Brighton and Hove Albion seem to have something of an Indian sign over West Ham United as the Hammers have still not beaten them in the Premier League. On Sunday afternoon in Stratford, the Irons had to come from behind twice to earn a point in a 2-2 draw.
After changing his system back in September following two defeats to start the season, David Moyes decided to deploy a back three here. One change was made to the side that lost away at Chelsea six days ago as Academy graduate Ben Johnson replaced Pablo Fornals who dropped to the bench.
In last season’s corresponding fixture where the sides were made to settle for a point, drawing 3-3, Graham Potter’s team went close in the opening stages through Aaron Mooy and they almost did the same here but fortunately for the hosts, Danny Welbeck saw his attempt go wide.
Although both teams had chances, the Seagulls seemed to make more of theirs, as West Ham were unable to put visiting goalkeeper Robert Sánchez under any real pressure, despite having a succession of corners go their way.
Up the other end, Łukasz Fabiański had more work to do but he wasn’t really tested as he kept out a header from Adam Webster and a low effort from Solly March.
Potter’s men went into the break behind back in February but this time around it was Moyes who had some thinking to do during the interval as Brighton went in front just before half-time. Vladimír Coufal was the only player left to deal with the threat of both March and Dan Burn but they were far too quick for the Czech and March was able to link up with Dan Burn, who in turn delivered a cross into Neal Maupay’s path.
To be honest, the Frenchman’s first touch wasn’t great but then neither was Declan Rice’s control after he had intercepted. All that ended up with Maupay opening the scoring as his shot beat Fabianski.
Both teams made substitutions at the break, as Moyes knew he had to react after a less than impressive first-half display and he did just that with Captain Mark Noble and Jarrod Bowen making way for Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmlenko, while Potter replaced Adam Lallana with Steven Alzate.
Lanzini made the desired impact when he entered the fray in the home encounter with Crystal Palace earlier this month and he was in the thick of the action again when the hosts equalised on the hour mark. He was once again orchestrating the play and managed to help Yarmlenko’s cross back into Johnson’s feet and he produced some clever moves to send the ball past Sánchez to claim his first Premier League goal.
There’s something about Brighton, as they never seem to give up when playing the Hammers and they were up to their old tricks again just ten minutes later. Leandro Trossard played a corner out to March and although Tomáš Souček’s attempted clearance was blocked by Lewis Dunk, it was actually the Seagulls’ skipper who got a vital touch to send the ball past Fabianski.
There were suggestions that the ball had come off Dunk’s arm on its way to goal but those in charge of VAR decided that the goal should stand, meaning that the visitors were only twenty minutes away from securing a third win of the season.
Only once this season have West Ham suffered back-to-back defeats and they were determined not to go down without a fight on this occasion either. They were handed a bit of luck as Dunk’s header hit Souček and the Czech was able to head the ball into the net, giving Sánchez no chance.
The previous three meetings between these two have ended in draws and although both sides were looking for a winner, neither team were able to clinch all three points meaning this encounter was to end the same way.
Lanzini will be one of those hoping to get a chance to be involved from the start if Moyes decides to make changes for West Ham’s next game which sees them head to Southampton on Tuesday evening.