Premier League Match Report (19/01/21): West Ham 2-1 West Brom
The 2020/21 Premier League season began on 12th September 2020, with the new campaign beginning behind closed doors, with West Brom, Leeds and Fulham returning to England's top-flight. We will be providing match reports from select Premier League games throughout the season as the Covid-era of football continues. All aboard.
Match Report (GW19): West Ham 2-1 West Brom
Festivities for Tuesday’s early evening fixture between a West Ham side pushing for the top places in the Premier League currently, on the back of a trio of 1-0 wins, and a travelling West Brom side buoyed by a good 3-2 win at Wolves, offered a potentially interesting encounter as The Baggies look to build on their 11 points this season and a way out of a perilous relegation battle.
The opening exchanges of the game saw a slow feeling out period for both, with Craig Dawson’s 8th minute header at the back-post mistimed and off target, with Dawson frustrated that he had the mercy of the goal available as he had run off his marker.
West Brom probed through a couple of set-pieces without testing Fabianksi in the home net before the Hammers’ full-backs Aaron Cresswell and Vladimír Coufal combined in the 22nd minute, with Cresswell’s cross cleared out to the right-back, who chested down onto his right-foot, unleashing a half-volley that gets a deflection and out for another Cresswell corner. Two minutes later, Cresswell teed up Manuel Lanzini with a cut-back from the left byline though the Argentine’s first-time effort looped without harm and into the hands of the returning Sam Johnstone.
Typifying West Brom’s lack of goal threat in the first-half, Connor Gallagher and Callum Robinson combined from twenty-yards-out just after the 30th minute, with the eventual shot taker Robinson spooning a right-footed effort past the running track at London Stadium and into the empty stands.
Michail Antonio, a passenger in the match so far, was tripped just outside the penalty area, slightly veering to the left-wing on the 33 minute mark, with Lanzini’s free-kick effort rippling the top of the net of Sam Johnstone’s goal, with the game still goalless. Closing in on half-tine, Saïd Benrahma had a pop from range in a central position, drawing a comfortable save from Johnstone – the first-half was essentially a mid-card boxing match with both fighters probing for the first few rounds without landing any bit hits.
Right on the stroke of half-time the encounter woke up and provided an opener for the home side. West Ham dominated possession and eventually worked the ball out to Benrahma on the left. The Algerian floated in a deep cross to the back-post with a marauding Coufal connecting to the cross with a fierce cutback – Jarrod Bowen, quiet for most of the first-half then had the instincts to chest the ball in and past Johnstone to open the scoring. Bowen did excellently here to just guide the ball towards goal as Coufal’s cross was whipped with serious pace.
Out of the blue to begin the second-half there was an equaliser during the 51st minute when Matheus Pereira picked up the ball from outside the area, shifted the ball on to his left-foot and hit a low bolt of a shot that flew past Fabianski for a surprise equaliser.
With the game level, West Ham took control of the proceedings once more and were inches close on multiple occasions through Declan Rice on the 60th minute. First, Antonio had an effort saved and the ball found itself to Rice from outside the penalty area, with Rice’s low-effort palmed clear for a corner. The second chance arrived a minute later when good build up play from the left again saw Rice played through on goal, with Rice flashing the ball across the six-yard-line, with Antonio unable to gamble at the far-post for a tap-in.
The Hammers were able to retain the lead on the 65th minute when Cresswell provided another fine cross that was met and nodded back in the penalty area by substitute, Andriy Yarmolenko, with the dropping ball volley expertly home by Antonio on the spin! The fine effort by the Englishman means Antonio has scored in back-to-back Premier league matches, both at home against Burnley and West Brom – perfect if you’re one of the 9/1% that own the Forward during the Double Gameweek in FPL!
After Antonio’s goal the same settled as West Ham sat on their lead and allowed West Brom to press forward, though the travelling Baggies were unable to mount any serious efforts on goal as the home side edged out a 2-1 win, leaving West Brom rooted on 11 points in the table and pushing West Ham up to 7th place on 32 points after 19 games of the season.
Man of the Match: Michail Antonio (WHU)
Aaron Cresswell was the beating heart of West Ham’s attack in the first-half and supplied some delightful balls to put pressure on Bartley and Ajayi in central defence and deserves a lot of praise for his continued form. Pipping Cresswell to the punch for the Match of the Match accolade, however, was the eventual match winner, Michail Antonio.
The lone forward grew in confidence as the game went on and truly began asserting himself towards the end of the first-half and was unlucky not to have clear sight of goal near the tail-end of the half had it not been for a good recovering clearance from Kyle Bartley. The winner in the second-half was sharply taken and signs that Antonio is coming back to his best after a spell of injury.
Bouncing players off him, exerting strength and running himself into the ground were all positive indicators of another good night’s work and it helps if you owned Antonio in FPL, with the £6.3 million Forward bagging 18 points, earning the maximum 3 bonus points against both Burnley and West Brom!
WHU 2-1 WBA - Insight and Analysis:
Going in to this fixture, especially as a neutral, I had very little expectations of a lively, entertaining fixture, making this a nice occasion when you go away from a football game having enjoyed the experience, somewhat (nothing can be worse than the goalless draw I last reported on between Liverpool and Man United).
Having observed West Ham in recent weeks closely, they have a distinct playstyle that makes them different to breakdown. When out of possession their wingers drop in and their defenders get in really tight, denying space for any form of counters and shots from range. Offensively, Coufal and Cresswell have a good balance at full-back and the same instincts to get forward at every given opportunity, whilst Rice and Soucek looked comfortable in the middle of the park.
West Brom went long far too often without any joy, though looked dangerous with the ball at their feet down the wing. Pereira was isolated for far too much of the match and never got enough support as the Baggies pushed up the pitch.
As for what this game means, West Brom beating relegation looks like a fairytale with each passing week – Big Sam might get a few points here and there but there is no period of the campaign where I see them picking up any substantial points. The final relegation spot will likely go down between Brighton, Burnley, Fulham and Newcastle. West Ham will be a top 10 team – they need more in attack to sustain their form and it will be hard for them to break the upper echelon of the league.
Venue: London Stadium
West Ham United:
Manager: David Moyes
GK: L. Fabianski
DEF: V. Coufal
DEF: C. Dawson
DEF: G. Ogbonna
DEF: A. Cresswell
MID: T. Soucek
MID: D. Rice
MID: J. Bowen
MID: M. Lanzini (Fornals 62')
MID: S. Benrahma (Yarmolenko 62')
FOR: M. Antonio (Noble 84')
Balbuena, Yarmolenko, Alves, Noble, Fornals, Diop, Fredericks, Johnson, Randolph
West Bromwich Albion:
Manager: Sam Allardyce
GK: S. Johnstone
DEF: D. O'Shea
DEF: S. Ajayi
DEF: K. Bartley
DEF: K. Gibbs
MID: C. Gallagher
MID: J. Livermore (Robson-Kanu 80')
MID: R. Sawyers
MID: K. Grosicki (Furlong 70')
MID: M. Costa Pereira
MID: C. Robinson
Furlong, Robson-Kanu, Krovinovic, Ivanovic, Edwards, Peltier, Kipré, Button, Field
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