David Hautzig's Match Report
Carbamazepine. Depakote. Lithium.
These are all known medications for the treatment of bi-polar disorder. I have no knowledge of the efficacy of any of them, and thankfully supporting West Ham is the only psychological issue one could argue that I have. But when asking oneself how the same team that beat Arsenal and outplayed Liverpool can ship four goals to AFC Wimbledon, maybe that’s the route the club medical staff should look at? Can an entire football club, from the corporate level down to the kit-man, have such a condition? By the look of the two halves today, it might be something the club should explore.
The confidence West Ham played with against Liverpool seemed evident in the opening few minutes. Anderson and Cresswell showed a good understanding of each other’s movements to overlap and win a corner, and then Anderson moved to the right and did the same with Antonio to win another corner. There was no end product to those missives, but they looked positive.
Palace asked a few questions as well, with Zaha beating Fredericks on the left to win a corner, and Schlupp winning his own corner from a low shot that was deflected wide. The tempo was fast and entertaining.
In the 14th minute, the Hammers had the first real opportunity of the match when Antonio got the ball at the top of the Crystal Palace eighteen yard box. Most of us likely expected one of those wild Antonio shots. Instead he rolled a lovely ball for Fredericks to run onto, but Guaita did well to stop it. Minutes later Anderson sent a ball over the top of the Palace defense that Snodgrass ran onto inside the box, but he didn’t get off the cleanest of shots with his left foot and again Guaita was there to keep the score even.
A few minutes later it was Palace who had a chance to open the scoring when McArthur got in behind the West Ham defense for an open shot but Fabianski made a superb stop. Seconds later Anderson was on the run again for West Ham and sent a low cross into the box for Hernandez. The pass was a few inches off, forcing Chicharito to chase it down in the box. That gave Sakho the time needed to get across and block the shot out for a West Ham corner.
West Ham took the lead in the 28th minute, and it started with a simple free kick from 40 yards out after a foul on Hernandez. The ball came to Rice just outside the eighteen yard box, and he showed the kind of touch you’d expect from…say…Anderson, with a little flick into the box. Antonio showed a lot of courage going after it when nobody else did, and he was clattered into by Guaita. Pawson pointed to the spot, and Noble did the rest.
Crystal Palace 0
West Ham 1
The home side had a great opportunity seconds after conceding the penalty and the goal when Benteke was played onside by Fredericks and had nobody between him and Fabianski. But with both the left and right side of the goal beckoning for a low shot, he fired high enough for Fabianski to reach to his right and get a hand on it.
Back down the other side, West Ham won a free kick just outside the eighteen yard box when Wan Bissaka got a piece of Cresswell and sent him flying. Snodgrass took the set piece, although I wondered why it wasn’t Anderson going for goal. The threat ended when Antonio and Guaita met again, only this time Pawson awarded a goal kick. A couple of minutes later, Hernandez tried a rare shot from outside the box but it was right at Guaita.
Just before halftime, Palace had more good movement that perhaps on another day would have resulted in something. Zaha rolled the ball into the right side of the box for McArthur, but his low cross wasn’t met by a teammate and rolled all the way out for a West Ham throw.
Crystal Palace 0
West Ham 1
I have rarely seen a player better than Mark Noble at drawing a foul by simply surrounding the ball with his body, turning his back to the opposition, and then getting toppled over. He did it again at the start of the second half. It meant absolutely nothing. But I wanted to make that point.
I don’t know how to describe the McArthur miss in the 53rd minute. He was fed by Van Aanholt, and played onside by Fredericks. The second time today the new right back misread the line. Everything stopped as if the linesman raised his flag. The amount of time McArthur had was kind of spooky. Fabianski went down. And still the shot didn’t come. When it did, it was like those bullets in Pulp Fiction that made Jules find god. It missed. And nobody will ever be able to explain how. All I could think was thank heavens it didn’t happen to us because I’d have a hard time shaking that off.
Van Aanholt got on the end of a mis-hit clearance by Ogbonna in the 58th minute with a terrific volley, but it just went over the crossbar. A few minutes later Palace were let off when Milivojevic took out Noble at midfield. Already on a yellow, it should have been a second and a sending off. But Pawson allowed West Ham to play the advantage, and by the time play stopped it was as if Pawson forgot the foul itself and did nothing.
The cliche is usually The Hits Keep Coming. But for Palace it could be The Misses Keep Coming. In the 68th minute, it was Fredericks yet again who got his line wrong and played Batshuayi onside in front of Fabianski. Ogbonna slid in and certainly pressured the shot, but at 170 grand per week you’d think the Chelsea loanee would put it in the back of the net. He did not.
The goal that had been coming finally came in the 76th minute, and no West Ham supporter could say it wasn’t deserved. While the goal by Zaha inside the box came from a lucky deflection off of Diop, as opposed to the many good chances they had, Palace deserved it. Simple as that.
Crystal Palace 1
West Ham 1
Palace had a great chance to go on top in the 81st minute when Meyer worked with Zaha inside the West Ham box. Zaha got on the ball, took a step to his right and fired a hard shot that Fabianski got down to his left to stop.
Crystal Palace won a free kick in the 88th minute when Diop fouled Meyer just outside the box. As Milivojevic stepped up to take it, visions of a player who probably should not have been on the pitch scoring a winner were hard to fend off. Thankfully his set piece hit the wall. Moments later, Zaha had a good look at the goal but his shot was right at Fabianski.
As the minutes of extra time rolled on, it became obvious that a draw was the best we could hope for. The Hammers were simply battered in the second half, with barely a sniff at goal. In fact, I’m not sure Arnautovic even had a touch after he came on until quite literally the last touch of the game, and that was after he was offside.
Crystal Palace 1
West Ham 1
So instead of the inconsistency we have come to expect from game to game, we saw it half to half. West Ham played some lovely football in the opening forty-five minutes, and virtually none in the second. So at the end of the day, I don’t think we should respect the point.
I think we can be grateful for it.