West Ham v Crystal Palace 2018 Report- Injury hit Hammers pick up point against mid table rivals

A late first half penalty from Mark Noble, his 50th goal in West Ham colours, saw the home side draw against Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace in their midweek clash at the London Stadium. It also marked the first time in over four decades (1974 to be precise) that the Hammers have gone unbeaten in their first five top flight games of the calendar year.

With Manuel Lanzini, Marko Arnautovic, Andy Carroll and Pedro Obiang injured, and Arthur Masuaku beginning the first of a six game ban for spitting at Nick Powell, West Ham boss David Moyes had to dig deep to field a match day squad. Fortunately for him, his task was made easier by Noble, Declan Rice and Cheikhou Kouyate shaking off their pre-game knocks in time for this fixture. Michail Antonio, whose mistake had cost West Ham dear in the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park earlier in the season, didn’t feature in the squad- Moyes later revealed that he had been left out for disciplinary reasons (coming late to team meetings)

With Masuaku suspended, Aaron Cresswell was moved from his position in defence to left wingback. In came Declan Rice as part of a back three with Angelo Ogbonna and James Collins. Joao Mario was handed a home debut, albeit in a slightly advanced role than he would probably have wanted, with the Portuguese international and Kouyate playing just behind Javier Hernandez. Pablo Zabaleta was chosen to partner Noble in midfield, meaning a first league start of the Premier League season for young Sam Byram at right back

West Ham starting lineup vs Crystal Palace 2018

Well rested Palace (they didn’t feature in the FA Cup over the weekend), by comparison, made just one change, with Andros Townsend taking Yohan Cabaye’s place.

Crystal Palace starting XI v West Ham 2018

The first chance of the game went in the third minute to Joao Mario. Sam Byram, looking dangerous on the counter, was hacked down by Palace skipper Luka Milivojevic (who got a booking for his challenge), but Cheikhou Kouyate carried the move forward and found Hernandez, who in turn got the ball away to Mario, but the Portuguese star’s effort was off target.

Seven minutes later, Hernandez was again in the thick of action, but would’ve been kicking himself for his tardiness. Byram’s cross caused all kinds of confusion in the Palace box, and the ball presented itself in front of Hernandez, but the Mexican, despite having a three yard head start over James Tomkins, was unable to get to the ball first. It’s the kind of opportunity you’d expect him to finish, given his reputation as a goal poacher.

Milivojevic was then involved in a collision with Kouyate, leading to the latter being heavily bandaged around his head. It was Palace who drew first blood though. Aaron Cresswell ventured too far up the pitch when Adrian kicked it down the field. McArthur’s pass found Townsend, who was given time and space to run at the back three, and his cross was expertly met by Christian Benteke, who nodded in his second league goal of the season.

Benteke Header v West Ham

West Ham had a chance to equalise just minutes later, but Ogbonna, who was given a free header from a corner, nodded his attempt over.

Another injury enforced delay occurred when Bakary Sako appeared to injure himself while attempting to go for the ball against Pablo Zabaleta. That saw the Eagles bring in Cabaye into midfield as a replacement.

West Ham, who had scored only three first half goals in 14 league home games at the London Stadium, did manage to find an equaliser late in the first half. Some good work from Joao Mario saw him set up Hernandez, who was brought to the ground by ex Hammer James Tomkins’ trailing leg. Neil Swarbrick pointed to the spot, and Noble had no problems sending Hennessey the wrong way.

The second half produced only one real notable chance, with Hernandez’s header stopped by Hennessey. A yard to either side of the Welshman would’ve probably put the Hammers ahead, but the Mexican headed straight at the Palace stopper.

Kouyate, looking like a warrior with his bandaged look, enjoyed his best game in a Hammers shirt in a long, long time and played 85 minutes before being replaced by Reece Oxford.

A draw was probably a fair result at the end of the day, although West Ham would’ve probably taken all three had they had the likes of Arnautovic and Lanzini available for selection.

West Ham 1 (Mark Noble pen 43′) drew with Crystal Palace 1 (Christian Benteke 24′)

West Ham United starting lineup v Crystal Palace January 30 2018:- Adrian, Collins, Ogbonna, Rice, Byram, Cresswell, Zabaleta, Noble, Kouyate, Joao Mario, Hernandez

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