It’s now time to take a look back at some of the main causes of discussion from David Moyes’ West Ham United’s Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round defeat to Paul Cook’s Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium on Saturday, as the Hammers lost their unbeaten run in 2018.
Hart Questioned Over Grigg Opener
With his National Team Manager Gareth Southgate keenly watching from the Stands at the DW Stadium, it clearly wasn’t the afternoon England keeper Joe Hart wanted at all two days ago.
Already playing second fiddle to Spaniard Adrian San-Miguel in League matches, the Manchester City loanee’s only playing time under Moyes appears to be in Cup Competitions, something that West Ham have now been entirely knocked out of.
But, many fans and Pundits alike were quick to jump on the back of Hart for the role he played in the giant-killing, with the Irons being dumped out by an outfit 33 places below them on the English Football Pyramid.
With just seven minutes on the clock in Lancashire, Northern Ireland man Will Grigg rose high to heads a Nathan Byrne cross goal-bound, getting the better of the shot-stopper at his near post, a cardinal sin for a goalkeeper.
Though there was plenty of power and accuracy on the header, many felt he should have kept it out, as well as Cheyenne Dunkley’s close-range finish just moments later, luckily for Hart, the offside flag was up.
The former Torino man has now conceded 33 goals in 22 matches in all Competitions and kept the 17th fewest clean sheets in the Premier League, below the total of both of primary his rivals for the Three Lions jersey.
And for large periods of this campaign, Hart was also the Division’s leakiest keeper in terms of goals conceded, stats that Hart couldn’t want further from his name in a World Cup year, with plenty now questioning, has Hart played for the last time in Claret & Blue with only League matches ahead?
Referee Kavanagh Criticised For Spot-Kick Decision
Young Select Group Referee Chris Kavanagh was the man charged with making the key calls on Saturday afternoon, in what was a gutsy encounter, a hard game to Referee if there ever was one.
But, the 33-year-old was called out for the decision that he made early in the second half to award Cook’s men a penalty, which ultimately gave them a cushion to go ahead and claim victory.
With the Hammers down to ten men, prolific forward Grigg looked to get in behind by flicked the ball over the head of former Tic Reece Burke, it instead struck his arm.
Burke’s arm did not appear to be outstretched in any way nor moved to the ball, although not entirely in a natural position, and against his body, though Kavanagh, with assistance from the Linesman on the near side, pointed to the spot.
Grigg stepped up and dispatched the penalty with ease down the middle despite protests for the visiting players to the Officials, ultimately proving the final goal of the encounter.
Members of the Claret & Blue Army won’t feel like it’s the only big call that has gone against them in this campaign so far, though, in the end, it had very little bearing in a second period where they never really looked like they had enough to forge a comeback and remain in Football’s oldest Competition.
Fans Slam “Disgusting” Masuaku
Supporters, Pundits, ex-players and much of the Footballing World were quick to condemn the actions of DR Congo International winger Arthur Masuaku after he was shown the first red card of his career in the 49th minute in Wigan.
With the ball at his feet on the left wing, the French-born star was tackled by Wigan’s Nick Powell, who leathered the ball into touch right in front of Masuaku and out for a throw.
Pausing and staring for a second, clearly disgruntled by the fashion in which Powell had acted, Masuaku spat at his opponent, prompting a furious reaction from the players in blue and white.
Although he didn’t see the offence, Kavanagh consulted with players before marching over to produce a straight red card for the African whose performances have made him popular amongst the Hammers support this season.
The paceman contested the decision, eventually leaving the field with little reaction from the Technical Area, his Manager Moyes later stating his fury at the player and that he will be dealt with accordingly.
As a mandatory rule, the Football Association are set to give the former Olympiacos star a six-game ban, though it’s understood that this could be extended.
In Round Three, Leeds United striker Samuel Saiz was given a six-match let-off for a similar offence in a defeat away at Newport County and Masuku can expect the same fate, if not worse.
However, it wasn’t the only blow in that department suffered by Moyes and his team on the afternoon, Spanish midfielder Pedro Obiang suffered a serious knee injury and was stretchered off early on.
His name came now be added to a 12-strong list of Moyes’ players that are currently sidelined through injury, a list that includes key stars Winston Reid, Manuel Lanzini and Marko Arnautovic, to name a few.
With Masuaku now unlikely to return till the very end of March and a huge run of games in the complexion of the Relegation fight ahead for them, not to mention only a few very busy days of the Transfer Window remaining, the Irons must dig deep over the next few weeks, starting with the visit of Crystal Palace on Tuesday evening.
Mario Makes Bow Off The Bench
One positive for the visitors to the DW two days ago was a certain Inter Milan loanee making his debut in Claret & Blue from the substitutes’ bench in new signing Joao Mario.
The Portugal International hooked up with the Hammers on only Friday afternoon, but was plunged into the deep end by his new Manager at half-time with his new team losing by one goal.
Despite not being able to turn the tie around, Mario looked bright and a threat in attack, linking well with his teammates having only trained with them once previously and arrived in England on Thursday.
The attack-minded midfielder will certainly be looking forward to playing with National teammate Jose Fonte, who has almost returned from an ankle injury, over the next few clashes, they were both winners of the 2016 European Championship with Portugal.
Mario’s move from Italy was only announced on Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours prior to his introduction to English Football, and he will undoubtedly get more of a chance to prove himself in the weeks and months that lay ahead, will he be able to play a key role in West Ham’s Premier League survival?
So, now that everything there was to talk about from an afternoon to forget in a hurry for Moyes’ boys has well and truly been covered, will there be some more positive points to draw on come Tuesday night? After Roy Hodgson’s struggling Eagles have paid the London Stadium a visit in the English Top-Flight.