West Ham United finally achieved a victory over a Wolverhampton Wanderers team managed by Nuno Espírito Santo which means they are now up and running in the Premier League after a 4-0 win in Stratford in Sunday’s late kick-off.
Although Alan Irvine was again in charge, David Moyes had picked the team and he made one change to the side that narrowly lost at Arsenal eight days earlier. With Issa Diop unavailable, Fabián Balbuena slotted into the defence. Mark Noble made the matchday eighteen but it was decided that he would be amongst the substitutes, meaning Declan Rice again took the Captain’s armband.
You would have thought that Wolves would have been the fresher of the two sides, given that the Irons were last in action on Tuesday in their Carabao Cup fourth round tie against Sky Bet League One outfit Hull City but they must have taken confidence from knocking out the Tigers, as they continued from where they had left off in that match here.
They went ahead on seventeen minutes. Willy Boly had conceded a free-kick after a foul on Michail Antonio. Quick thinking from Pablo Fornals set Jarrod Bowen away. The winger raced past Wolves’ skipper Connor Coady and rifled a curling shot past Rui Patrício in the visitors’ goal.
In recent matches, the Hammers have had plenty of chances but haven’t been able to take full advantage and it was the same here, as Antonio, Tomáš Souček and Fornals all went close but couldn’t find the killer touch.
When Wolves last visited East London on June 20, Łukasz Fabiański was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers but here, he was a virtual bystander with the away side only really testing the Pole seconds before referee Martin Atkinson blew for half-time. Rúben Neves did make him work but in truth, the Spaniard’s effort was easy for the former Arsenal and Swansea City man to save.
Just like half-time at The Emirates Stadium last weekend, the home side would have been pleased with their efforts, the difference here though was that they were in the ascendancy as they went down the tunnel for the break.
Four minutes into the second-half, West Ham were dealt a blow as Ryan Fredericks was forced off and replaced by Academy graduate Ben Johnson but that didn’t knock them off their stride.
On fifty seven minutes, Bowen claimed his second of the game. Antonio and Fornals were again involved, as Coady was beaten for pace once again but this time by the former Nottingham Forest man in order for him to gain possession, he then played in Fornals. The midfielder’s shot unfortunately came back off the post but Bowen was there to follow up.
The East Londoners further increased their advantage just nine minutes later. Aaron Cresswell’s corner looked to have set up Souček, the ball did hit the net but at the last moment, it deflected off the unfortunate Raúl Jiménez.
With West Ham seemingly on course for their first three points of the new campaign and with little time to go, Irvine decided to make a double change as he replaced Bowen and Antonio with Noble and Sébastien Haller.
The Frenchman notched up another two goals against the Tigers and now has one against Wolves. With one of the four added minutes having passed, he beat Patrício with a header following a perfect cross from Arthur Masuaku.
Irvine will now hope to follow up this win by booking a Carabao Cup quarter-final place for the Irons, as he takes them to his former club Everton on Wednesday night.