Hammers Turn in Vintage Performance Against Clarets
West Ham United are up to ninth in the Premier League table after a vital 1-0 win over Burnley in Stratford on Saturday afternoon.
Aaron Cresswell, Tomáš Souček, Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen were all restored to the starting line-up for this game, with Mark Noble, Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko all dropping to the bench.
Łukasz Fabiański made the team after being passed fit, following his recovery from a thigh injury, while Michail Antonio retained his place from the third round FA Cup win over National League side Stockport County five days earlier.
After a surprise win over Everton at Goodison Park on New Year’s Day, the Hammers were keen to get another three points on the board and they were in front with only nine minutes gone.
The team had certainly missed Antonio’s presence over the last month and he made the desired impact here when he got himself on the scoresheet after finishing off a move which involved Jarrod Bowen and Pablo Fornals by sending the ball past Nick Pope in the visitors goal.
Amazingly, Sean Dyche’s men have only scored nine top-flight goals this season and they thought they had a tenth when Cresswell was unfortunate to divert Chris Wood’s cross past his own goalkeeper with Ashley Barnes in close proximity. However, the East Londoners were given a reprieve when the linesman raised his flag for offside.
The hosts nearly doubled their advantage on thirty six minutes but Angelo Ogbonna’s header came back off the post, following great linkup play from both Bowen and Captain Declan Rice but it was visiting skipper Ben Mee who just made the interception with his outstretched foot.
Despite Burnley’s lack of goals this season, the Irons were wary that in the past, one goal is rarely enough against them and although the hosts went into the break with the lead, they clearly wanted to see if they could make it a more comfortable one.
The second-half started with the home side almost extending their advantage but unfortunately for West Ham, Mee was in the way and prevented Antonio’s header from crossing the line after the former Nottingham Forest man was on the end of Vladimír Coufal’s cross.
Rice then tried to find the goal that would have secured the points when he sent a fierce free-kick inches wide, while Fornals and Saïd Benrahma were both denied.
Moyes made his first change on sixty eight minutes, as Lanzini took the place of Benrahma.
Shortly after making that change, the Scot could have seen his side go further in front after Rice played Bowen in but the former Hull City winger was unfortunate only to have found the side netting.
That was Bowen’s final contribution, as he was then substituted, with Yarmolenko taking his place.
The Ukrainian almost made an instant impact but he unfortunately sent his effort wide when he should really have done better.
The visitors suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to Manchester United four days earlier and they were about to do the same here but they might have had more to celebrate, had a cross from Dwight McNeil been six inches lower.
The Hammers have played well in recent weeks but this was a day just to get the result and that is exactly what they had managed to do when referee Christopher Kavanagh blew the final whistle.
It’s a full week of home games to come as both Sam Allardyce and Robert Snodgrass return to Stratford with newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.