Post Match Thoughts- Murray brace sinks West Ham as Brighton boss Chris Hughton gets win in 100th game

On paper, this was a perfectly winnable game for West Ham. They were at home against a newly promoted side in Brighton, who had not won away in four attempts this season, and hadn’t won away in the top flight since 1983. The Seagulls had also scored just once in four league games on the road going into this clash, and the scorer of that goal, Solly March, was benched by Brighton manager Chris Hughton in favour of club record signing Jose Izquierdo. Brighton’s last visit to West Ham, a good five years ago, saw the visitors on the receiving end of a 6-0 scoreline.

West Ham had also never lost a Premier League game at home on a Friday, having beaten Coventry and Spurs in their two previous Friday clashes.

However by the end of the evening, that record had been broken, and Brighton had taken their away goals tally from 1 to 4, courtesy of a brace from veteran striker Glenn Murray, whose last visit to West Ham, then in Crystal Palace colours, also saw him score twice.

West Ham Lineup vs Brighton 2017

Bilic fielded arguably his strongest lineup with Masuaku replacing Cresswell and Obiang in for the suspended Carroll as the Hammers lined up in a 4-2-3-1. Hughton also made two changes- in addition to the Izquierdo one mentioned above, he also opted for Bong at left back ahead of Suttner.

Brighton Lineup West Ham

Brighton silenced the 57,000 strong London Stadium by going ahead in the 10th minute. Pedro Obiang fouled Lewis Dunk and the resulting free kick, floated in by Pascal Gross, was headed in by Glenn Murray. Some very non-committal defending let the Hammers down, with Antonio and Obiang in particular guilty, as Murray was given plenty of time and space in the 18 yard to head one into the bottom corner.

Glenn Murray West Ham

Antonio made his usual efforts down the right flank and for a ten minute period after he was fouled by Izquierdo, West Ham ramped up the pressure, but it all came to naught as Dunk and Shane Duffy proved to be rocks in defence, ready to put their body on the line.

Deep into first half stoppage time, Brighton struck another decisive blow. A swift counter attack resulted in Hart parrying away Murray’s attempt. Winston Reid hacked the ball downfield, but Bruno and Davy Propper combined to send the ball to Izquierdo and the Colombian evaded Obiang’s challenge before letting one fly into the top corner, and less than 30 seconds after Hart’s original save, the Hammers were down 2-0.

Izquierdo

It was a disappointing end to a half West Ham had otherwise dominated, with nearly 2/3rds of possession and nearly twice as many passes as Brighton. They had nine attempts in comparison to Brighton’s three, but only one of those nine was on target.

Bilic had to shake things up and opted to bring on Andre Ayew on for Cheikhou Kouyate. However Brighton soaked up all the pressure, with West Ham’s strategy of pumping crosses into the box not really yielding fruit. Marko Arnautovic had another poor outing- the Austrian was expected to cause Brighton’s 37 year old Bruno all kinds of problems, but on the evidence of this performance, some would say that even Robert Snodgrass did more in a WHUFC jersey than Arnautovic, and that is a pretty damning indictment.

The third goal was a bit like the second. Lanzini lost possession in midfield and Anthony Knockaert skipped past both him and Winston Reid before setting up Murray, whose attempt was blocked by Hart. However from the resulting throw in, Bruno’s corner fell to Murray, and Zabaleta’s foul lead to Martin Atkinson awarding a penalty, which Murray converted to make it 3-0.

West Ham were pretty much flat for the rest of the game, and Bilic was left stroking his chin on the sidelines. Should Leicester and Stoke both win their weekend games, the Hammers could be back in the bottom three on Monday.

West Ham 17th

This was a poor performance- make no bones of it, and one that will perhaps bring Bilic closer to the sack. Losing 3-0 away at Newcastle was one, and losing 3-0 at home to another promoted side who had scored only one away goal all season, is another. Also a bit sad that a 34 year old veteran in Zabaleta, who also conceded a penalty, was perhaps West Ham’s best player on the night.

A fantastic result for Brighton- a great gift to their gaffer on his 100th Premier League game in charge.

West Ham 0-3 Brighton (Murray 10, 75 pen, Izquierdo 45+2′)

West Ham: Hart, Masuaku, Fonte, Reid, Zabaleta, Obiang, Kouyate (Ayew), Arnautovic (E.Fernandes), Lanzini, Antonio, Hernandez

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