Noble, and Balbuena he sent a low ball across the box. Nobody was there to meet it, but Meyer got to it and rolled the ball back in front of goal for Ayew. Balbuena was challenging the man who scored the winner back in November at the London Stadium, and that bit of pressure might have meant the difference between a goal and the ball rolling just wide. Moments later, West Ham had their first attempt of the match when Antonio came in from the left and let a hard shot fly, but it flew right into the arms of Guaita.

Yes. I saw the almost catastrophic pass attempt by Roberto in the 41st minute. Ogbonna saved him. Don’t need to say much more.

Halftime
Crystal Palace 0
West Ham 0

As the second began, it was actually interesting to see how ineffective we were. Without meaning to raise the ire of some of you, it didn’t look that much different to some of our matches under He Who Shall Not Be Named. There was no cohesion to anything we did. And such sloppiness inevitably leads to mistakes, as it did in minute 54 when Cresswell completely botched a back pass and Ayew jumped all over it. Unbelievably, it was Roberto to the rescue with a decent save. Moments later Milivojevic sent a rocket of a shot over the bar.

In between those two moments, something extraordinary happened. I’m sure we will hear more about it later. Noble and Cresswell looked to be in a heated argument, with Cresswell wrapping his arms around the captain. Antonio was in the mix as well.

When the television cameras came back to the action from the replay of that incident, Antonio had the ball near the top of the Palace eighteen yard box. He rolled a wonderfully weighted pass into the path of Snodgrass, who then curled a left footed effort past Guaita.

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Crystal Palace 0
West Ham 1

The home side came very close to an immediate leveler when Van Aanholt took a hard, low shot that rolled across the face of goal. Moments later, he pulled his hamstring chasing down a pass from Zaha and had to come off, making the Palace injury list look like a West Ham one.

Palace won their fifth corner in the 66th minute when Zaha sent a beauty of a floating ball to the far post for Meyer, who volleyed it off Cresswell to win the set piece. The Hammers defended the initial delivery, only for Palace to keep coming back. With our problems on set pieces, it was easy to understand why they kept sending the ball into the box. The strategy finally worked when an Ayew headed a ball into the path of Kouyate, and the former Hammer kept up a tradition by scoring his first goal for his new club against us.

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Crystal Palace 1
West Ham 1

The Hammers had a decent chance to re-take the lead in the 76th minute when Snodgrass crossed to Lanzini in the box, who laid the ball off for Antonio fifteen yards out but his shot went high and wide. Palace had a far better chance to take the lead moments later when Zabaleta played Wickham onside, and the former West Ham target was off to the races all alone, bearing down on Roberto. The deservedly maligned Spaniard made his best save for West Ham by a country mile, coming out to meet the challenge head on. His save went high in the air, cleared out by Rice.

West Ham almost got what might have been the winner in the 87th minute. After a very impressive spell on the ball, Snodgrass was teed up right in front of goal to get his second of the game. But Riedewald made a sliding tackled to block the shot that was so good that even Snoddy himself acknowledged the play with a little clap.

But the inevitable happened in the 90th minute. And just as he did at the London Stadium, Ayew scored a late winner. After dancing around the rather static West Ham defense, his quick feet and drag back made it through the crowd. A little chip over the defenseless Roberto, and that was that.

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Final Score
Crystal Palace 2
West Ham 1

So we are now one point above the drop zone. There is zero reason to think this latest version of Porn Barons Fight The Drop won’t last until April or later. I suspect we have enough to stay up, but it’s by no means certain. And today cannot be laid at Roberto’s feet. I’m not blaming Pellegrini either. We lost to a team that is clearly better than us. We have dropped 15 points from a winning position this season, the most of any team in the league. We are clearly nowhere close to being the team or club many thought we would become. We are West Ham. And we all know what that truly means.

There you have it.


David Hautzig's Match Report

Southampton 0, West Ham 1. Will Remain Also Win?

Let me see if I can keep all of this straight. Anderson injured in training. No, wait. He’s got a stomach bug. Haller back in, playing two up front with Antonio. Or is he wide right? Pellegrini has today to save his job. Until Boxing Day, when he’d be in the line of fire again. Eddie Howe, the assistant coach whose name I cannot recall, Tony f-ing Pulis, the return of Moyes. Am I getting all of that right? I had more than a little wine yesterday and my head still hurts a bit, so all of this thinking isn’t helping. Maybe that’s the key? Don’t think about any of this. We are who we are, we may go down, we may stay up. Whatever. At least I will feel comfortable wearing a West Ham sweatshirt this week.

To be fair, West Ham started a little brighter than the Saints. A quality free kick by Snodgrass was headed into the back of the net by Rice, but he was flagged for offside. Then the Hammers won three corners in quick succession, none of which caused any threat to the home side. But as long as the ball was on that side of the pitch Southampton could not score. There. I said something positive. Proud of me?

In a strange way, Southampton’s first real look at goal was a quintessential example of everything wrong with West Ham. Hojbjerg had the ball on the left in the 13th minute, surrounded by Hammers. Yet he still lofted a cross to Long in the box. Long was in between Ogbonna and Cresswell, yet he still managed to get to the ball and put a looping header on goal. Martin handled it, kind of, and West Ham didn’t allow a very West Ham goal.

Cresswell won a free kick in the 23rd minute on the outside of the Southampton eighteen yard box when Djenepo brought him down. Instead of putting the ball into the box, a cheeky back pass to Noble at the top of the area got the nod. Basically West Ham tried to make Beef Bourguignon when a burger would have sufficed. Moments later, West Ham had what looked like a legitimate shout for a penalty when Bertrand appeared to take Antonio down in the box. Antonio was incensed, but VAR disagreed and the game continued.

West Ham continued to dominate, winning yet another corner in the 29th minute. Two up front seemed to be causing Southampton problems, but with no goals, no shots on target, and no real quality to show for it the West Ham Worry was in full force.

The worry receded a bit in the 37th minute when Antonio beat Bertrand on the right side of the eighteen yard box. He passed back to Snodgrass, who crossed to the far post to Fornals. The young Spaniard, who has looked far better in recent weeks, headed the ball back to Haller 10 yards in front of McCarthy. The Frenchman sent a low bouncing shot off the post and into the net.

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Halftime
Southampton 0
West Ham 1

The second half opened with what should have been Fornals first goal but McCarthy made a superb save on hard strike from inside the box. Maybe the kid will turn out to be an OK signing after all? Moments later, VAR disallowed what would have been Antonio’s second goal of the season for a handball in the buildup. But the link up play between Haller and Antonio, with Fornals in support, should be a glimpse of what the second half of the season will hold. At least in terms of setup and formation.

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West Ham won…actually, Antonio won a corner in the 59th minute when he outran Cedric to chase down a pass from Fornals. His brute strength and speed won a throw a minute later. West Ham could not capitalize on either thoroughbred run by our game-changer.

As the second half ticked away, I kept writing the start of something only to stop because in reality nothing happened. West Ham would start a counter, and wouldn’t get a shot off. Then the hosts would come down and West Ham would clear. But in the 70th minute Southampton had a moment that came inches from leveling the match. Djenepo set up Ings in the box, a man with 9 league goals this season for a team in the bottom three. His strike was excellent, but it came off the crossbar and bounced a yard off the line. No VAR needed.

West Ham came very close to a second goal when a good cross from Antonio found the head of Haller in front of goal. He put the ball low and towards the far post, but McCarthy got his hand out to make the stop. Minutes later Antonio started another attack, but Yarmolenko couldn’t finish the job after being set up by Fornals.

Sanchez for Haller? That substitution made me very, very twitchy. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Antonio and Yarmolenko worked the ball on the right side in the 82nd minute and won a corner for their efforts. They moved the ball around the Southampton half after the set piece, taking a few seconds off the clock. But Danny Ings took advantage of some sloppy interplay between Sanchez and Noble and went on a run that would have been a candidate for goal of the year had it ended in the back of the net. Instead Balbuena stepped in and cleared. The truth was that the Sanchez for Haller move looked bad and seemed to be the fulcrum of every positive move from the home side.

Southampton won a free kick right outside the box in the 89th minute when Balbuena stuck his foot in front of Djenepo. The Mali international went down, and West Ham looked vulnerable. Thankfully for us the set piece flew directly into the arms of Martin. In the 92nd minute, with West Ham frantically holding on, the home side won a corner as their supporters were heading to the exits. And then, in what was almost a surreal moment, Martin went down injured after a free kick. On the bright side, West Ham had used all three of their substitutions so Roberto couldn’t come on.

Final Score
Southampton 0
West Ham 1

The main presenter here for NBC is Arlo White. Midway through the second half, he made a few points that we all know but I wondered what a neutral would think. First, in the ten years Sullivan and Gold have owned West Ham we have been involved in five relegation battles. Second, the most they have ever spent on a non-attacking midfielder was 7 million pounds on Kouyate. And finally, the most they ever spent on a fullback was 6 million pounds on Masuaku. And that assumes you are willing to classify Masuaku as a fullback.

I’m not being a moaner here, despite what you may think. We won. I’m thrilled we did. I hope playing two up front will finally make sense to Pellegrini and he will stick to it. He said something to that effect in his post match interview. Even if he does, however, I cannot see us having anything other than a rough year that will once again see us finish in the bottom half, perilously close to the drop zone. We played a rather bad team today, and it still wasn’t easy. Then again, when is it easy for us? As for the manager, I don’t know what to think. To say he keeps his job because of one win is ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as saying a manager should lose his job because of a single result.

Sam Wallace had a fantastic article in The Telegraph yesterday where he made the very cogent and logical case against our owners. “West Ham find themselves in the classic managerial death-spiral of disenchanted underperforming players who will be expensive to remove. It needs a fresh start, new direction and a vision for the club but why would you trust the same people to deliver it?”

I don’t.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

Chelsea 0, West Ham 1. A Win Built By Hard Work.

The big question today was whether it would be four on the spin. No, not four losses. That was foregone conclusion as far as I was concerned. It was whether we would go down by three goals again before the final whistle and thus allow me to get on with my life. I made that promise not only to myself, but to my family. Even the cat knew if things went as badly as expected playtime and treats would be on offer. Martin in between the pipes did nothing other than take Roberto out of the circular firing squad that is West Ham. Masuaku on the bench? OK. Fine. Haller dropped? Well, nobody should be undroppable. Antonio starting on cold day, coming off a hamstring injury, with a history of hamstring injuries and likely as much scar tissue in his leg as muscle. Our last win at Stamford Bridge was with DiCanio and Defoe up front. What could possibly go wrong? Apparently nothing.

Shameless plug time!!! I will try to follow the great Nigel Kahn as a guest on the American West Ham YouTube Channel tomorrow at 7pm GMT, 2pm EST. We are getting our first full throttle snow storm of the year, so I’ll bundle up in my house and share the joy. http://YouTube.com/c/americanhammerstv

So the way I set myself up is with my IPad on my lap for typing, with my IPhone next to me launched to the FotMob app for help with lineup stuff. Because I’m using a stream, I’m usually a minute or so behind the actual action. The app provides goal alerts, so I’m always torn between getting the information ASAP and watching the match as “live” as I can. In the end, I left the app as is and waited for the horror to unfold. And that horror came close in the second minute when Emerson broke down the left and sent the ball into the box for Pedro, but his shot was deflected before we could start yelling at Martin.

West Ham went on the attack in the 6th minute, and to be fair it was as effective as anything we have seen in over a month. Antonio broke into the box and got on the end of a good cross from Cresswell, but he couldn’t square up to the pass and his side foot attempt under pressure went over the bar. A minute later my national pride was challenged…OK, that’s nonsense…when Pulisic sent a low shot right at Martin. The former Millwall man gathered it up on the second attempt. Pulisic was at it again moments later when he got on the end of a cross from James, but his looping header went over the bar.

Ten minutes in, no goals conceded! COYI!

I saw a chart the other day, provided by my mate John Bucci of Moore Than Just A Podcast, on the WhatsApp group I’m part of showing the total expenditure on defenders during the current regime. 72.10 million pounds. That’s about 7 million per season, but if you take out Diop that average goes waaaaay down. So when crosses go in and nobody looks even remotely aware of what they are supposed to do, keep that in mind. Like when Chelsea won a corner after a crazy deflection off Cresswell. The delivery was found by Zouma right in front of Martin, almost totally unmarked. Lucky for the visitors Zouma’s header went wide.

Despite all of the dominance from Chelsea, it was West Ham who came the closest to opening the scoring in the 24th minute. Anderson fed the ball to Snodgrass on the right, who sent a very fine cross into the box. Antonio timed his run well, and met the ball with power. Kepa was equal to the task and made a great save with his left hand.

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Chelsea kept chipping away at the West Ham defense, winning a few corners in quick succession. But while not looking particularly strong, they looked at least stable. Thank heavens for small favors. After recent calamities, just seeing the basics of functional football was somewhat comforting. With one exception. Anderson. His lackadaisical nature has started to wear very thin. Yes, he has skill and can do wonderful things. But he has looked more like an expensive mistake than a skillful player.

Martin made his first saves of the match in the 43rd minute when Kovacic sent a low shot from just outside the eighteen yard box. Giroud looked offside, so when he attacked the rebound I expected a flag. Maybe VAR would have done the job. Regardless, Martin got his hand on the second attempt from the French Giant and dove on the ball to end the Chelsea threat.

I really, really want to like Fornals. When we signed him I was excited. I know performing well in an Under 23 competition means you played well against other kids. The Premier League is made up mostly of men. But from my point of view, once he starts trusting his instinct instead thinking he has to follow all instructions he might come good. Like in added time when Anderson fed him the ball and galloped down the right. Instead of running, or sending the ball into the run of his teammate, he stopped. He turned around, and then passed the ball back to his defense. Argh!!!!

The final moments of the first half almost ended the decent work done by West Ham all half. James sent a cross into the box. Ogbonna made a slight deflection that likely changed the flight of the ball enough for Giroud to mistime his run. The ball bounced to the far post where Pulisic just missed it.

Halftime
Chelsea 0
West Ham 0

In the opening moments of the second half, when my phone dinged indicating a goal I obviously assumed the worst. So when I saw West Ham break, I thought maybe…just maybe…we were on top. Cresswell overlapped with Fornals and received the ball in the Chelsea eighteen yard box. He cut to his right and sent a low, curling shot past Kepa.

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Chelsea 0
West Ham 1

Chelsea looked to recover from the shock of falling behind and won a corner after a very fine tackle by Fredericks in the 57th minute. But West Ham worked well collectively and the ball bounced meekly out for a goal kick right after the delivery. Moments later it was West Ham that won a corner when Rice went on a rare run forward down the left. And it would have been a second goal for The Hammers had Kepa not made a great save off of Balbuena’s header. Seconds later West Ham had another great chance for a second when Antonio got on the ball right in front of Kepa but couldn’t find his shooting boots and Kepa smothered the ball.

West Ham won a corner in the 67th minute, just as I was arguing with Nigel and Sean about my negativity. I said I still didn’t see us getting anything out of it, so when the ball went into the back of the net I thought my argument was lost. But despite the fine work by Snodgrass getting the cross into Antonio, VAR correctly ruled the ball went off his arm before going off the post and into the back of the net. Despite having far more clear chances through 70 minutes than Chelsea, my negativity returned in full force.

In the 75th minute, the television showed a gassed Antonio. I hoped Pellegrini would not risk him, and thankfully he read the tea leaves properly and inserted Haller for the spent Englishman. Yarmolenko also entered the fray in exchange for Anderson. Said a lot about the Brazilian that I hadn’t noticed he was gone and had to look it up.

Chelsea had an opportunity in the 80th minute when second half substitute Willian broke down the right and sent a low cross into the box. But in another instance of collective defense, West Ham bodies threw themselves where they needed to be and the ball was jettisoned away from danger. For the moment.

West Ham got very sloppy late in the second half, giving the ball away when a minute of possession would have been worth its weight in gold. Chelsea won a corner, but the delivery was completely over hit. The Hammers came back down and tried the possession thing again, only to have Yarmolenko give the ball away, get a yellow card, and get hurt. Not a good hat trick.

Chelsea had a tremendous chance to even the match in the 89th minute when Kante fed Pulisic on the right with a little touch pass. But with space and time, the American Wunderkind shot wide. Seconds later Fredericks gave up a free kick right outside the eighteen yard box. West Ham handled the initial free kick, but the ball floated back into the box. Martin came to catch it, and Hudson-Odoi came to head it. The two met with a thud, the ball went out, and Martin went down. Visions, or should I say nightmares of Roberto danced in my cerebral cortex.

West Ham won a goal kick in the final seconds after Chelsea was flagged for offside. When Snodgrass won a throw deep in the Chelsea half, I thought that might be enough. And despite Chelsea winning the ball back, Moss blew the final whistle.

Final Score
Chelsea 0
West Ham 1

Well now. Talk about putting a dent in my writing plans. I had all sorts of narratives in my head, mostly about the board. Those won’t change in the short or long term. But today we deserved the three points. It was Kepa that kept the score at 0-1. Martin had very little to do, which spoke volumes of the work done by Ogbonna and Balbuena in the middle. But the vision I will remember most was that of Martin in tears at the final whistle. This was his moment to feel like a true Premier League goalkeeper. He may never have another day like it, and that might be OK for him. But unless he loses a leg to a shark attack or something, he stays in between the pipes until Fabianski is back.

We can enjoy life at least until Wednesday.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 2, Spurs 3. Another Loss. Just About Says It All.

I gave a lot of thought, and I mean a lot of thought, to skipping today. I am utterly exhausted, and the last thing I wanted to do was get up not much later than I do on weekdays to watch what I expected to be yet another lackluster carnage. With the whole Mourinho circus stirred up to even greater heights by our media departments awe inspiringly stupid video the other day, who needed this? But then I remembered. I’m 54. I forgot how to sleep in years ago. So when my eyes popped open a little before 6am, there was little else to do but make coffee, feed the cat, and embrace the horror. And horror it was.

The third minute was the first warning we all needed when Kane got behind the West Ham defense via a pass from Alli. He fired a high shot past a rather lifeless Roberto. West Ham didn’t need VAR on this occasion because the flag went up, but the space Alli had was worrisome. Minutes later Fredericks sent a cross into the box that Haller didn’t quite connect with and Gazzaniga handled it with ease.

There was a moment in the eleventh minute that could have dire consequences for West Ham later in the match. Diop was pulled down by Kane, and Oliver decided Diop’s arm was the perpetrator of the crime. Diop saw yellow when he shouldn’t have. On the ensuing free kick, Sanchez floated a ball into the box. Roberto wasn’t that decisive in going for the ball, but Moura’s header went wide.

As I watched West Ham when they had the ball, it was striking how little movement there was. It looked more like a foosball game where the figures are on sticks, unable to move beyond side to side. That isn’t necessarily about pace. It’s about vision and guile. Something we appear to be lacking, and it certainly makes me question if we have the personnel to play the attacking, high line style the manager wants.

West Ham’s defending of set pieces has always been suspect. Lately, with Roberto between the pipes, it has been abysmal. So when Spurs won a few corners in the 31st minute, it was nervy times for the home side. One was blocked by Fredericks, another cleared by Diop. Moments later Alli sent in Son and only a late tackle by Rice for another tackle prevented an almost certain goal.

Social Media by and large has been a scourge on the earth. But the 33rd minute applause for Lilly Harris showed that every now and then it can be a tool for good.

The inevitable finally happened in the 35th minute. With every Spurs player given loads of space and time, they put together a series of passes that rightfully ended in a goal. West Ham were miles off the pace and looked completely lost. Alli passed to Son, he did a little step over for effect, and blasted it by Roberto.

West Ham 0
Tottenham 1

A few minutes after the goal, West Ham were fortunate not to be down to ten men when Fredericks barreled into Son. He got a piece of the ball, but got even more of Son’s leg. I expected VAR to change the yellow card to red, but Fredericks was let off the hook.

A Few minutes later, Spurs doubles their lead in a way that only seems to happen to West Ham. Alli got the ball near the sideline but fell over it. Somehow, from the seat of his pants, he passed to Son. Every West Ham player seemed to be asleep at the wheel, while every Spurs player kept driving. Son sent a low cross to Moura in the box, and the Champions League hero easily beat Cresswell to poke the ball into the net.

Halftime
West Ham 0
Spurs 2

The second half saw the introduction of Antonio, and he won a free kick. In our current state, that’s a win. But the wee bit of enthusiasm was squashed seconds later when Spurs countered. By the time I started writing about the cross that went wide, the next wave had come and Kane had put Spurs up by three. Diop didn’t move. Fredericks moved less. It was pathetic. Spurs certainly had their first win on the road in 307 days.

West Ham 0
Spurs 3

As many of you know, I made 0-3, or 3-0 depending on location, my limit for punishment. So as I jotted down my premature conclusions, I kept the TV on. But once this “work” was over, my actual day at home would begin. I would post the report sans visuals, because that’s the righteous thing to do.

Like with Newcastle, we scored two goals after I gave up. Maybe me not watching is the key? It worked during The Great Escape. Antonio scored while I was putting cream cheese on my son’s bagel. And then Rice scored while I was getting dressed, but VAR ruled it offside. A last second goal by Ogbonna begs the question we ask all the damned time. Why do we start every game so poorly? And if anyone says VAR robbed us of a point, spare me.

Final Score
West Ham 2
Spurs 3

I have heard Nigel Kahn say, both on the podcast and in person, that relegation doesn’t really bother him that much. It’s part of being a West Ham fan, and in the end it’s simply a different set of teams to play in a different league. For some reason, that has finally started to sink in without the panic that used to accompany it. The truth is that for whatever reason West Ham is notorious for taking quality players, and instead of the club rising to their level we drag them down to ours. So if I am to continue supporting this club, which I obviously will, that truth is inescapable. The reality that has come over me is that the decisions made by our board are not the only problem. The methods by which they make decisions and thus run their football business are flawed. They have never won anything, and have failed more times than you or I would be allowed to in our jobs before being shown the door.

That is our lot in life, football wise, and we have to make the best of it.


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