Cherries Hold Hammers Again

On the plus side, West Ham United remain unbeaten in 2024 but they are yet to pick up three points after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to AFC Bournemouth on Thursday night.

David Moyes made four changes to the side that faced newly-promoted Sheffield United at Bramall Lane eleven days ago. Ben Johnson, Edson Álvarez, Mohammed Kudus and new signing Kalvin Phillips all came into the starting line-up. Vladimír Coufal was suspended, while Danny Ings dropped to the bench. Once again, youngsters Divin Mubama, Kaelan Casey, Oliver Scarles and Lewis Orford took their places amongst the substitutes.

Maxwel Cornet was on the bench despite interest from Nottingham Forest earlier in the week.

Despite Phillips making his debut and the return of Kudus from the Africa Cup of Nations, the atmosphere seemed unusually flat amongst the majority inside the stadium and what happened next wouldn’t have made it any better. Ryan Christie forced the hosts’ defence into a mistake and he played in Dominic Solanke, who put the Hammers on the back foot in only the third minute of the encounter. Still, they had plenty of time to get back level!!!

There was a VAR check for offside in the build-up to the goal but it was soon cleared and referee Tim Robinson’s overuled the assistant’s original offside flag.

You would have thought that conceding the early goal would’ve sparked Moyes’ men into life but instead, the Cherries looked to extend their lead. Fortunately for the large home support, Marcos Senesi wasn’t able to get a good enough connection to Marcus Tavernier’s free-kick.

The home side began to get to grips with the game, as there was action at both ends by this point. After a shot from Lewis Cook went wide, Phillips forced visiting goalkeeper Neto into a save.

Illia Zabarnyi tried his luck when a clearance from Irons’ Captain Kurt Zouma took a deflection off the Ukrainian and thankfully, Alphonse Areola prevented any further danger. Then, Antoine Semenyo had a chance but Areola came to his team’s rescue again with thirty six minutes gone.

Two minutes later however, Bournemouth’s Brazilian Stopper kept out an effort from James Ward-Prowse, before Tomáš Souček headed over after being set up by Kudus.

Just prior to the break, Areola saved from Tavernier, then the East Londoners survived again when Semenyo’s effort missed the target.

The home fans certainly let their team know that more was expected of them if they were going to find a way back into the game when two minutes of stoppage time had passed and Robinson blew for the break.

Andoni Iraola’s side were still piling on pressure in the second-half, although to be fair, the Hammers had shown signs of improvement. They were starting to turn the tables when Souček and Ward-Prowse linked up again but the Czech midfielder couldn’t take advantage. However, minutes later Lloyd Kelly brought down Kudus. Robinson didn’t see it as a penalty but the VAR official thought that he should review his decision. When looking at it again, he then gave the spot-kick. Ward-Prowse converted in the last match against newly-promoted Sheffield United last time out and he did the same here, sending Neto the wrong way and bringing a collective sigh of relief from the home fans.

Despite the Irons being back level, the Cherries looked the more likely to take all three points although Christie sent an effort wide minutes later.

After that chance was missed, Jarrod Bowen went up the other end and tried his luck but unfortunately, he couldn’t force his header home.

Both managers made changes with sixty eight minutes gone. Moyes introduced Ings in place of Phillips, while Luis Sinisterra was Bournemouth’s change, coming on for Semenyo. The Leeds United loanee was proving a threat but, most importantly, he was unable to put the visitors back in front.

Both teams had chances to win the contest and even though Cornet was introduced with two minutes of the eight added on for stoppages left, the former Burnley man couldn’t make instant impact after being introduced for Kudus.

Let me tell you, the mood hadn’t changed amongst the home fans from half-time and they will hope for a better performance from their team when Moyes’ men will attempt to do the double over Manchester United on Sunday afternoon.

As we all know, Thursday was the day that the January transfer window finally closed. However, it took until today for West Ham’s last few deals to be confirmed. Saïd Benrahma has joined French club Olympique Lyonnais on loan for the rest of the current campaign. The deal also includes an option to make the move permanent, should the Algerian winger impress.

Elsewhere, Pablo Fornals has linked up again with former manager Manuel Pellegrini at Real Betis in La Liga and finally, it was announced that youngster Dan Chesters will spend the rest of the 2023/24 season at Sky Bet League Two side Salford City.