David Hautzig's Match Report

Burnley 3, West Ham 0. Welcome To Our Current Crisis.

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I wish I could be more level headed about us. As Nigel has said to me more times than I can remember, it’s in our DNA. We have an uncanny ability to take better players and managers and instead of raising the whole club to their level, we somehow drag them down to ours. When a work issue came up for me yesterday, causing me to interrupt my Saturday with the family to become a wine delivery guy (at least it’s for my mate and fellow Hammer Alex, aka Poor Bastard), I secretly wished the warehouse people could only meet me in the morning. That would have given me a reason to just skip today altogether. Instead 1pm was offered, so that was that. Without a win in our last 6, another 90 minutes of angst was staring me in the face. And that angst did not even blink.

One of the many observations, or criticisms if you will, of our current system is the way Haller has been isolated up top. Long balls galore for him to win. But that isn’t his game. In the eighth minute Snodgrass did find the Frenchman with a decent pass but Haller couldn’t find his feet and the threat was over.

A minute later the long day I feared looked to have begun. Burnley won their second corner in quick succession when Roberto inexplicably decided to punch the ball away when he should have just caught it. Burnley won that corner, although replays show it should have been a goal kick. The set piece from McNeil flew over Rice, Tarkowski headed it to Barnes right in front of the goal, and that was that. With goalkeeping and defending like that, screaming about the corner that should not have been is slightly pointless.

Burnley 1
West Ham 0

The bulk of the action remained in the West Ham half, and if Cresswell hadn’t gotten his head on another McNeill delivery Barnes might very well have made it 2-0. An injury to Noble meant Yarmolenko was inserted, but everyone started to look the same to me in those purple kits. Burnley moved the ball around, made crunching tackles, and we looked powerless to do anything about it.

There was a moment in the 27th minute that kind of summed us up. Anderson ran with the ball on the left. He had space. But he tried to roll a low pass to Haller in the box, and just like that any semblance of an attack just vanished. Minutes later a burst of speed from Fredericks on the right forced Mee to put the ball out for a West Ham corner. That in and of itself was the only thing worth mentioning because Burnley cleared the ball easily.

Yarmolenko won another corner in the 34th minute. OK. Let’s move on.

I admit I had no idea who Dwight McNeill was before today. Now I will see him in my many West Ham nightmares. His delivery into the box over a sea of West Ham defenders that Wood headed past Roberto should have made it 2-0. But VAR ruled an armpit was ahead of the pass and the goal was disallowed. Regardless, the cross was world class.

It didn’t matter in the end because Balbuena made a shocking error in the 44th minute when he completely misplayed a ball from Roberto and allowed McNeill to make a much easier pass to Wood in the box and it was officially a second goal.

Halftime
Burnley 2
West Ham 0

The second half started brighter for West Ham in relative terms. We didn’t concede a third goal from the opening kick, Yarmolenko and Haller took actual shots on goal, and we passed the ball from player to player without looking ridiculous. My stream did start to act wonky, coming in and out, and time would tell if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

Turned out it was a good thing. My phone app told me that Burnley had scored again, and that Roberto was at fault. When the stream eventually caught up with reality, I saw a howler worthy of a million YouTube hits. So for the second time in two weeks, I quit before the final whistle.

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No more details, although Nigel told me Roberto made some wonderfully ironic classy saves near the end.

Final Score
Burnley 3
West Ham 0

So. Here we are again. In full blown crisis mode, a relegation battle at our doorstep. With an international break next weekend, dollars to donuts I can guarantee that stories will emerge about any number of people. Pellegrini, Husillos, Sullivan, you name it. And if anyone acts surprised, I have a bridge to sell you. That’s how our club has behaved ever since the current regime took over. That does not mean I’m laying the current meltdown at their doorstep. I truly don’t know where the majority of the blame lies.

I just know the supporters bear the brunt of the pain.

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Book Review

West Ham 2, Newcastle 3. Far Worse Than Score Suggests.

Against my better judgment, I have found something that David Gold and I agree on.

Daylight Savings Time.

Actually, I don’t have as strong an opinion on it as our…ahem…esteemed co-owner. I was just very annoyed this morning because I was not aware Boris and friends changed the clocks last week. Which meant kickoff here was 11am, not 10am. Which meant I didn’t have to rush to the garbage dump first thing to unload debris from the addition we are putting on the house. Which meant I didn’t have to kick my son out of the basement and off the phone with his mate while they battled on some video game. For all of Newcastle’s problems in recent times, including no matches so far this season with more than one goal, we have only managed to win one of our last 25 matches against them. Today was no better.

Much has been said, all negative, about West Ham’s lack of pace. That issue was evident in the opening minutes of the match. There wasn’t a particular moment that put a spotlight on that. But West Ham looked slow and measured, as if they were waiting for the opposition to allow them to do what they imagined they could do if given the time and space. Newcastle, on the other hand, looked adventurous and probing. Considering their attacking problems so far this season, it wasn’t a hopeful atmosphere.

West Ham picked up the pace a little and won a few corners for their efforts. Both of them were decent deliveries by Snodgrass, and both ended with fairly weak efforts from Balbuena. Minutes later, Almiron won a free kick after Diop breathed on him just outside the West Ham penalty area. Shelvey sent the free kick to the far post where Joelinton met it with his head. He sent it back across the box and Clark said thank you very much as he headed it past Roberto.

West Ham 0
Newcastle 1

The match turned shambolic in the 22nd minute, and all the fears when Fabianski went down came to fruition. Newcastle won another corner and took it short. The ball was lobbed into the area and Roberto came out to….actually I have no idea what he came out to do. He did nothing but leave the entire goal wide open for Fernandez, and for the first time this season Newcastle had a second goal in a game.

West Ham 0
Newcastle 2

It should have been 0-3 a minute later when Saint-Maximin was sent in alone on goal but he hit Roberto’s foot when the whole goal was beckoning. The game should have been effectively over. But based on the pathetic play from the home side it seemed to be anyway.

Newcastle had yet another must score opportunity when a ball played over the top created a foot race between Saint-Maximin and Zabaleta. Despite being yards behind, the Frenchman easily beat the Argentine to the ball but he couldn’t finish the job. The ball bounced to Almiron in the box, but Roberto ran out and blocked the ball with his chest. Seconds later Shelvey hit the bar with a long effort. Defensively it was among the worst performances I’d seen in ages. The booing could be heard from London to Houston. And everywhere in between.

West Ham had their first effort on goal in the 41st minute when Haller was able to put a scissor kick on goal after a cross from Anderson. I wondered what Haller might be thinking at that moment about his decision over the summer.

West Ham won a corner in the final moments of the opening half and came close to getting a goal back when the Snodgrass-Balbuena combination tried again, only this time Balbuena put his effort on target. Dubravka got his right hand on it and palmed it over the bar. Then it was Newcastle on the attack, and once again it was Saint-Maximin. His low shot was palmed around the post by Roberto.

Halftime
West Ham 0
Newcastle 2 (should have been 5)

As the second half began, I was on the phone with my best mate Jon. We talked a little bit about the disaster we had watched unfold. But mostly we talked kids, work, things like that. When Shelvey made it 0-3, I turned it off. The recent rain storms we have had knocked so many leaves down I saw no reason to wait another minute to grab the rake. Balbuena scored as I posted this, and then Snodgrass in added time. But so what? If a miracle happened, OK. I would have missed it. But I knew it wouldn’t. So for the first time in my seven years doing this, I wrote my report before the match was over.

No pictures, either. I couldn’t take it any more, and I certainly didn’t want to relive anything by finding images of the slaughter.

Final Score
West Ham 2
Newcastle 3

I don’t know where we go from here.


David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 1, Sheffield United 1. Worrying Point.

Let me get this out of the way. While I know West Ham told enough Porky’s during the Tevez saga to open a BBQ place, for the life of me I’ve NEVER understood why it mattered. Meaning, the issue of third party ownership. To my way of thinking, a league should have zero input on the contracts between a player and the club. I remember trying to explain it to my friends over here who only followed North American sports, and they looked utterly dumbfounded how this was a problem. So Saints fans, if for some reason you’re reading this, if you even dream of arguing this point with me I suggest you wake up.

A few weeks ago, after the Palace annoyance, I was chatting via text with my friend Rob. He is part of GraftWine, my customer in the UK. More importantly, he is a Sheffield United supporter. He said the stats at that time said we were not a top half club. In fact, certain numbers had us in the bottom half by some margin. I argued our merits, claiming the draw at Bournemouth for example would have been a loss other years.

“So I had sorted the table by xPTS. A measure of how many points you should expect to get in a game giving the xG. Your boys were 5th bottom, but that looks even worse now, following a poor performance today. It’s your expected goals against which is so poor. Only Norwich with a worse figure and that includes Watford’s 8-0 loss to Man City. I thought your boys were solid, but these stats say otherwise”

Based on today’s 90 minutes, I would tend to agree with Rob’s stats.

If Manuel Pellegrini wanted to tell his squad he was more than a little angry over recent performances, the starting eleven was a good start. No Lanzini, no Fredericks, no Ogbonna. And in the opening moments, Snodgrass looked a decent choice when he won a couple of corners and sent a decent ball in for Yarmolenko. But Noble gave the ball away, as did Anderson, so maybe three changes wasn’t enough.

West Ham looked decent in the opening ten minutes, but for all of their possession the home side created no chances. More worrying was the lack of space in the midfield and our inability to move the ball through it effectively. Both sides gave the impression they wanted a flowing game of football, but in the driving rain the game was yet to begin, so to speak.

West Ham won a fortuitous corner in the 21st minute after another Noble giveaway, but he won the ball back with a tough tackle. Anderson and Yarmolenko got in each other’s way, but somehow got the set piece. Sheffield United cleared, but The Hammers came back down and won another corner when Yarmolenko challenged the visitors back four. Moments later Anderson tried a strike from twenty yards out, and if it had gone in it would have been a wonder strike. Instead it sailed over the bar. A few minutes later Yarmolenko won yet another corner, but the 22 year old Henderson commanded his area well with a punch worthy of Ernie Shavers.

Sheffield won their first corner in the 28th minute after Noble was careless with the ball, and it required a very fine save from Roberto. The delivery went to Basham, who headed it to McGoldrick right in front of goal. He should have buried it, but Roberto got down with his right hand and made the save. Anderson eventually got the ball out of danger, but the visitors may look back at that chance with regret.

With ten minutes left in the half, the stats said we had 71% of the ball.

OK. If they said so.

In the 41st minute, Sheffield had another decent chance after Balbuena apparently thought Wilder had resigned his position as Blades manager and joined West Ham. After the resulting throw, the ball was rolled to Lundstram breaking in the box but his low shot went wide. Seconds later Lundstram swung a pass into the box towards Robinson. Roberto literally got the tip of one finger on the ball, which changed the trajectory just enough to send Robinson’s header wide.

Despite the possession advantage, one would have to say it was Sheffield United that deserved to go into the break with the lead. But when a long ball went off the head of Basham to Yarmolenko, the cagey Ukrainian (dangerous words over here at the moment I must add) one timed it to Snodgrass in the middle. The veteran Scot took full advantage of the opportunity and slid the shot past Henderson.

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Halftime
West Ham 1
Sheffield United 0

In the opening minutes of the second half, Sheffield continued to get behind the West Ham fullbacks but good defending by Zabaleta came to the rescue. Then Roberto became the helper when he got hold of a cross from McGoldrick before it could reach its target. But it was the visitors that looked for the equalizer more than West Ham looked for a second.

West Ham broke well on the counter in the 52nd minute when Anderson got on the end of a long pass and broke in on the Sheffield United penalty area. But he waited a bit too long to pass to Haller, and by the time the ball found the West Ham striker the defense had re-organized. Haller passed to Yarmolenko in the box, but Egan put his body on the line and made the block. Down at the other end, Fleck had an open look at the West Ham goal but his shot was partially blocked by Roberto and Cresswell’s…..uhhhh…..yeah.

West Ham should have scored a second in the 57th minute when Anderson was sent in behind the Sheffield defense by Yarmolenko and had nobody to beat but Henderson. Yet Anderson could not break his goal drought and sent his shot right into the visiting keeper.

Sheffield United wasted another chance in the 62nd minute when McGoldrick slid a pass to Baldock on the right side of the West Ham eighteen yard box. He had space. He had time. But he hadn’t scored a goal in over a year, and he gave a hint as to why that might be when he sliced his shot wide.

The equalizer that Sheffield deserved finally came in the 69th minute. The play started on the right as it had all day, with a cross from Baldock. Stevens got on the end of it, and headed it to Mousset on the left. Roberto did not position himself well, was very slow to react, and he paid the price when the bouncing shot bounced by him and into the net.

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West Ham 1
Sheffield United 1

West Ham came back down and came close to regaining the lead in the 73rd when Yarmolenko sent a beautifully weighted cross to Cresswell in the box. But when a one timer would have been the correct decision, Cresswell took a second touch and Henderson had the time needed to get in front of the shot. In the 80th minute West Ham had another chance when Fornals sent a low cross from the right. Yarmolenko couldn’t quite reach it, but the ball rolled through the goalmouth where Snodgrass raced to meet it but couldn’t quite reach the finish line.

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Snodgrass made his final contribution to the match in the 86th minute when he won a corner, but was replaced by Ajeti before the set piece was taken. Sheffield took care of business, and the final minutes rolled on.

In the final minute of added time, the Blades won a couple of corners. On the second, they made a strange decision when they kept the ball and tried to run time off the clock. With their good attacking play on the day, one had to wonder why they didn’t go for goal.

In the final moments, Haller won a free kick from Steven 35 yards out. The delivery ended up with Fornals, who took a bit too much time and then looked for a handball gift that wasn’t to be.

Final Score
West Ham 1
Sheffield United 1

I don’t want to sound too many alarm bells….OK, maybe I do….but a point at home against a newly promoted team that had more significant chances than us is a problem. Our seemingly good start was clearly not that good. And to think there will be January help is pure folly. The truth is that despite the money spent, we are in all likelihood looking at a typical season with more disappointments than joy.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

Everton 2, West Ham 0. From Bad To Very, Very Bad.

I came close to staying in bed this morning. Whenever I woke up, I woke up. But at 7:06am my time, my eyes opened. Without a kickoff in twenty-four minutes, I probably could have snoozed a bit more. But I checked my phone, saw the lineups, and that was that. Brain was on, and it was time for coffee. Yarmolenko on the bench made sense considering his work for Ukraine a few days ago, and a Cresswell injury was inevitable. But that’s the thing about a loss like the one against Palace. It colored everything I saw and made it a problem. Even with Everton in the bottom three on the back of four straight losses, it was hard to feel confident. The West Ham Way rarely fails to deliver.

West Ham had an early chance to turn anxiety into excitement when Anderson was brought down by Richarlison just outside the Everton eighteen yard box. Lanzini tried to curl the free kick around the Everton wall, but it went wide. Minutes later Everton had their first chance when Diop was forced to put the ball out for a corner, but the Hammers back line did their job. Moments later Ogbonna deflected an effort from Walcott out for another corner, and then Diop sent the set piece behind the net for yet another. That set piece did require Roberto, but if Davies had done his job properly it would have a Toffee goal.

To put it mildly, it was all Everton to start.

The Everton pressure was finally given its just reward in the 17th minute, but the goal itself was one West Ham will likely think should not have happened. Walcott cut to his left at the top of the box and rolled a pass to Bernard in the box. He cut back, then burst forward again to the near post. Roberto looked like he had it covered, so when the ball rolled under his left hand and into the net it was a time to roll your eyes and wonder what kind of day this was going to be.

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Everton 1
West Ham 0

West Ham continued their sluggish, disappointing play and it almost led to another Everton goal. Iwobi sent Richarlison in on goal, and without a lot to aim for he still hit the post. Seconds later, Iwobi put a low shot on goal that Roberto was able to handle without incident. Moments later, Walcott decided to test our backup keeper with another long range shot and Roberto saved that as well. But with the attempts at 8-1 twenty minutes in, and Everton pressuring West Ham all over the pitch, there was very little reason for the visitors to feel hopeful. I know I didn’t.

The Hammers looked a little more effective in the final minutes of the first half, but the word “little” has to be emphasized. They had control in and around the Everton half of the pitch. But they had zero touches inside the penalty area. The only thing about the first half that was surprising was that it was only a one goal advantage.

Halftime
Everton 1
West Ham 0

While I was pleased to see Yarmolenko on to begin the second half, I was more than a little shocked to see Anderson as the one taken off. Yes, he was poor. But he also CAN be amazing at a moments notice. Maybe he thought it was the time to give Fornals a chance. Maybe he thought it was time to send Anderson a message. Or maybe he’s just the manager.

Fornals should have rewarded his manager’s faith in him five minutes into the second half when Yarmolenko worked the ball down the right before squaring it to the young Spaniard alone in the box. Maybe the moment got the better of him? Maybe he simply missed. The ball went off his shin and wide of the net.

Everton had a free kick in the 60th minute after Diop fouled Walcott just outside the West Ham eighteen yard box. Digne stepped up to take it but his effort went wide. Minutes later Everton won a corner. The delivery found Mina in the box, but his header bounced off the pitch and into the waiting arms of Roberto. A few minutes later Walcott slammed a long range effort off the bar. Despite a slightly better looking West Ham in the second half, Everton looked far more likely to double their lead than West Ham looked to get back into the game.

West Ham won a free kick in the 67th minute, and the fact that such an event was noteworthy was telling. The attempt from Yarmolenko flew directly into Pickford’s arms. A minute later, Everton won a free kick of their own. The home side’s dominance made that far less noteworthy. Everton were flagged for offside, so West Ham were still alive.

For the record. Noble had his worst game in ages. Just terrible.

Pellegrini made his final substitution with twenty minutes left, giving Ajeti his league debut. Moments later, Lanzini won a free kick just outside the Everton penalty area. Could this be the moment?

Yeah. Right. Shame on me for even considering it.

Everton should have put the match to bed in the 77th minute when Iwobi went in on goal all alone. As the song goes, “to the left, to the right” blah blah blah, either choice would have been game, set and match. Iwobi poked it right into the chest of Roberto and the lead remained a single goal.

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West Ham won their first corner of the whole match in the 83rd minute, and they almost scored the needed equalizer. Haller got his head to the delivery, and the ball landed at the feet of Ogbonna right in front of goal. Pickford made himself large and got in front of the ball for his only real save of the day.

In the 89th minute Haller tried to play the role of playmaker when he ran the ball down the left side and slid a pass to Rice in the box. But good defending by Mina denied the young star even a shot.

Then in added time, Sigurdsson put a curling shot from the top of the area past Roberto.

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Final Score
Everton 2
West Ham 0

“West Ham United: making bang average, out of form opponents look like world beaters since 1895.”

That was a Tweet from my friend Dan Silver. As always, he found a way to put a humorous twist on our collective angst. Today was the kind of day that made watching West Ham a chore. The game moved through time, and I could not wait for it to end. I had a lot of stuff to do, and the only saving grace was that it was the early game so the day was ruined to a smaller degree. I mean, unloading household debris from some building we are doing at home at the garbage dump. Mulching the leaves on the lawn. Laundry. Maybe some cooking. I haven’t made my Bolognese sauce in a bit. It’s quite good I must say. All of that felt like something I looked forward to after the nonsense on my TV was over. Pathetic is not too strong a word for our overall play today.

I’m done.


David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 1, Crystal Palace 2. Points, And Momentum, Lost.

Did you know I had magic powers? It’s true. Seriously. The Great Escape with Tevez and friends? All me. The minute I stopped watching us play, choosing to be updated by friends who threatened bodily harm if I even thought of tuning in, we started on that run of winning seven of our last nine. The February under VoldeSam that pulled us up from the drop zone to 10th? Me again. Watching those four matches on an IPad propped up on my dresser while I stood on the opposite side of the bed was all we needed. But such power and responsibility has its downside. Last week I wrote that Roberto should be demoted to third behind Martin after Oxford. I do feel a bit of shame for having put that out in the universe only for a certain thigh muscle to remind me such powers can be dangerous. In the end, Roberto wasn’t the reason for our downfall this evening.

A quick note about age. Manuel Pellegrini is 66. Roy Hodgson is 72. They are the two oldest managers in the Premier League. The Eagles have collected the fourth highest point total in 2019. West Ham have their best start in four years, but a win would give the Hammers their best start in 20 years. Maybe the next time we collectively wonder if the game has passed by our gaffer, we should take a deep breath.

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The opening ten minutes were oddly worrying. West Ham had more possession, but offered absolutely no threat near the Crystal Palace eighteen yard box. The visitors didn’t see the ball that much, but their quick counters required Rice to clear the ball right in front of Roberto as well as a long ball out by Ogbonna. Then Ayew got the ball behind the West Ham defense and Yarmolenko did a poor job of clearing. “Palace are looking dangerous” was the comment from the NBC presenter Arlo White. Not exactly the trends we wanted to see at the start of a rather important match.

Diop is either a defensive monster as Jose Mourinho called him last season, or a very inexperienced kid as we have seen on quite a few occasions. In the 22nd minute we saw the latter when a very lazy attempt to get the ball past Ayew led to a Palace free kick. West Ham cleared, but the ball came right back into the West Ham area where Zaha won a corner. A goalmouth scramble could have ended badly for the hosts but Cahill didn’t get good contact and Ogbonna skied the ball away.

West Ham should have taken the lead in the 29th minute when Noble found Yarmolenko after a good run down the right. The winger crossed the ball right to Haller, but with the whole goal in front of him the record signing put the ball directly into the chest of Guaita from point blank range. A few minutes later Fredericks crossed the ball to Anderson but the Brazilian shanked his shot. Seconds after that Fredericks teed up Anderson again but Guaita went down to his right to stop Anderson’s header. At least West Ham looked to have woken up a bit.

Crystal Palace had their moment to look back and rue in the 36th minute when Zaha somehow got the ball around Cresswell just to the left of the West Ham goal. He passed to Schlupp right in front of the West Ham goal, but the shot looped upwards, which gave Fredericks time to get behind Roberto and clear the ball off the line. If anything, it evened out the Haller sitter.

In the 41st minute, when James McCarthy stepped in between Lanzini and Anderson to give himself space for a shot, the reality that Fabianski wasn’t in between the pipes filled me with dread. At first glance, the diving save by Roberto looked terrific. On replay it looked more theatrical. At the end of the day, he made the save. Even if he did drop a shot seconds later, only to be rescued by Diop. Yeah, I’m still very skeptical.

In added time, Yarmolenko sent a sublime pass off the outside of his foot across the box the Anderson, who one touched it to Lanzini at the top of the box. He tried to find space in between the many Palace defenders but in the end the shot went wide.

Halftime
West Ham 0
Crystal Palace 0

The first moment of interest in the second half come five minutes in, when Ward looked to be auditioning for a spot in the NFL game in North London tomorrow when he dragged Anderson down. A good delivery on the set piece to Haller was headed back into the box to Ogbonna. The center back tried to find his feet but his shot went high over the bar.

West Ham kept the pressure on, and it finally paid off. Starting with the kind of short passing one would expect from the big guns in Spain and Italy, it finally broke to Anderson on the left. Yarmolenko did well to feed Fredericks on the right, who moved forward with his head up and his eyes scanning. A quick roll into the box was directed into the net by Haller. A lovely goal from the first pass to the final moment.

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West Ham 1
Crystal Palace 0

Minutes later, West Ham gave all the good work back when Kouyate got the ball inside the West Ham box. He tried to put the ball over Rice, and in a very rare moment he made a significant error when he raised his arm well over his head and blocked the ball. Clear handball. Van Aanholt put it past Roberto, as expected.

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West Ham 1
Crystal Palace 1

West Ham kept turning to Anderson on the left to make things happen, and in the 72nd minute he won a corner off of Ward. Guaita did well to get in between the many bodies in the box to punch the ball away, and Palace were out of danger.

I rarely if ever question the substitutions of Mr. Charming, but when Wilshere came on for Yarmolenko I couldn’t see it. By most metrics, Yarmolenko has been our best player the past few matches. He makes things happen. Would the final 12 minutes prove him right?

In the 85th minute, Wilshere was fed into the area by a lovely rolling pass from Anderson. A good touch to his right and he tried to reach Haller at the top of the box. He did, but Van Aanholt made a great interception. A few moments later, VAR did its dirty work against us when Ayew put the ball into the back of the net after a fine ball in from Townsend. The flag went up, but the replay showed the flag was wrong.

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West Ham 1
Crystal Palace 2

The Hammers tried to push forward in the six minutes of added time, but there was no final product. Anderson tried to feed Haller in the box a few times, and Zabaleta was fouled outside the box in the 94th minute. The delivery went to the far post and was played back to Diop, but he couldn’t get any power on his header and Guaita he no problem with it.

Final Score

West Ham 1
Crystal Palace 2

A match at home against a London rival vying for the heights of the EPL table. That kind of match, as opposed to similar matches against similar opponents vying to stay in the damned league, is what we have wanted for so many years. Most pundits put us down for a win. Those same pundits probably haven’t even noticed how well Palace has done under Hodgson. Today adds a lot of perspective as to how hard, how very hard, it is to become a top football club in this league.


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