West Ham United are bottom of the Premier League table after their bad start to the 2022/23 season continued after a 2-0 home defeat to, you guessed it, Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday afternoon.
Eight changes were made from the team that won their UEFA Europa Conference play-off first-leg against Viborg FF on Thursday night, as Łukasz Fabiański, Kurt Zouma, Aaron Cresswell, Declan Rice, Pablo Fornals, Saïd Benrahma and Michail Antonio were all restored to the starting line-up with Tomáš Souček, Vladimír Coufal and Jarrod Bowen keeping their places.
New signing Thilo Kehrer was handed his full top-flight debut by David Moyes, as Ben Johnson and Manuel Lanzini both dropped to the bench.
Also amongst the substitutes were Flynn Downes, Alphonse Areola, Gianluca Scamacca, Angelo Ogbonna Maxwel Cornet, as well as youngsters Connor Coventry and Harrison Ashby.
The Hammers started brightly away at newly-promoted Nottingham Forest a week ago and to be fair, they did the same here but unfortunately, they just couldn’t make their early pressure count with Benrahma seeing his curling effort go just wide, while both Antonio and Bowen were trying to find a way through the Seagulls defence.
Just past the twenty minute mark, an error from Zouma allowed Leandro Trossard to play the ball to Danny Welbeck and Kehrer brought the former Manchester United and Arsenal striker down in the area. Referee Anthony Taylor had no hesitation in awarding a penalty and a VAR check confirmed that it was the right decision.
Fabiański has been renowned for saving spot kicks in the past but he was beaten by this one as Alexis Mac Alistair slotted the ball into the net, leaving the home faithful fearing the worst again.
For the rest of the first-half, Brighton were the better side. Trossard tried his luck again, while Bowen was in the way of Moisés Caicedo’s shot.
After giving away a penalty, the East Londoners appeared to drop their guard and the home fans certainly made their feelings clear when Taylor blew for the break.
Both teams had chances in an open start of the second-half. The visitors had a great chance to add a second but Kehrer was in the right place to prevent any further danger and atone for his earlier mistake, while Benrahma couldn’t find a breakthrough up the other end.
West Ham then piled the pressure on when an effort from Rice was deflected wide of the target, before both Cresswell and Souček had attempts blocked.
The danger wasn’t over there however, as Fornals tested Robert Sánchez from long-range but unfortunately for the majority inside the stadium, the goalkeeper was equal to the effort.
Four minutes later, Moyes made his first change with Fornals making way for Scamacca.
The East Londoners would have wished they had made one of their efforts count as on sixty six minutes the Seagulls went further in front.
A clever flick from Groß set Trossard away and he was able to ease past the home sides’ defence and beat Fabiański.
In an effort to try and change the pattern of the game, Moyes made a triple change on seventy five minutes, as Coufal, Benrahma and Antonio were all replaced with Johnson, Lanzini and Cornet.
The final few minutes saw both Souček and Bowen try and grab a consolation but both efforts were comfortable for Sánchez.
After three minutes of stoppage time, more boos could be heard as Taylor brought proceedings to an end. Moyes and his team are back in action on Thursday night for the second-leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League play-off in Denmark.
Before the encounter with the Seagulls, it was officially confirmed that youngster Nathan Trott has left Stratford to join Danish outfit Vejle Boldklub on a season-long loan. With ten days left in the summer transfer window, if and when more deals are confirmed, all the key details will be provided here.