David Hautzig's Match Report
West Ham 4, Huddersfield 3. When Three Points Isn't Necessarily A Win.
Not that anyone was, or should have been, surprised to see Arnautovic back in the starting eleven. Hernandez was given a chance to cement his place and leave Mr. Petulance on the bench. But in last weeks woeful performance in Wales the attack looked incrementally better when Arnautovic and Antonio were on the pitch. With a Huddersfield side that has lost 22 times this season, three points was expected. But the Hammers had yet to win three in a row at The London Stadium, and with our DNA and inconsistency it would have been folly to expect those points. In the end, we got the three points in the most bizarre circumstances, and the win did nothing to alter any concerns over our up and down nature.
The first “opportunity” of the day came in minute three, when Huddersfield won a corner after a good spell of possession in midfield. The ball was delivered into a dangerous area in the box, but nobody in blue stripes was there to get to it. Four minutes later, Rice got forward and looped a cross into the box. It took a deflection before it reached Antonio, and without that he may have scored. Instead it went off the bar.
West Ham remained on the front foot, and in the 13th minute Lanzini was brought down inside the box by youngster Aaron Rowe for a stonewall penalty. Noble took care of the rest.
West Ham 1
The lead was stunningly short lived, however. Huddersfield won a corner minutes later, and Mooy whipped it into the box. Nobody, and I mean nobody, marked Bacuna. It was shambolic defending on a set piece. Again.
West Ham 1
The home side tried to shift into a higher gear after the embarrassing equalizer. There was lots of movement in and around the Terriers eighteen yard box, but it took until the 23rd minute for Antonio to turn those efforts into an actual question when he tried a curling effort from 20 yards out that went about a foot over the bar. For Antonio, only a foot over the bar on a long range shot is noteworthy.
Midway through the opening half, the word that came to my mind was “stale”. West Ham looked stale. There was no energy, and virtually nobody looked even remotely disappointed when a pass went wrong or a run was stopped. A little arm waving, and that was that.
It came to a head in the 30th minute. In a season where Huddersfield could barely score a goal at all, they scored a second in the first half. After a foul on Mooy, the set piece was rolled down the left to Lowe. He rolled a low ball into the box, and with the help of a little luck it made its way through to Grant who slotted it home.
West Ham 1
It very easily could have been three moments later when a high ball into the West Ham area completely fooled Fabianski, which hasn’t happened all year. It bounced over his head and towards goal, but thankfully it was Ogbonna and not a Huddersfield player who was there to meet it. Later in the first half, they had a two on one with Pritchard and Mooy, but Zabaleta was able to break up the play. The natives were getting restless, and it was hard to blame them.
West Ham 1
The second half started with one change. Antonio was shown a seat, and Chicharito was asked to kick it up a notch.
In the 48th minute Arnautovic and Hernandez tried to combine in the Huddersfield area. Lossl came out to meet the ball, albeit not too powerfully. On another day the ball might have bounced free for Lil Pea.
In the 54th minute, West Ham were yet again caught napping and Huddersfield broke on the counter. Bacuna got the ball 30 yards out, and with nobody in the box he let it fly. It probably would have gone wide, but Fabianski took no chances and pushed it out for a corner. The marking on the set piece was utterly awful again, and a better ball in would have probably made it three for the visitors.
As the game hit the hour mark, the idea of a draw being the best we could hope for was firmly in my mind. Which was both depressing and infuriating in equal measure. Ridiculous chips into the arms of the goalkeeper, a soft shot inside the box, balls being sprayed around midfield, and disarray at the back. The talent on West Ham is beyond dispute. The attitude is sometimes beyond belief.
The shock of the day went from bad to truly surreal when Grant broke in on goal after a sloppy slide tackle by Ogbonna at midfield, ran at goal, moved a bit to his right, and fired a rifle past Fabianski. It was the first time all season Huddersfield had scored three goals in a match.
West Ham 1
Off went Arnautovic. He went right down the tunnel, with barely a look at a teammate or his manager. I said it in January. If there was an offer from China, we should have taken it. Because now we may be stuck with the Dr. Hyde aspect of Arnie, and nobody will pay anything for a guy like that who no longer scores goals.
On came Perez. Yeah. That guy. He’s still on West Ham. There were boos all around. Tony Gale called the West Ham performance appalling. Not that I would argue with Tony Gale. On a set piece in the 70th minute Mooy put a ball into the box and Stankovic didn’t have to do a lot to beat both Diop and Ogbonna, but his header went wide. It was the kind of moment that I would have liked to turn the match off and probably ignore the whole sport for about a month.
West Ham won a corner in the 75th minute. The ball into the box went in between the two Huddersfield defenders and Ogbonna was there to partially atone for his pathetic day with a header that just went over the line.
West Ham 2
I wanted to feel excited about a possible comeback, and even when Hernandez snuck behind the Huddersfield defense and got on the end of a long cross from Nasri to draw us level, I was still annoyed we had to deal with a comeback at all. Pretty immature of me, I know.
West Ham 3
The visitors won a corner in the 89th minute, and based on West Ham’s dismal play on set pieces there was reason for anxiety. The Hammers cleared the set piece, but what happened next was remarkable. Kongolo had a shot right in front of Fabianski, and somehow Fabianski stopped it. The ball came back out to Puncheon, but his effort went over the bar.
West Ham came back down and won a corner. Cresswell took it short to Anderson. The enigmatic midfielder moved to his right and looped the ball over the defense, and there was Hernandez to guide a header behind Lossl.
West Ham 4
The season had a lot of promise after the win over Arsenal. But then came the loss to Wimbledon in the Cup, and it all came unstuck. Pellegrini promised that we would still push on, fight for seventh and a place in Europe, and not fall asleep until May. Well, Manuel. It doesn’t look that way from where I, and many others, sit. To spend the kind of money we have spent, then lose to Cardiff and need three goals in the final fifteen minutes to beat Huddersfield is a clear sign that we have barely inched forward, let alone pushed on.