Two great chances for Fornals, Haller unimpressive & more- Talking Points from Liverpool 2-1 West Ham

West Ham very nearly extended their unbeaten league to five games but were undone by a late goal from substitute Diogo Jota as defending champions Liverpool won a hard fought clash at Anfield. Here are our talking points from this Game Week 7 fixture.

Pablo Fornals scores with the first shot of the game:

Pablo Fornals put the Hammers ahead in the 10th minute with a nicely placed shot- also the very first of the game for either side. Also lovely buildup play from the Hammers for the goal- they began the move from inside their own half, with Arthur Masuaku and Angelo Ogbonna both playing key passes to initiate the move.

But messes up two key chances

Given the way West Ham were set up (5-4-1), they need to make the most of their limited opportunities if they had to beat the Reds. Fornals took the first one well, but they were two other equally decent opportunities in the second half that he made a mess of- first in the 50th minute when he attempted a weak sliding shot from a Cresswell cross that should’ve been ideally left for Jarrod Bowen, and another in the 65th minute when he could’ve squared to the unmarked Bowen, but chose to take the shot himself.

The Spaniard had a very decent game otherwise, but those were two glorious opportunities that had to be taken.

A disappointing mistake from Arthur Masuaku

West Ham’s plan had worked almost perfectly for 42 minutes- grab an early goal and soak up the pressure. Liverpool’s front three were reduced to feeding on scraps. At this point, Masuaku unfortunately chose to make contact with Salah in the box, and referee Kevin Friend awarded a penalty. It was a needless penalty to give away and allowed the Reds a crucial goal before half time.

Masuaku had a very good game offensively, but he can be a liability defensively at times, and this was a frustrating error.

Jota and Shaqiri extend Liverpool’s unbeaten run to 63 games

The pair of Diogo Jota and Xherdan Shaqiri came off the bench to combine for Liverpool’s winner, just as they had done in midweek against Mitdjylland. Jota had a goal disallowed a few minutes earlier, but there was no doubting this one, with Shaqiri’s nutmeg pass setting up the Portuguese star for an easy finish.

LIV WHU 2

Sebastien Haller unimpressive

With Liverpool missing Van Dijk, Matip and Fabinho, Sebastien Haller had a good opportunity to make a strong case for himself. However he came up second best in his duel against the 23 year old Nat Phillips, who was making his league debut for the Reds.

Apart from a flick on in the second half that could’ve lead to a goal (the one Fornals should’ve squared for Bowen but didn’t), Haller did precious little of note. It was another disappointing evening for the French star.

The game also saw a club debut for Said Benrahma, but he was introduced too late to have any kind of impact. David Moyes was initially planning to bring on Ryan Fredericks to keep things tight defensively, but Jota’s 85th minute goal changed matters, and he then sent on both Benrahma and Lanzini, but there was to be no repeat of the miraculous last minute equaliser against Spurs.

Liverpool 2 (Salah pen, Jota) West Ham 1 (Fornals)

Fornals lies on the ground behind the wall for KdB free kick, no Lanzini minutes & more- Talking Points from West Ham 1-1 Man City October 23 2020

West Ham continued their impressive recent run as they held Pep Guardiola’s Man City to a 1-1 draw at the London Stadium. Here are our talking points from this Game Week 6 fixture.

Pablo Fornals lying on the ground behind the wall for Kevin de Bruyne free kick:

This was an interesting tactic from West Ham, presumably to stop de Bruyne from going low when the wall jumped. The game was tied at 1-1 at that stage, with the Belgian maestro standing over the ball in a dangerous position. Will we see other teams adopting it in the future against KdB?

No minutes for Lanzini:

It was perhaps slightly surprising that Manuel Lanzini, the scorer of the stunning equaliser against Spurs last week, didn’t even make if off the bench for this clash.

Towards the end of the game, the Hammers had a very nice opportunity to make it 2-1, but a tired Pablo Fornals couldn’t quite execute a chip over City keeper Ederson in a 1v1 situation. Would a fresh Lanzini have been able to do that? Perhaps yes…

Speaking of substitutions, it was also worth noting that when Michail Antonio had to come off early in the second half, it was Andriy Yarmolenko who was his replacement and not Sebastien Haller. Yarmolenko stayed on the wing, with Jarrod Bowen occupying a more central position. When Haller did eventually come on, he had to wait for nearly TEN minutes for his first touch, and it was a defensive clearance at that! [Read more…]

Andriy Yarmolenko the unsung hero, Ogbonna “assist” for Lanzini stunner & more- Talking Points from Tottenham 3-3 West Ham

Manuel Lanzini scored a fantastic 94th minute goal of the season contender as West Ham produced a stunning comeback at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against Jose Mourinho’s Spurs on Sunday evening. Here are our talking points from this GW5 clash.

Andriy Yarmolenko the unsung hero:

Yarmolenko had a massive impact off the bench- it was he who set up Vladimir Coufal with a lovely pass in the move that eventually saw Davinson Sanchez score an own goal to make it 3-2.

We’ve often criticised the Ukrainian for his lack of defensive work, but his tracking back for Gareth Bale’s 91st minute chance was fanastic. Aaron Cresswell seemed to have given up, and Bale was one on one with Lukasz Fabianski after having got past Angelo Ogbonna with ease, but in came Yarmolenko, who had sprinted past Cresswell, and he put Bale off balance just enough for the Welsh star to squander his chance.

Ogbonna “assist” helps West Ham

Another moment, perhaps as important as Yarmolenko’s defensive intervention, came from Angelo Ogbonna. He effectively blocked the onrushing Harry Winks just as Lanzini was about to take his 94th minute shot, and gave the Argentine just that extra bit of space and time. It will not go down as an assist in the books, but it was as good as one. [Read more…]

No shots on target for Leicester, Vladimir Coufal impressive on debut & more- Talking Points from LCFC 0-3 West Ham

West Ham produced a near-flawless away performance as they handed Leicester City their first loss of the 2020/21 Premier League season. The Foxes, coming off a fine 5-2 win at the Etihad against Man City last weekend, were aiming to win the opening four games of a top flight season for the first time in their history, but were outclassed by the visitors at the King Power Stadium.

Here are our talking points from the game.

No shot on target for Leicester: Bizarre as it may sound, Leicester, who had put five past Pep Guardiola’s City in Round 3, failed to register even a single shot on target in this game. It’s only the third time the Foxes have failed to do at home in the modern Premier League era.

Brendan Rodgers’ men had nearly 70% of possession and 670 passes to the Hammers’ 291, but could simply not find a way through as the visitors defended resolutely. Harvey Barnes did manage to find the back of the net in second half stoppage time (a very nice team goal btw), but it was reversed by VAR.

For a team that’s been defensively vulnerable, especially on the road, this was a fine, fine performance from West Ham and a well deserved clean sheet for Lukasz Fabianski.

LEIWHU

Vladimir Coufal impressive on debut: The new Czech signing made his debut at right back in place of the injured Ryan Fredericks and put in a very assured performance here. Going up against Harvey Barnes away from home isn’t easy by any stretch of imagination, but Coufal set the tone for the game when he won an early 5th minute free kick against the Leicester winger.

In the 16th minute, he put in a nice tackle to stop Jamie Vardy in his tracks after the latter had turned Angelo Ogbonna inside out, and in the 22nd minute, he went over to the other side to stop a Castagne cross that could’ve easily resulted in a Leicester goal. [Read more…]

Disappointing loss, Wilson continues to torment & More- Talking Points from West Ham 0-2 Newcastle

West Ham’s 2020/21 league season started on a disappointing note as they went down 2-0 at home to Newcastle United. Jeff Hendrick and Callum Wilson were on target for Steve Bruce’s Magpies at the London Stadium. Here are our talking points from the game.

Is the Grady Diangana transfer still affecting the players?

On paper, this was a very winnable game, and given West Ham’s tough starting fixture list, it was a game David Moyes would’ve targetted for at least a point, if not all three.

The players weren’t clearly happy with the situation regarding Grady Diangana’s transfer and one wonders if it’s affected their morale. With the next set of fixtures reading Arsenal, Wolves, Leicester, Spurs, Man City and Liverpool, there is every chance the Hammers might only get their first points of the season in November!

Hammers go in the same attacking formation as they did at the end of 19/20 season

Moyes made only one change from the side that had faced Aston Villa on the final day of the 2019/20 season, with Aaron Cresswell coming in at left back for Ben Johnson. That meant a repeat of the 4-2-3-1 formation with skipper Mark Noble again effectively playing as a 10, Pablo Fornals on the left wing, Antonio alone upfront, and the troika of Anderson, Sebastien Haller and Manuel Lanzini on the bench.

Lanzini didn’t even make it off the bench while Anderson, the club’s second most expensive player, only had a minute or so of action. [Read more…]