West Ham Denied By VAR Again!!!

In last weekend’s Premier League home match with newly-promoted Burnley, West Ham United were prevented from taking all three points, thanks to a VAR decision. Seven days later, the same happened again, meaning they only drew 1-1 with Aston Villa in Stratford.

Emmerson Palmieri had recovered from the groin strain that he had picked up against SC Freiburg in the first-leg of their UEFA Europa League Round of 16 tie ten days ago and was fit enough to make the starting line-up. Aaron Cresswell dropped to the bench, while Alphonse Areola was recalled for Łukasz Fabiański. Tomáš Souček made his 150th Premier League appearance for the club. George Earthy was the only youngster included on the bench.

The start of this match was always going to be key to see who had recovered quicker from their European excursions. Thankfully for the majority inside the stadium, it was the Hammers. They continually put their visitors under pressure but were unable to apply the killer blow.

They did have to survive a scare though, when Oliver Watkins went close but the ever-reliable Areola thwarted him.

However, they eventually opened the scoring with twenty nine minutes gone. A great team move involving Michail Antonio, Palmieri, Lucas Paquetá and Souček ended with Vladimír Coufal sending a cross into the area and it evaded four defenders to reach the Jamaican international, who got to the ball ahead of Ezri Konsa to head it into the net and past visiting goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and the home fans were once again in a celebratory mood.

The home side were definitely looking to continue from where they had left off three days ago and looked like they would go further ahead. Having said that though, Unai Emery’s side were comfortable in possession.

West Ham once again went forward in order to try and test the Villains’ defence and despite a number of chances, they were still only in front by one.
Paquetá tried his luck, only for his effort to take a deflection off his own teammate, as Souček got in the way. Then, Coufal went close to doubling his team’s advantage but Martínez repelled the Czech’s attempt. However, when the ball fell back to him, he volleyed it wide of the far post.

The Irons were given a succession of corners but unfortunately, they weren’t able to capitalise on them. Paquetá inadvertently headed one over, before the second was punched clear.

Mohammed Kudus thought he had added his name to the scoresheet but referee Jarred Gillett ruled the effort out for a foul by Antonio.

Moyes’ men were clearly the dominant side up to this point, as Areola was barely worked. He was however needed to thwart Morgan Rogers when he went close.

The home side hoped that they would have been in a more comfortable position but nevertheless, when Gillett blew the whistle for half-time, they were still in front.

Clearly disappointed with what he’d seen in the first-half, Emery made a double change during the break, as he threw on both Clément Lenglet and Moussa Diaby for Jhon Durán and Matthew Cash.

Just as they were a week ago, the large home support were celebrating an early goal when another Jarrod Bowen corner was sent over and Antonio had seemingly grabbed his second of the afternoon but, after a lengthy VAR check, those cheers turned to boos, as it was disallowed for handball.

Emery’s men suddenly sprung into life and began to give the Hammers a taste of their own medicine. However, they were unable to make their pressure count and somehow, the home side’s advantage was still intact.

On sixty six minutes, Moyes decided to keep Antonio fresh and replace him with Ben Johnson.

Leon Bailey was stopped in his tracks by Palmieri, while Areola was in the right place to keep out an effort from former Leicester City defender Youri Tielemans. Seconds later the Frenchman stayed alert to stop Konsa from beating him.

Kudus scored a superb goal against the Bundesliga outfit on Thursday and he could have been on the way to another here but instead, he was fouled in the process and a free-kick was awarded to the hosts.
With James Ward-Prowse having started the game on the bench, it was left to Paquetá to send it over but when he did, Martinez managed to beat it away. The resulting corner however saw Kudus shoot wide.

The Villains had been in the ascendancy since the restart and they eventually broke the home side’s resilience with twelve minutes of normal time to play. Diaby found fellow substitute Nicolò Zaniolo, who had earlier taken the place of Rogers and the Italian finished past a helpless Areola.

With Moyes now looking for his team to find a way back into the game, he made a double change by introducing Cresswell and Ward-Prowse for Palmieri and Paquetá.

The Irons were still on the attack and could have clinched the points but when Ward-Prowse had his effort blocked by Cash, all hope had seemingly disappeared. However, with very little time remaining, a corner was awarded their way.

Ward-Prowse delivered the set-piece into the box and the home fans erupted when Souček knocked the ball past Martinez. Cheers could be heard again but, yet another VAR check was called for to see if the midfielder had used his hand to help the ball over the line.

Initially, seven minutes of added time had been signalled but this stoppage severely extended it and after several more minutes, a West Ham goal had once again not been allowed to stand!!

When the whistle was finally blown, the boos were more for the referee and VAR, rather than the fact that the team had let another advantage slip.

When Premier League action resumes on March 30 after the international break, the Irons have two games in the space of three days. A trip to Newcastle is first up, before a London derby here under the lights against fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur to start April.