David Hautzig's Match Report
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning I woke up and grabbed one of my West Ham coffee mugs to start my day. A West Ham t-shirt or jersey was the selected attire. Cloud nine through and through. Thursday, Friday, and today was a different tune. Basic, plain mug followed by whatever clothing had no claret or blue to be found. I didn’t even want to think about the club, football, even sport in general. That was my reaction to the perverse performance put forth on Wednesday evening. It killed all the positivity and momentum of the opening six matches. It reignited all of the doubts, self or otherwise, that are the hallmarks of West Ham United Football Club. Fortunes Always Hiding indeed. From a performance perspective, however, today helped stem the tide of those doubts.
When did Sweet Caroline become an anthem for so many sports teams? I don’t much care about the Boston Red Sox, but it’s theirs as far as I’m concerned. Bournemouth need to find a tune of their own. Rant over.
Despite some being critical of Fornals, I like what I have seen so far. Having said that, for the second time this season he decided not to have a go at goal when he clearly should have. In the third minute he got the ball twenty yards from goal, at the edge of the area, and chose to put the ball wide for Yarmolenko. West Ham eventually won a corner, but it amounted to nothing. Shoot, Pablo. Shoot.
The opening ten minutes were positive for West Ham, with good spells of possession. In the tenth minute, Anderson sent a looping pass to Haller in the Bournemouth eighteen yard box. The skill Haller showed to control the pass with the outside of his right foot, bring it down, and then lay it off for Yarmolenko was a thing of beauty. Once Yarmolenko rolled Ake off of him and got space on his left foot, the rest was almost predictable. That’s how good he is in such a spot.
West Ham 1
The Cherries had their first corner of the match in the 17th minute when Fredericks played it very, very safe by putting a low cross out with Solanke not that close. The set piece was played short, and Rico sent a cross into the box. Ake pushed it on, and King was there to put it past Fabianski. The offside flag went up, as did the call for VAR. The little electric lines were drawn, and after a minute or so Atwell pointed at the center circle.
West Ham 1
West Ham responded to the equalizer with some good ball movement forward, especially between Anderson and Haller. Fornals and Noble worked a give and go on the right side of the Bournemouth box to win a corner that eventually ended up calmly in the arms of Ramsdale. Minutes later Anderson sent Fredericks on the run with a rolling pass down the right side. The right back sent the ball into the box and Cook took no chances and tapped it out for another Hammers corner. Again, the visitors didn’t manage an attempt on target, but the attacking intent was there.
The 32nd minute brought what should have been good news when a wonderfully weighted pass from Noble sent Yarmolenko in on goal. He was pulled from behind by Rico, winning a free kick from a dangerous spot and a yellow card. But then the camera showed Fabianski lying on the ground after sending the ball downfield. He immediately waved to be taken off. I tweeted after the lineups were announced that I would have put Martin on the bench instead of Roberto. Oxford, I thought, made that obvious. In my mind, the match was likely lost at that point.
In the 35th minute, West Ham went on the attack. Anderson rolled a pass towards Haller at the top of the box, but the Frenchman let it roll past him and onto the right foot of Noble. A pass across the box would have been a good option there with Haller waiting, but the Captain went for goal and hit the side netting.
The half moved to it’s conclusion without much fanfare until added time when West Ham came oh so close to retaking the lead. Yarmolenko rolled the ball to Fredericks on the right side of the box, who found Fornals in front of goal. He couldn’t quite sort out his feet, and his eventual attempt was blocked by Ake. The ball went to Anderson, but his scissor kick was palmed over the bar by Ramsdale. The corner that followed found Ogbonna but his header went off Solanke and out for another corner. That set piece was handled by the home side, and the opening forty-five minutes were in the books.
West Ham 1
The second half had barely started before the afternoon well and truly looked to be going downhill for West Ham. 29 seconds in, Wilson did his Lukaku imitation by scoring his seventh goal against us. Solanke was fouled, but Atwell let the action continue and Bournemouth took full advantage. King got the ball at the top of the box, tapped it to Wilson, and the forward rifled it past Romero. At least he dove this time. More than we can say about his performance the other night.
West Ham 1
Bournemouth were back on the attack in the 54th minute when the Wilson’s combined. Harry passed to Callum near the top of the box, who tried to find an onrushing Billing. His shot was deflected out for a corner. The set piece came to Ake ten yards from goal, and he put a bouncing shot through the wickets of Romero. But a late flag and no VAR come to West Ham’s rescue. Minutes later Rice fouled Billing, giving the Cherries a free kick 25 yards from goal. The delivery found Callum Wilson, but his header went over the bar.
I’ll say this much about our club. In the 28 years I’ve supported West Ham, I have rarely seen us capable of holding the ball as well as we do now. At around the hour mark, we must have completed close to fifty passes before the ball was finally aimed at goal by Yarmolenko. His curling effort didn’t curl quite enough and went wide for a goal kick. Moments later it was Bournemouth on the attack. Two long passes and Callum Wilson was on the ball at the top of the West Ham box. His shot went right at Roberto, but the backup keeper didn’t even seem to try to catch the ball. He crossed his arms….you couldn’t make it up if you tried…and blocked it out for a corner that West Ham was able to clear.
West Ham came very close to leveling in the 70th minute. Lanzini, who had just come on for Fornals, did very well to win the ball in the Bournemouth half. He passed to Yarmolenko on the right, who then sent a cross to the far post that Anderson got to. But his bouncing header was saved by Ramsdale and cleared off the line.
How Bournemouth didn’t score a third in the 73rd minute I may never know. Solanke played a lovely touch pass to Harry Wilson, who then fed Callum Wilson in on goal alone. Maybe he couldn’t decide whether to go through Romero’s legs or around him. In the end he put it into the keepers chest. West Ham used that Get Out Of Jail Free Card to launch an attack of their own, and once again it started with Yarmolenko. He sent another cross to Anderson at the far post, only this time the midfielder headed it back to Cresswell in the box and for the second time in two league matches he put it where it needed to go.
West Ham 2
West Ham, to their credit, looked for a third. Good possession and ball movement led to a decent effort on goal by Rice that Ramsdale pushed away for a West Ham throw. Haller won the ball in the Bournemouth half but had no options, and then Lanzini went on a run but chose the passing route too early when a little more possession might have led to a chance.
West Ham 2
The Vitality Stadium has not been a very kind place for West Ham in recent times. When the injury to Fabianski occurred, I was 100% convinced there was no way back for us. The early second half goal by Wilson solidified those feelings. Yet from a possession and attacking point of view, West Ham were the better side throughout. Perhaps Fabianski would have made that save. We will never know. Nigel Kahn always says a point away from home in the Premier League is a good point.
Today he couldn’t be more correct.