David Hautzig's Match Report

Sheffield United 0. West Ham 1. The Beauty Of Consistency.

I am one of the eight listeners of Moore Than Just A Podcast, in case anyone was wondering. Last week’s episode was aptly named Much Ado About Nothing. Ol’ William was likely none too pleased to have one of his titles attached to a two hour and forty-five minute discussion of cheese, Nigel’s birthday (all the best mate), and postal codes. There was no earthly reason for me to enjoy any of it, but I did. Particularly the debate between Sean, Nigel and Canning Town Len over tribalism and postal codes. I laughed pretty heartily at times, actually. Within that conversation Nigel mentioned a very good mate of his who is a Tottenham supporter, and Nigel admitted that historically he doesn’t hate those arrogant, spying, low life North London swine merchants. I do. I mean, I respect them. Yesterday was a masterclass from Mou and his band on defending and counter attacking. But I have never and will never root for them against anyone. Same goes for today’s opponent. Our historical rivalry with them isn’t that historical. It’s less than fifteen years old and centers entirely on a single clause in a contract of a single player. Grow up and get over it, Blades. You went down because that year you were crap. End of. This year looks destined to end the same way. But as happens all too often, teams on the snide need only a little time with West Ham to find some form.

Not today.

For a team that has only scored four goals thus far this season, The Blades certainly started like a side that knows where the net is. A low cross in the first minute was only a few inches away from McBurnie in the West Ham eighteen yard box, and then a pass over the top of Masuaku found Baldock in the box. Fabianski cut down the angle and made a good save with his right leg. Sheffield United used those early half chances to create some confidence and it was the home side asking all the questions, including a corner in the 9th minute that West Ham thankfully cleared. But the bottom of the table side opened the match looking like a team challenging for Europe, while we looked like a team soaking up pressure while we waited for a break.

West Ham played themselves back into the game a bit, winning a corner in the 19th minute after a decent spell of possession. Cresswell’s delivery found Ogbonna but the central defender’s header had no pace and Sheffield cleared. Only for a moment, however, and Bowen was able to try a low shot from the edge of the area that was blocked by Egan. At least some of the play was happening in their end.

Sheffield United had a great chance to open the scoring in the 24th minute when a badly played pass from Cresswell allowed the home side to break with numbers. Baldock took the ball down the right and rolled a pass to McBurnie. The Scottish international had a good look at goal, but Fabianski palmed the effort away. West Ham couldn’t clear, which allowed another low but weak shot that the West Ham keeper gathered up.

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The Hammers had their first chance of the day in the 28th minute. It started with a fine move by Masuaku in a tight space on the left. He passed to Bowen, who should have shot but instead rolled a pass to Coufal on the right, and the right back’s low effort was palmed away by Ramsdale. Nigel Kahn in the unofficial VAR booth said Masuaku had been guilty of a handball in the buildup, so who knows what might have happened.

A few minutes later West Ham should have taken the lead when Haller got on the end of a cross and sent Soucek on goal with a flick header. With Bowen in front of the net, Soucek tried to beat Ramsdale and sent his shot wide. He buried his head in his hands because he knew one way or the other it should have ended in the back of the net. Moments later West Ham won another corner, but it amounted to nothing but Atkinson’s whistle. Offside? Foul? Don’t know, and frankly don’t really care.

Sheffield almost scored from a truly innocent cross by Baldock that McBurnie went up high to meet. His header was destined for the corner of the net but Fabianski dove to his left to meet it and make the save. Minutes later Bowen had a great chance inside the Sheffield eighteen yard box but Egan made a fine block of what would have been a point blank shot on target. West Ham won a corner, but the delivery to Soucek ended with a soft header over the bar.

Half Time.
Sheffield United 0
West Ham 0

As the second half begun, the inevitable questions about Haller felt like they were at the forefront. Not because of the half chance he had after a looping pass from Masuaku. It was more about the type of movement he offered. He does not stand still as many detractors say. But his runs are not, for lack of a better way to say it, scary. When Antonio moves, it has to be terrifying for defenders. They don’t know what he will do or where he will go. With Haller, it’s as if defenders have a decent idea of what to expect, so they react accordingly. That leaves our midfield with fewer options, and thus fewer chances.

Yet in the 56th minute, movement wasn’t the point. Pure power was front and center. After a shot by Fornals was blocked near the top of the box, the ball landed at the feet of Haller. The only part of him that moved was his right leg. And that leg catapulted the ball at a very high rate of speed into the top corner. It was a great finish. It was an equally angry finish.

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Sheffield United 0
West Ham 1

The Hammers had a great chance to double their lead in the 61st minute when Bowen went on a run down the left after a blocked pass by Cresswell. He had Haller in the middle, but he cut to his right and tried to slice himself through the box. Instead he crashed into Haller. Bowen stayed still, the ball rolled away. It was a chance that could have been handled far, far better. A few minutes later The Hammers won a corner, taken by Bowen. After a bit of pinball action the ball found it’s way to Rice but his shot was partially blocked and Ramsdale handled it easily.

West Ham had another chance to double their lead in the 69th minute when Rice sent a lead pass to Masuaku on the left, who kept the run going before sending a hard, low pass to Haller in front of goal. The pass was actually too hard, and Haller couldn’t direct the ball where he wanted. Instead it ricocheted off him and out for a goal kick. A few minutes later West Ham won a corner. Cresswell found Rice in the box, but the man who scored his first for England last week hit the bar.

Sheffield United came inches from a leveler in the 75th minute after Masuaku lost the ball in midfield, which allowed the home side to counter. McBurnie was sent in on goal all alone, but his rifle shot went off the bar with a very loud clang.

West Ham had good spells of possession as the game wound down, with Masuaku in particular showing confidence on the ball. But even after a number of solid passes and movement, we would make one poor pass or one poor decision that allowed Sheffield to get back on the ball. But the hosts weren’t fluid enough in their own movements, and as normal time ticked way it didn’t look like they would find a way through.

Final Score
Sheffield United 0
West Ham 1

An away win at the team on the bottom of the Premier League table would not normally be significant. But I think it was. None of need to be reminded of the regularity in which teams on a bad run found their fortunes from ours hiding. We have often been the cure to all that ails our opponents. But two wins on the bounce with two clean sheets against teams down there is what I consider the next level for us. Moyes has brought a spine, a spirit, and a level of game management we have not had in a very long time. I defended his appointment both times, and I doubt anyone would argue that today.

West Ham. United.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 1, Fulham 0. Lightning Strikes Twice.

Boy, after the week we’ve had here I really needed some lighthearted football. Normally, these kinds of matches cause me more stress than the matches against the big boys. I go into them depressed and hope for a pleasant surprise. But against a recently promoted side like Fulham, I expect more. I expect to win. And so often we don’t win those types of matches, leading to online hand wringing and angst. Which is not meant to disrespect the Cottagers. Truth be told, I have them staying up in the one prediction contest for Top Four and Bottom Three I take part in. So the Yin in me demanded a win today, whilst the Yang prepared to be disappointed.

The Hammers came very close to opening the scoring in the fourth minute when Fornals broke into the Fulham penalty area on the right side and tried a low rolling pass across the face of goal. It found Masuaku, who would have loved to score on his birthday but Areola made the save. The ball bounced out to Cresswell, who timed his volley well but Areola blocked it out for a corner. Seconds later, Soucek tried a 25 yarder that forced yet another save from the visiting keeper. Moments later West Ham won another corner, and Cresswell’s delivery met up with Haller in the box but his header went off the bar. Four chances, no goals.

After a good start from West Ham, Fulham grew back into the match. They won a free kick in the 9th minute after a foul by Rice. At that moment my NBC stream froze, but I heard that Mitrovic hit the wall with his free kick. It was end to end, entertaining stuff. Great for the neutral. As if I care about the neutrals. A few minutes later Reed…as opposed to Reid…tried to curl a pass to Mitrovic in the box but the Serbian couldn’t reach the pass. Then in the 20th minute Cairney slid a pass in front of Fabianski that had Mitrovic followed he would have had an easy tap in. Instead it rolled out for a goal kick.

It was Cairney looking for Mitrovic again in the 24th minute, and this time the header went wide. But the strategy was coming into focus. Target the left side in particular with crosses because of the height advantage the Fulham frontman had over just about everyone.

Bowen has had a very impressive start to his career at West Ham. He had a chance to add to his goal tally in the 25th minute when Cresswell sent a terrific cross into the box. Bowen met it in stride, but instead of an attempt on goal he tried to head it back into the center of the box. He needed selfishness there instead of generosity.

Fulham had their best chance of the half in the 39th minute when Lookman fed a through ball for Mitrovic inside the West Ham eighteen yard box, who tried to chip the ball over Fabianski. It rolled wide, and Reid….as opposed to Reed…chased it down but couldn’t find an angle for a shot. In the end the offside flag went up, but in real time it was squeaky bum time.

Halftime
West Ham 0
Fulham 0

The first opportunity of the second half belonged to West Ham when Reed fouled Soucek with a boot right in the middle of the chest at the top of the Fulham eighteen yard box. Cresswell took it, and did well to beat the wall. But he couldn’t beat the bar, and for the second time today The Hammers were denied by a piece of lumber. Or perhaps it’s composite? Don’t really know. Anyway, seconds later West Ham won a corner. Fulham cleared, but the ball went out to Bowen who tried a volley that took a deflection. Areola was beaten, but the ball went wide. Shades of the opening ten minutes, with West Ham having chances but coming away empty handed.

David Moyes is not one to make substitutions quickly. While others might have made a change at halftime, Moyes rarely does that. Today was no exception. Around the hour mark, the television showed Benrahma and Lanzini getting ready to come on. For who was the question. But fate intervened when Ogbonna went down injured and had to come off. Diop came on, which had to be considered a worry with Ogbonna in the form of his West Ham career. Mitrovic probably started to drool just a bit.

Fulham won a free kick from a very dangerous position in the 69th minute when Balbuena was called for a foul just outside the West Ham penalty area. Fabianski set up his wall, and Lookman stepped up. His attempt beat the wall but not Fabianski. Fulham stayed on the attack, and Reid tried a low shot after beating Masuaku but Fabianski made the low save.

After waiting over ten minutes to come on, the longest I think I’ve ever seen a substitute wait, both Lanzini and Benrahma entered for Bowen and Fornals. I was surprised to see Bowen come off to be fair, thinking Masuaku had not had one of his better days. Then again, nobody on West Ham had to that point.

With ten minutes to go, Fulham brought on one time Hammers target Loftus-Cheek. But at the same time, they looked to be dropping back just a bit, possibly happy to settle for a point. It looked sensible, because West Ham had not looked terribly threatening since the opening minutes of the half.

West Ham won a gift of a corner in the 87th minute when Robinson lost his footing and allowed the ball out for the set piece. Cresswell sent a very high delivery into the box that Haller tried to get to, but his header went out weakly for a goal kick.

In the 89th minute Benrahma danced into the box on the left. With a very tight angle, he tried not once but twice to beat Areola. Soucek and Haller were in the box, but the newest Hammer tried to be the hero. It didn’t work. But a few seconds later, in the dying seconds of the match, Benrahma found himself with the ball again in the box. This time, he looked up and saw Soucek who slotted it home.

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West Ham 1
Fulham 0

In the last second of added time, Cairney went down inside the box after a challenge from Lanzini and Benrahma. And with three points seemingly in the bag, Benrahma went from assisting a winning goal to giving up a penalty that 99 times out of 100 gives Fulham a point.

It’s not just that he missed it. But it’s the way he missed it. He tried to be Zidane. Instead he might need to flee the country, quarantine be damned. My best mate Jon was listening on the radio here, and he described their commentary this way. Not verbatim, mind you, but the spirit should be on point.

“I need a few seconds to try to tell you what I just saw. And that might not tell you how bad it actually was” is how the presenter explained it.

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Final Score
West Ham 1
Fulham 0

I have a few friends who are Fulham supporters. One of them is a good customer who I will be seeing on Tuesday. The other is actually in charge of the crew who will eventually open the New York location for Hawksmoor. And I have a soft spot for Fulham, who have long been one of my second favorite teams. I hope they stay up, but they may look back on today quite ruefully.

As for us, it’s a very odd feeling. We hardly ever get those kinds of breaks in a tight match, let alone two. Is that a sign of fortunes hiding a bit less? We can always live in hope. Yet apart from the first few minutes of each half we were quite average, and Fulham could have walked away with the spoils on another day. But this wasn’t their day.

It was ours. Twice.


David Hautzig's Match Report

Liverpool 2, West Ham 1. Still Building. Still Learning.

If Twitter were listened to, or worse more often than not believed, the world would be a pretty scary place. I’m not talking about global events, although I am definitely thinking about them this week. With our beloved club, Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku would have been banished to Sunday League a long time ago, never to be seen in Claret and Blue again. But luckily David Moyes uses his own eyes and his backroom staff to coach and make informed decisions, and because of that those two players are and likely will be important to our season. Thus, when the shouts of how Sebastien Haller was utterly useless and should be sent away as soon as possible started rolling down the timeline, I pretty much ignored them. He may or may not be a success long term in the EPL, but there is a fine player in there somewhere. We have seen glimpses, and if played properly we could easily see them again. The predictable hamstring injury to Antonio made him the main Hammers story going into Anfield today. Liverpool, of course, had injury problems of their own. Lots of them. Forgive me for sounding unsympathetic, but when your second team could push for Europe you won’t have any East London tears shed for you. Add to that Moyes winless lifetime record at Anfield, Mo Salah’s six goals in six games against us, and our overall record up there, today didn’t exactly look promising despite our recent form.

The opening minutes were all about the formation. West Ham stayed compact, five across the back, with Haller alone up top. Defensively, it made all the sense in the world. But with Haller asked to imitate the style and work rate of Antonio, the attack looked problematic. Nevertheless, West Ham won a corner in the 8th minute when Coufal whipped in a cross for Haller, but Liverpool debutante Phillips anticipated the run and headed it out. Bowen’s delivery flew over everyone and out for a goal kick.

Exactly 250 days ago, Pablo Fornals gave West Ham an unlikely 2-1 lead at Anfield after coming off the bench. In the 10th minute, Ogbonna started a counter by getting the ball up to Bowen at midfield. Bowen got the ball wide to Masuaku, who sent a cross into the box. Gomez tried to head the ball clear, but it headed right at Fornals. The young Spaniard chested it down, and like a table top wooden football player just put his leg through it and the low shot beat Alisson.

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Liverpool 0
West Ham 1

The goal did nothing to reset the overall tempo of the match, with Liverpool on the ball for the vast majority of the time. Whenever West Ham took possession, it was short lived. A few side to side passes, followed by a back pass to Fabianski, followed by a long wishful ball swallowed back up by the hosts. But The Hammers showed a little more intent getting the ball wide, and if two crosses from Masuaku had been a bit better perhaps Haller would have had a chance.

In the 25th minute, Mane was sent in on goal but Cresswell did very well to get in front of the Liverpool speedster and stop the attack. VAR had a look, but was friendly to Kevin Friend and nothing was given. Seconds later West Ham came close to disaster when Ogbonna and Fabianski crossed signals and paths, and what should have been an easy catch for the West Ham keeper spilled into the eighteen yard box. Powder blue got to the ball before red, and West Ham survived a scary moment.

Liverpool won a very dangerous free kick in the 39th minute when Rice took down Wijnaldum just outside the West Ham eighteen yard box. He knew right away it was a potentially lethal mistake. But he was the guy who blocked the shot off the wall, and it looked like mayeb West Ham would get to the whistle with the lead. However, seconds later Masuaku brought down Salah inside the box. It was the slightest of contact, but Salah went straight down. Friend pointed to the spot, Salah stepped up, and sent the ball right down the middle.

Halftime
Liverpool 1
West Ham 1

The first opportunity of the second half belonged, unsurprisingly, to the hosts when Rice took down Wijnaldum from behind 25 yards from goal. The Reds tried a cheeky chip over the wall to Salah, but his header had no pace and Fabianski caught it easily. Down the other end Masuaku penetrated on the left and sent a low ball into the box. Bowen waited for it, but Fornals jumped in and tried to direct it past Alisson. Had Fornals let it go, Bowen had the far better chance. Ohhhh, what might have been.

It’s hard to write about matches like this, because there are so many long stretches where nothing of substance happens. But there is always the threat of it because a side like Liverpool can just dominate the time on the ball. Without Antonio as a powerful outlet in such a match, especially against a first timer like Phillips, more than a little luck would be needed for West Ham. And with an hour gone, it was hard to see where any luck could come from.

West Ham had a scary moment in the 63rd minute when Cresswell tried to beat Alexander-Arnold and his legs went out from under him. One leg went one way, the other leg went in the opposite direction. If it had been a cartoon the sound of pants ripping would have been played. Thankfully the injury wasn’t serious and he continued.

Fornals and Bowen broke into the Liverpool box together after Haller won a little flicked header in the 63rd minute, but Robertson was able to block Fornal’s low shot despite turning his back on the shot and Liverpool broke on the counter. West Ham were able to get numbers back and regain their shape, and the Liverpool Dance with the ball carried on.

The hosts came close to taking the lead in the 70th minute when Henderson sent a beautiful diagonal pass that found Robertson breaking into the box. The angle was too tight for Robertson, but Fabianski couldn’t gather it up. With the West Ham keeper out of the goal, Liverpool looked for a pass to find anyone with a sight of goal. But Balbuena made a crucial touch to put it out for a Liverpool throw.

Sebastien Haller’s day came to an end in the 74th minute when he was replaced by Yarmolenko. The second leading scorer all time for Ukraine does play up top for his country, and there was talk (including from me) that Moyes would go with him up top today. Regardless of the outcome, Moyes made the correct call in my opinion and I hope Haller starts against Fulham.

In the 75th minute Bowen broke down the right and tried a cross into the box that Phillips cleared. That started a counter for Liverpool, with Mane sent in on Fabianski. The two collided, and the ball came loose to Jota who put the ball behind Fabianski. But VAR had another look, and whether it was due to a foul or offside, the goal was waved off. Maybe that was one instance where VAR did what it was supposed to do. Fix an obvious mistake. Because the second Friend looked at the monitor, he said no goal. Without VAR, the goal would have stood.

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The relief was short lived, unfortunately for the visitors. In the 84th minute, Shaqiri threaded a terrific pass through the legs of Balbuena to Jota on the left, and this time VAR could do nothing to save us.

Liverpool 2
West Ham 1

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In the final minutes plus stoppage time, Lanzini and Benrahma were inserted. The obvious problem was in order to do anything, you need the ball. It’s not like Liverpool were sharing it that much. West Ham did win a free kick about forty yards from goal, and Lanzini floated the ball into the box that Soucek got to first. But his header back across the face of goal found nobody in blue. In the final minute of added time West Ham won a corner, but Phillips cleared.

Final Score
Liverpool 2
West Ham 1

The Hammers had probably hoped they could take advantage of Phillips in the center of Liverpool’s defense. But the 23 year old certainly bossed Haller, and then had little to no problem with the other attempts to expose him. It would be easy, and probably more than a little accurate, to say the loss of Antonio in today’s setup was instrumental. His presence could have made the few breaks Wet Ham had more potent. But in the end, this was Liverpool at Anfield. And despite the loss, it was a solid effort defensively.

Many feared zero points going into November. Some thought five would be as good a return as we could have hoped for. To have eight is a solid building block to move into the next run of games. I bet we lose one we expect to win, too. That’s how we do things.

But the foundation is getting stronger.


Book Review

West Ham 1, Manchester City 1. A Perfectly Acceptable Result.

This is what our next level looks like. We go up against the juggernaut that is Manchester City and our collective attitude is one of muted excitement. Yeah, the most likely outcome is a loss. City have put 22 past us at our rental I was reminded during the pre-game. But it isn’t that sense of dread, as if watching is a task we have been assigned by our sadistic boss. Let’s have a go, enjoy a little football, and see what happens. It’s a level that I am comfortable with, mostly because I have accepted that our board are not equipped to bring us any further along than that. But as a replacement for a constant fear of relegation, which I suspect will still creep up on me from time to time, I’ll take it all day long.

When you don’t watch City every week, you kind of forget how much they press. The constant harassment on all parts of the pitch. They won a corner, forced any number of cheap giveaways, and made life generally difficult. And that was in the opening five minutes. But unlike previous years, we have pace to get up the pitch and ask a few questions. That looked to be the theme early on.

City turned up the pressure even more in the 13th minute, starting with a low shot from Gundogan that went wide. City won a couple of corners, and for reasons I don’t understand Pep prefers to have them taken short. The visitors dominated the ball and showed great movement off the ball. But West Ham held their line, and unlike last Sunday we weren’t behind after 16 minutes.

If you take your chances, you can win on any day. And when Coufal got the ball from Soucek after he intercepted a pass, the newest Czech addition sent a cross into the box for Antonio. It was a bit behind the newest West Ham talisman, so it would take a real moment of quality. That’s what we got. Antonio manhandled Dias like he was an annoying gnat and put a glorious overhead kick into the back of the net. There was a handball question on Soucek that VAR looked at, but we were spared the absurdity of that and the goal stood. The last time City won a match on the road after conceding the first goal was when they beat Brighton to clinch the title in 2018-2019.

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West Ham 1
Manchester City 0

City had a superb opportunity to draw level in the 25th minute when Cancelo put a low ball into the box that invited anyone in black to nudge it past Fabianski. But Mahrez met the ball at the far post and could only hit it into the arms of the Hammer’s keeper. Minutes later Garcia was given way too much space near the top of the West Ham eighteen yard box but his low shot went just wide.

As the first half wound down, West Ham threatened a bit with pressing play from Rice and Soucek. While their efforts were only able to produce a couple of blocked shots, it showed that despite City’s dominance on the ball West Ham still had it in them to threaten their guests.

Halftime
West Ham 1
Manchester City 0

The second half started badly for West Ham, but not because of anything Manchester City did. Antonio waved to the bench in the 49th minute while holding his right hamstring, the same one he tweaked at Spurs last week. He stayed on while replacements warmed up, but life got worse before they could come on when the camera showed De Bruyne warming up. Cancelo drove down the left as he did from the opening whistle to great effect and fed Foden in the box. The halftime substitute controlled the ball, spun, and beat Fabianski.

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West Ham 1
Manchester City 1

City kept pressing, and with Bowen and Yarmolenko leading the line in the absence of Antonio all West Ham could muster was a corner. Down the other end Walker tested Fabianski with a dipping low shot. Still, despite the visitors dominance West Ham looked competitive. Even comfortable. Rice won the ball at midfield and fed Yarmolenko near the top of the City box. He tried his favorite left footed curler, but it went over the bar.

Against a side like City, you don’t get too many opportunities to even think about attack. In the 71st minute, Yarmolenko had the ball near the top of City’s box with Haller waiting inside. A little cross off his left foot was in order. But he kept trying to create space, and eventually lost possession with Haller looking on in vain. The Ukrainian acknowledged his bad decision with a little wave. I’ll forgive him eventually.

City won a corner in the 78th minute when Balbuena blocked a cross from Cancelo. City went short, and eventually won a second when Haller got his first touch of the day inside his second favorite box and headed the ball behind the goal. A minute later Ogbonna fouled Sterling, giving City a free kick from a potentially lethal position. De Bruyne stepped up to take it, but it sailed into the arms of Fabianski.

West Ham won a somewhat fortunate free kick in the 82nd minute when Fornals was pushed over after looking to have lost control of the ball. Cresswell tried to whip it in but City defended. Masuaku got the ball back near midfield and after a very nervy moment on the ball regained control. But while trying to get into an attacking position Soucek was called for handball and the threat was over.

Minutes later Masuaku made a stellar defensive play when he got back and stopped Mahrez from a point blank shot. A moment later Fornals was sent in alone, every West Ham supporter around the globe leaned in, and the in form Spaniard looked to try and chip the keeper but the ball didn’t get the height needed. Seconds later Fabianski came out to meet Sterling in the box to make a crucial save on what looked to be a certain goal. After a fairly quiet second half the action ratcheted up to fast and furious, giving my typing fingers quite a workout.

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In the 89th minute Yarmolenko made what could have been a game losing mistake when he lost the ball and allowed City to break. Sterling ran into the West Ham area, but Ogbonna slowed him down just enough to let Yarmolenko get back and atone.

In the final seconds City won a corner, and the natural reaction in the past would have been to almost visualize the winner going in after some defensive error. Bad marking, a silly attempted clearance, whatever. City helped those fears by taking another short corner, which even a wine salesman can see is a strange decision with seconds left, and the whistle blew.

Final Score
West Ham 1
Manchester City 1

Despite City dominating possession, West Ham had every right to feel they earned that point. On a day where Masuaku….Masuaku for goodness sake….made some great defensive plays it’s more than reasonable to feel that way. Resolute defending that limited the opposition’s attempts, pace on the counter, and solid play in goal. That’s what we can and should expect.

I can live with this level.


David Hautzig's Match Report

Tottenham 3, West Ham 3. When A Point Is More Than A Point.

NOTE FROM IAIN: Congratulations to MoanerMe who topped the Spurs Predictor League with 77 points. You can see the table "HERE"https://new.westhamtillidie.com/matches/spurs-2020-10-18. The Predictor League for Manchester City on Saturday is now open HERE. Entries can be submitted until 10am on Saturday.*

(Quick shout out to my best mate Jon who suggested the title of this report)

It’s ironic that the player I would have been most curious about going into today’s match at Spuds was unavailable because of a ridiculous deadline on registrations. Why on earth should any club not be allowed to use players that are registered to the club because of a five hour discrepancy? My newest pet peeve. Anyway, the announcement that Haller didn’t even make the bench due to a knock brought into question the decision not to get another striker. Yes, with Haller there it could have been an issue possibly relegating him to third choice. But Antonio’s hamstrings are always on a knife’s edge…metaphorically that is…and thus a worry. Overall, with Spuds on a roll and The Hammers coming off two very solid results, it had the potential to be a very interesting 90 minutes. It was waaaaay more than that.

The second Son got on the end of the long pass from Kane, a combination that has been fairly lethal this season so far for the home side, it looked bad. He flew by Balbuena, and as soon as he cut inside the goal literally looked like it was empty on TV. Might as well have been with Son’s quality. One minute in, one goal down.

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Tottenham 1
West Ham 0

Considering the shock of such an early goal conceded, West Ham looked to answer. They won a free kick that Cresswell sent wide, and then a corner that Antonio tried to direct behind Lloris but sent it wide as well. An equalizer would have been huge considering what happened moments later. Kane got on the ball near the top of the eighteen yard box in the 8th minute, nutmegged Rice, and then with Fabianski standing still drove a low shot past Ogbonna and into the net.

Tottenham 2
West Ham 0

It got uglier in the 16th minute when Son returned the favor to Kane with a terrific cross to Kane in the box. Kane out-jumped Cresswell….not that hard…and headed it past Fabianski to seemingly end the match by the time it was quarter of an hour old. That yard work I need to do was looking a decent alternative to this pretty early on. Nigel told me I couldn’t go outside and play, unfortunately I thought, so I was stuck. Thanks, Nigel.

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Tottenham 3
West Ham 0

It came close to 4-0 in the 35th minute when Aurier slid a pass into the box for the onrushing Son, but Fabianski slid out to meet the ball before the salt could be rubbed into the wound. Seconds later West Ham won another corner but couldn’t put a ball on target. Yet to the visitors credit, they did keep moving the ball forward and didn’t really look like a side that was being totally dominated. Even though they were where it counted because they have guys named Kane and Son and we don’t.

The final seconds of first half added time saw a scramble inside the Tottenham box, and it was the attacking Kane making a defensive stop against the defender Coufal to end the half.

Halftime
Tottenham 3
West Ham 0

Like some of the stretches in the opening half, West Ham looked to attack at the start of the second. They moved the ball around the Spurs end, and at times looked like they spent too much time on the ball instead of looking for a shot. Masuaku tried a volley that went high over the bar, and then Antonio crossed for Fornals but the Spaniard couldn’t put his header on target. From a quality of play perspective, again, West Ham didn’t look awful.

The Hammers won a corner in the 53rd minute when Masuaku and Cresswell combined on the left. The delivery found nothing in particular, but despite Spurs best efforts to clear West Ham drove it back and won another corner. Kane cleared the set piece, but Bowen brought it back and tried to find Soucek in the box but his cross was too high. In the first ten minutes of the second half, West Ham had five attempts to Spurs one, so if “how we looked” was something to consider, it was better than the scoreline dictated.

Spurs won their first corner of the day in the 62nd minute when Kane let go with a 30 yard shot that Fabianski had to dive low to his right to push around the post. West Ham dealt with the set piece, but Spurs won a second corner when Balbuena had to direct a Son cross over the bar. But the visitors back line did their job, something they had done well since the 17th minute.

The 70th minute saw another West Ham corner, and all it led to was another West Ham corner. A minute later Ogbonna was booked for a challenge on Aurier, giving Spurs a free kick 35 yards from goal. It also gave Spurs the opportunity to insert their newest loan signing, a guy named Bale, to take the free kick. Thankfully karma didn’t allow anything highly annoying to happen and the delivery bounced harmlessly to Fabianski.

Kane came an inch away from a hat trick in the 79th minute when Son cut to his right after a run near the West Ham eighteen yard box and rolled a pass to Kane, who one timed his shot off the post. Fabianski didn’t even bother to move.

Then, it started.

Three minutes after Kane almost put the dagger in us, Cresswell lined up to take a free kick and whipped in a very good ball that Balbuena rose high to meet and put it behind Lloris.

Tottenham 3
West Ham 1

Two minutes later, the entire narrative of the day changed when Coufal drove towards the box and sent a cross that Sanchez for some reason decided to try to head clear from close range. He headed it alright. Past Lloris and into the net.

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Tottenham 3
West Ham 2

Lanzini won a free kick in the 89th minute, and after taking it short Cresswell found Bowen in the box but his quick attempt was blocked. In the second minute of added time none other than Bale went in alone on Fabianski, but instead of finishing it off he sent his shot wide.

West Ham kept pressing for an unlikely equalizer deep into stoppage time, with Cresswell taking a free kick on the left. His delivery was cleared, but as West Ham had done all day they kept going. They kept pressing. When Spurs couldn’t clear, Lanzini showed that he still has something deep in his locker when he sent a 35 yard blast off the outside of his right foot and into the top corner past a stunned Lloris.

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Final Score
Tottenham 3
West Ham 3

At the final whistle, I had expected to write about my frustration on the day. We were the better side in the second half even before we scored, and roughly level with them from the 20th minute on. Instead, I thought back to another late equalizer at Spurs from 15 years or so ago when Anton Ferdinand headed home a corner to give West Ham a 1-1 draw. Only this one was even better.

To think.

The sight of a middle aged Scot dancing would be the highlight of my week.


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