West Ham United continued their Premier League campaign with Crystal Palace, making the short journey from the South of London to the London Stadium. With West Ham showing impressive form over the last few months, the bookies had predicted a Hammers victory.
David Moyes‘ men had seen off both Newcastle United and Leicester City in the first weeks of the new domestic season, scoring a total of 8 goals. Michail Antonio had been one of the major stars among the new season, breaking the record previously held by Paolo Di Canio – the highest amount of Premier League goals scored by a West Ham United player.
Crystal Palace came into the game with 0 points and no goals scored. New manager Patrick Vieira had a slow start to his managerial career, losing 3-0 to Chelsea on the first day of the season, then drawing 0-0 with newly-promoted Brentford. West Ham saw an unchanged lineup to the side that beat Leicester City last week, with the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach coming from Moyes.
West Ham United: Fabianski, Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Soucek, Rice (c), Bowen, P. Fornals, Benrahma, Antonio.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Mitchell, Guehi, Andersen, Ward, Gallagher, Kouyate, McArthur (c), Ayew, Zaha, Benteke.
The first half of the game showed an overwhelming West Ham threat, with Lukasz Fabianski rarely touching the ball. The Hammers appeared to carry on from where they left off against the Foxes, with neat passing, attacking threat, and bundles of confidence.
West Ham United
The 15-minute mark saw the first real chance of goal coming from defender Craig Dawson, who did well to get a shot on target after being tightly marked by Palace defenders. This triggered a great run of play for The Irons as 2 minutes later, Said Benrahma received the ball in a wide position, flicked the ball high over the head of Tyrick Mitchell, and drove into the box.
The final ball let him down, however, and no one was able to convert the opportunity. Benrahma received a roar from the fans and further boosted the confidence of the West Ham players. The deadlock was finally broken at 39 minutes after constant waves of Claret and Blue pressure.
An Antonio classic drive into the opponent’s box saw him beat Joel Ward and Joachim Andersen and found Pablo Fornals outside the box. Antonio found himself in space slightly closer to goal, and Fornals slid the ball back to him – once again eliminating the Palace defenders.
With Vicente Guaita heading towards Antonio with speed, the No.9 found Fornals once again lingering around the 6-yard box, who hammered the ball into the back of the Eagles net. It’s fair to say the London Stadium enjoyed it, with the home fans absolutely erupting in joy.
The first half finished with a goal to the good and very little Palace desire.
No changes came for either team at the beginning of the second half, and the game was resumed. The Hammers had a slow start to the half, with sloppy passing and final balls letting the home side down. Poor pressing from West Ham allowed for the first Palace opportunity, in which loanee Conor Gallagher converted for the visitors at 58 minutes.
Angelo Ogbonna and Dawson appeared rushed and indecisive, with neither spotting Gallagher on his own. It could be argued that Fabianski should have saved the shot, too, as he did bat a hand out to the ball – it just wasn’t enough to deny the Eagles a goal.
The Hammers responded well, where 10 minutes after the Palace goal, Cresswell sent a long overhead ball to Antonio, who, once again, got the better of both Mitchell and Andersen. The West Ham all-time top scorer brought the ball down and smashed the ball into the back of the net – a goal of a man who’s playing in the form of his life.
Celebrations didn’t last long – about 43 seconds long – before quality from Gallagher was too much for Dawson. McArthur flew a ball into the box from a wide position to the Palace goalscorer, who performed a Cryuff turn away from Dawson, and got the best of Fabianski.
If West Ham successfully converted their chances in the first half, Palace would have suffered a heavy defeat. However, if the second half is anything to go by, the visitors deserve to equal the scoreline. Hammers fans after the game argued that the match felt like a loss due to the way their team had been playing for the last few weeks.
The recent addition of Kurt Zouma is fantastic for West Ham, as his experience and quality can provide some stability in the defense – an area that shows particular weakness. Some further additions will be necessary for The Hammers, as bringing on Andriy Yarmolenko to impact a game is not ideal.