Both teams needed vital wins in this relegation scrap. West Ham came out victorious taking with them a key three points, moving them to up to 16th position. West Bromwich Albion have won the fewest matches in the league (2), and both were the first games of the season. Both teams have recently changed their managers. Slaven Bilić and Tony Pulis were replaced by David Moyes and Alan Pardew respectively.
David Moyes’s West Ham came back from a one-goal deficit at the halfway point to salvage a win with Andy Carroll scoring in the 93rd minute.
Here are the key points I picked up on.
Marko Arnautović had a hot and cold match. When he was involved in play he looked good. But, if not then was very static and uninterested. He regularly looked lethargic. Arnautović didn’t make great runs and kept calling for the ball when there was clearly no passing lane, as seen in the image above. He would get frustrated when he then didn’t get the ball despite being isolated. He had some chances but failed to convert. The Austrian took on players and got fouled regularly.
West Ham set up as a 532 out of possession with Cresswell tucking into a more central role and Masuaku going to left-back. But, it often resembled a 523 as Lanzini was reluctant to track back much. As the back five sat deep Obiang and Kouyate had a lot of space to cover and were often loft compromised, as seen above. There is a lot of space left in other areas of the midfield and a West Brom player has found space between the back line and midfield two. With the ball in possession, it was a 343 with Zabaleta and Masuaku on the wings. Moyes’s side struggled to transition from defence to attack and there was a massive gap between the deep defence and the front two.
Pardew’s West Brom were organised and well-drilled. They kept a strict shape throughout the match when out of possession. They caged out West Ham and stopped them from progressing with a medium block. West Ham’s defence struggled to get past Albion’s 451. The Baggies’s defensive shape often also resembled a 4141 or 4411 as the central midfielders rotated and pressed. They were able to press well in midfield and confine West Ham’s attacks to out wide.
Throughout the match, Adrian showed impressive, fast distribution, often to Masuaku on the left flank. Moyes has replaced Joe Hart with the Spaniard recently, with reasonable success. His fast distribution allowed the Hammers to attack down the flanks with pace. Masuaku is currently completing 4.8 dribbles per ninety minutes. He offers a dangerous threat on West Ham’s flank and got into dangerous positions throughout the match.
Masuaku completed 7+ take-ons in 4 of his 9 league starts for West Ham (playing mostly as a wing back!). Since he isn’t called Messi or Adama Traoré, we should probably be talking about it.pic.twitter.com/iXoVRRfcJq
— Tiago Estêvão (@TiagoEstv) December 24, 2017
Due to West Brom’s block and West Ham’s non-existent midfield, the East London side couldn’t pass the ball around in midfield. Attacking players such as Lanzini and Carroll had to drop deeper into midfield to receive the ball, but ended up getting isolated.
At half time captain Mark Noble joined the play. It was a much-needed change as they lacked leadership and presence in the centre of the pitch. West Ham went on to create a good chance early in the half, with Mark Noble involved.
West Ham experienced some of the issues discussed a lot when Bilić was in charge. Such as a lack of work rate. Andy Carroll and Arnautović didn’t do enough to make themselves available, open passing lanes and get into good positions. For example, several times Masuaku, Zabaleta or Lanzini had the ball out wide and had no options inside the box, despite having two large forwards on the pitch.
Due to the injury of Aaron Cresswell, Declan Rice made his 10th appearance this season in the Premier League. He impressed again and showed good signs, especially this well-timed tackle against Robson Kanu, which he then followed up with a strong dribble and played Hernandez into a dangerous area.
West Ham drastically improved in the second half. I believe this was mainly due to the introduction of Mark Noble. West Brom showed grit and shape. But, offered little going forward and lack a creative talent or any flair. The Birmingham side look set for relegation without a win in 20 matches. This win took West Ham up to 16th. In a tight relegation battle, they are showing they can survive.
Both teams need to strengthen certain areas of their squad in January and start to collect some points if they want to see the Premier League next season.