is Ham are desperate to upset the Premier League’s big six apple baskets and yet, at the moment, it still looks like it’s going on.
A 1-0 loss to Manchester United here at Old Trafford made it 11 league games without a win against the established top flight so far this year.
None of those results – nine losses and two draws – were damning in isolation and, some of them significantly worse than what the Hammers deserved, but the trend is a problem for a team catching up in the race for European places and not picking up points regularly enough elsewhere to close the gap.
That this is the seventh of those defeats to result in a single goal will be small consolation for David Moyes, especially here at the home of his former club, as he has reached a personal milestone not Desired: Of 70 league appearances at Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United in his managerial career, the Scot’s total wins are precisely nil.
Quite where the problem lies is not clear. Naturally, the Hammers are at a resource and quality disadvantage, but that hasn’t stopped them in the past: in the first half of last season, Moyes’ men beat Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool in the league and beat Manchester clubs out of the League Cup.
So is it a matter of belief?
Certainly there were parallels here with the defeat at Anfield earlier this month, with the Hammers falling behind at one of the most intimidating venues in English football and remembering too late that it was not the fortress that she once was.
At half-time the visitors were lucky enough to follow only Marcus Rashford’s superb header from a cross from Christian Eriksen, but in the latter part of the second half it was the home side who broke. hooked.
David De Gea made some brilliant saves to counter Kurt Zouma, while Harry Maguire’s heel scuffed Jarrod Bowen’s scuffed finish away from the far corner before Declan Rice was also thwarted by a terrific save from the Spanish keeper at the far end. deep downtime.
Southgate present as England stars deliver mixed bag
Bowen’s recovery from an ankle injury and Victor Lindelof’s illness – which handed Maguire a start – meant there was plenty to watch England manager Gareth Southgate feast on in the penultimate round games before he named his World Cup squad.
Maguire did little to allay concerns over his form, twice desperately exposed midway as West Ham countered and saved only by recovery work from Lisandro Martinez.
More enjoyable for Southgate will have been the displays of Luke Shaw and Rice, the former approaching the form that made him such a star at the Euros last summer and Rice already there.
Best of all, however, was the performance of Rashford, whose terrific run and header was that of a player whose confidence has been restored. The striker’s goal was his seventh of the season in all competitions but the first in the Premier League since the last international break, for which he was reportedly awaiting a recall to England until he was sent off for injury.
The absence of Paqueta hurts the hammers
Moyes persisted here with his experience of using Flynn Downes as a Lucas Paqueta placeholder at No.10, but again, it just didn’t work.
The former Swansea man struggled in position, largely sidelined from the game by Casemiro, a midfielder who nullified some of Europe’s best playmakers during a career that won five League titles champions and who controlled affairs here.
Lacking a liaison man, the Hammers relied too much on the individual talents of the snitch but often isolated Said Benrahma to launch their attacks, while Gianluca Scamacca hardly got a kick (when he did , it was from the head of Lisandro Martinez, rather than the Ball).
It’s no coincidence that Italian Scamacca’s performances have plummeted since Paqueta’s injury temporarily suspended what had quickly become a fruitful relationship and the Italian was dragged off before the hour mark in favor of the most industrious Michail Antonio.