West Ham made it three wins on the bounce as goals from Angelo Ogbonna and Jarrod Bowen were enough to scrape past Aston Villa.
WEST HAM TEAM NEWS
David Moyes made one change to his West Ham side ahead of the match. Despite scoring the winner against Sheffield United Sebastien Haller was dropped from the starting eleven in place of the returning Michail Antonio.
Besides that one change, the rest of the team remained the same. No place for Andriy Yarmolenko who has been missing since his positive COVID-19 test. Said Benrahma, on the other hand, will have to wait even longer until he makes full Hammers debut.
Inside the first minute of the match, West Ham had the first chance of the game from a long-throw. Arthur Masuaku hurled the ball into the box before Tomas Soucek turned and fired a shot goalwards. The shot was deflected out for a corner.
From the resulting corner, the Hammers stormed into an early lead. Jarrod Bowen whipped in a perfect corner for Angelo Ogbonna. The Italian connected perfectly with the cross and smashed the ball into the net. Emiliano Martinez complained of a foul, but there was no wrong-doing.
After the rapid start to the game, the tempo quickly slowed down as the game turned into a midfield battle. The Hammers started to take their foot off the gas and were lacking some penetration in their attacks. Villa was struggling themselves to make any clearcut chances. The visitors best chance in the first twenty minutes was a header from Ezri Konsa, but it was too high.
Though the Villians didn’t have to wait too long to conjure up a meaningful effort on goal. Aaron Cresswell gave away a free-kick in a dangerous area. The resulting free-kick was smashed goalwards by Connor Hourihane. Lukasz Fabianski was equal to the effort and made a great save.
Only a couple of minutes later, Jack Grealish pulled his side level. The Englishman collected the ball and charged straight at the Hammers defence. Grealish then fired a twenty-yard effort into the goal via a slight deflection from Ogbonna.
The equaliser did little to wake West Ham up as Villa were carrying the greater threat. Grealish was the man causing trouble. The Englishman was drawing fouls from the Hammers defence, though the visitors were able to make the free-kicks count.
Villa almost took the lead on the 36th minute. After some brilliant one-touch passing from the visitors. The ball eventually fell to summer signing Ollie Watkins, but he could not get his shot on target.
As the first half was drawing to a close Villa were looking likely to take the lead one way or another. Hourihane had a free-kick flash past the post as they were dominating the majority of proceedings. West Ham will have been relieved at the half-time whistle.
Moyes made a double change ahead of the second half. Haller and Benrahma replace Antonio and Masuaku. The Hammers switched to a traditional back-four with Cresswell playing as a left-back and Benrahma playing further up the pitch.
The change worked brilliantly as the Hammers retook the lead immediately. Straight after the restart, Bowen found Benrahma out on the wing. The Algerian clipped a cross back into the box for Bowen. The Englishman flicked his header over Martinez into the net to restore the lead.
The match started to get a bit bitey. Fornals picked up a yellow card for a soft foul on Grealish. However, the midfielder delayed his drop to the ground and went down in flamboyant fashion. Haller, however, escaped punishment for a late challenge on Tyrone Mings. Villa were giving as good as they got but were going unpunished.
The visitors should have equalled the scores on the hour mark. A quick counter from a corner saw Watkins pick up the ball on the edge of the Hammers area. The striker squared the ball to Trezeguet, and with the goal at his mercy, scuffed his shot and Fabianski was able to make the save.
The man in black, Peter Bankes then gave Villa a penalty on the 70th minute. Declan Rice was adjudged to have fouled Trezeguet with a shirt pull. Watkins stepped up to take the penalty and rattled the crossbar. Rice will have felt some relief, and that justice was served after the miss.
Moyes made his final change of the match on the 78th minute. Club captain Mark Noble came on in place of goalscorer Bowen. The move was made to try and sure up the Hammers midfield and defence. West Ham were prepared for a backs to the wall performance in the finals stages of the game.
As West Ham dropped deeper, Villa started to throw everything at them as they chased another equaliser. Fabianksi made a couple of routine stops as the Villa pressure started to mount. Villa, however, weren’t able to create a clear opening on goal. There was still time though as five minutes were added on.
Villa did get the ball in the back of the net in the 91st minute. Watkins latched onto a cross from Matty Targett and finished first-time past Fabianski. VAR, however, adjudged the goal to be offside, probably the tightest of offsides since it’s introduction.
After the penalty, Villa wasn’t able to create anything else before full-time. The win for West Ham moves them above Villa and all the way into fifth in the Premier League.