Hammers Pile More Pressure On ten Hag

West Ham United certainly gave their fans an early Christmas present after beating Manchester United 2-0 in Stratford on Saturday lunchtime.

Kurt Zouma, James Ward-Prowse, Lucas Paquetá and Emerson Palmieri were all restored to the starting line-up with Alphonse Areola and Konstantinos Mavropanos retaining their places from the heavy defeat at Anfield three days earlier.

Thilo Kehrer, Ben Johnson, Saïd Benrahma, Danny Ings and youngster Divin Mubama were once again on the bench.

West Ham were obviously keen to bounce back after their drubbing on Merseyside in midweek while the visitors hadn’t played since their own trip to Anfield six days ago. Erik ten Hag’s men had the best of the opening forty five minutes by putting the Hammers under considerable pressure but didn’t really create a meaningful chance.

Having said that, Palmieri did go close for the Irons after just five minutes. He found space in the box and tested visiting goalkeeper André Onana and after the Cameroon international stopper only parried the defender’s effort, the ball found its way to Paquetá who crossed and although it was cleared, Ward-Prowse then picked up possession and tried his luck but, in all fairness, his shot was never going to hit the target!!!

Jarrod Bowen scored in midweek and wanted to add yet another goal to his already impressive tally for the season. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite do so as he picked up the pieces, following Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s clearance but instead of shooting accurately, he ended up sending his attempt wide. Nevertheless, the hosts kept the pressure up but Tomáš Souček headed wide after he was on the end of a Ward-Prowse free-kick.

Just after the half-hour mark, Anthony might have put the Red Devils in front but luckily, his shot was straight at Areola. The frontman found himself presented with another opportunity a matter of minutes later when he took advantage of some uncharacteristic loose play from Mohammed Kudus and set up Alejandro Garnacho but Areola saw the danger in time and thwarted the winger.

However, it was not long before the same player was on the ball again as he pounced on a mistake from Paquetá, fortunately the Brazilian midfielder quickly made amends for his error and just as Garnacho was about to pull the trigger, Paquetá got a vital block to the ball.

At half-time, all inside the stadium were frustrated by the lack of goals and were hoping for better after the restart.

The second-half started with both teams showing more intent to go and pick up the three points. Bruno Fernandes tried to get the better of Areola twice but the Frenchman was fortunately equal to both, before Bowen was orchestrating matters shortly after. He brought a good save out of Onana.

Having missed that opportunity, he then took his next one when the in-form player notched up another goal, as the Hammers were now starting to dominate proceedings. Bowen and Paquetá have formed a really good understanding in recent weeks and the Brazilian picked out the man who had recently celebrated his 27th birthday and although Onana had initially blocked his effort, the deflection off Bowen’s right knee helped it over the line, bringing massive celebrations from the home faithful.

Another goal was to follow six minutes later, Kudus took advantage of a mistake from the visitors and raced into the box to send the ball beyond Onana.

Moyes made a late double change with Johnson and Pablo Fornals being introduced in place of Bowen and Kudus.

No further goals were added in what eventually was a comfortable win for the East Londoners.

They now take a well-earned break before another tough encounter awaits them on Thursday night, as they face a London derby with Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium.