It’s now time to trawl back over some of the main causes of discussion from Saturday’s Amex Stadium Premier League clash between Chris Hughton’s Brighton & Hove Albion and David Moyes’ West Ham United, as the Hammers tasted a first League defeat of 2018.
Murray Continues Wondrous Form
Brighton striker Glenn Murray has already proved a tremendous handful to the defence of West Ham once this season and the story would be very much the same at the American Express Community Stadium two days ago.
The former Crystal Palace man netted twice in his team’s 0-3 triumph at the London Stadium back in October 2017 and carried on his knack of scoring against the Hammers.
With just eight minutes on the clock, a clever pass from Pascal Gross after Aaron Cresswell had fouled Anthony Knockaert played Murray in beyond the back five.
He remained cool, calm and collected to slide the ball under Adrian San-Miguel and give the Seagulls the perfect start, meaning that at that point, he was the scorer of the club’s last four goals in all Competitions.
The Englishman has now netted ten goals for the season, which is two more than any of the East Londoners’ forwards and the sixth goal that Murray has managed to notch against the Irons of his playing career.
There is little doubt that the 34-year-old has been galvanised by the two winter arrivals in the South Coast in the form of Leonardo Ulloa and Jurgen Locadia, challenging him for position.
Moyes will be hoping that his own new signing, physical centre-forward Jordan Hugill who made his debut at the Amex, can push along the strikers that he has available to him amid an injury crisis.
Although first, the Scotsman may need to consider dealing with another talisman next weekend, Watford’s Troy Deeney in attack, when his Hertfordshire team travel to East London for a key clash.
Hammers Slip To First Defeat Of 2018
Having gone unbeaten for a run of six Premier League matches, the Irons finally became unstuck two days ago, enduring a first League loss since two days before Christmas.
It’s Moyes’ first away defeat in the PL since the very end of November, when the club went down 4-0 at the hands of Everton at Goodison Park, his former team.
However, the disappointing result wasn’t enough to lose the visitors any ground in the fight for survival in the bottom half, remaining in 12th position, while Albion climbed two spots to 13th.
Despite both outfits looking to be in more mid-table positions, both on 27 points, they’re just three above the dreaded drop zone and far from any kind of safety at this stage.
One would feel that 40 points will ensure Premier League status for another campaign, but with the bottom half looking so tight, this is hardly a guarantee either.
The triumph for Brighton was, ironically their first of the year in the Top-Flight and it doesn’t take much to realise that it was a much-needed one too, they had scored a mere six goals in ten matches heading into it.
Meanwhile, the result scuppered what had been one of West Ham’s best ever PL starts to a calendar year, having remained undefeated in the first five matches of one for the first time since all the way back in 1974.
Nevertheless, the East London side have still only lost two in their last 11 in the League and both have come against teams in and around their position, while Hughton’s men have emerged victorious in a quarter of their last eight League games, their last win before Saturday coming on the same day as their opposition’s last loss.
However, there can be no dwelling on this outcome for either team, they will be back to the grind straight away, looking ahead to yet more crucial matchup’s next weekend.
Chicharito Carries On Impressive Away Record
If there was one speckle of positivity for the travelling Claret & Blue Army on the South Coast over the weekend, it surely came in the form of Javier Hernandez’s sixth goal of the season so far.
23 minutes after Murray had fired the hosts into the lead, Chicharito picked up the ball outside the penalty area, rolling it through the legs of Davy Propper and shifting it to Mark Noble.
His short pass found Joao Mario, who’s flick laid the ball off perfectly for Hernandez, the man who he appears to be forging an exciting new partnership with.
Mexico’s all-time leading goal-scorer was left to dance his way around three defenders and pick out the right-hand top corner, leaving Mat Ryan between the sticks with very little chance.
The strike was Hernandez’s second goal in the space of three League matches, he also won the penalty for Noble’s equaliser against the Eagles on Tuesday evening.
Out of his total of notches for 2017/2018, four of them have come away from home, fitting in with his career-long trend of being better at scoring on the road at his various different clubs.
But, the away side wouldn’t have been very pleased with the fact that it was their only shot of the match on target, meaning that they have only managed one in their previous two trips in all Competitions.
Though there was some encouragement in attacking sense, the return of Michail Antonio, the 2016/2017 Hammer of the Year, from injury and disciplinary problems, which is sure to give them an extra cutting-edge in the next few weeks, along with the duo of Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini believed to be not too far off coming back.
For now, however, they will desperately be hoping that “The Little Pea” can continue his recent run in front of goal, starting with next Saturday’s encounter with the Hornets.
Izquierdo Haunts East Londoners Once Again
Some players are just made to have magical moments against certain sides and that is certainly how Hammers fans would have felt having witnessed the wizardry of Jose Izquierdo for the second time in the space of four months.
Already beating then number one, Joe Hart, from distance at the London stadium earlier in the season, the Columbian, who has only netted once against a club that is not the Hammers in his first term in English Football, Stoke City, was looking to inflict more misery on the same team.
And he did that very thing mid-way through the second period, collecting the ball after a corner on the far side, stopping for a few moments to assess his options and going for audacity by trying to curl it in the far top corner.
His effort was simply out of the very top drawer, a pure wonder strike that is sure to contend for Premier League Goal of the Season, though it wasn’t the only one at the Falmer Stadium.
The points were wrapped up in style by Gross a short while later, turning with the ball on the counter-attack on the edge of the area and dragging a shot, under plenty of pressure, back into Adrian’s bottom corner at real pace.
In truth, there may have been a sprinkling of fairy dust in the air on the South Coast, though Brighton’s seventh, eighth and ninth goals in ten were certainly worth the wait for the home fans, not so much the away supporters on a chilly Sussex afternoon.
So, now that everything there was to talk about in the wake of an afternoon to forget for the Hammers at the Amex Stadium has been well and truly covered, will there be some more positive points to draw on come Saturday evening? Once Javier Gracia’s Watford have paid the London Stadium a visit in the Premier League.