It’s now time to trawl back over some of the main causes of discussion in the wake of yesterday evening’s narrow draw with Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur, as David Moyes’ Hammers took yet another small step away from danger.
Stern Hammers Defence Frustrates Eager Spurs
There is little doubt that the visitors to West London last night saw plenty more rear-guard action than they did of anything else, more defending than attacking for sure.
The hosts managed to get a staggering 31 shots away at the Irons’ back five, only scoring once and that came courtesy of a Son Heung-min wonder goal, which we will touch on later.
A huge contributor to this near complete shut-out was the way that Moyes decided to set out his defence, a solid unit made up of Pablo Zabaleta, Declan Rice, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna and Arthur Masuaku.
The fabulous five gelled well together and were able to keep the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son from causing any real danger for the most part with tight marking, a series of excellent blocks and clearances and an admirable display between the sticks from keeper Adrian San-Miguel.
Rice, the young Irish prodigy, earned Man of the Match for his exploits in helping the defensive cause, composed on the ball and strong in tackling and clearing, Reid and Ogbonna also contended for the award.
Of Tottenham’s staggering amount of shots registered, eight were on target which stands testament to the showing of Adrian and the blocking capabilities of the away side’s back line.
There is little doubt that the Scotsman at the helm in East London may have stumbled across his tightest defensive formation, one that could well keep his team’s run of only one defeat in the last seven League games going.
Obiang Piledriver Almost Gives Visitors Unlikely Victory
It would take the visitors all of 70 minutes to have an effort at Hugo Lloris’ goal, but when the first finally came courtesy of Spanish midfielder Pedro Obiang, it was a pure moment to savour.
Receiving a short pass from Manuel Lanzini on the left side, the former Sampdoria man drove at the box, drawing Lilywhites defenders towards him and unleashing a wondrous strike just at the right time.
Wembley Stadium and all its occupants stood in awe as the ball soared high into Lloris’ left-hand corner, the French Captain was given no chance by the power and accuracy of it.
Obiang’s second of the season and what could well turn out to be the Premier League Goal of the Season had looked like it gave the East Londoners an unexpected three points.
And it very well may have contributed to a triumph had Andre Ayew and Cheikhou Kouyate taken late chances after they were teed up by Arthur Masuaku and Lanzini respectively, but they couldn’t, and the hosts drew level.
Although it may have brought the Footballing world to its knees in shock, it won’t be the first time that seasoned veterans of the Claret & Blue Army have seen the midfielder show off his capacity for shooting from long-range.
In fact, all three of the defensive midfielder’s goals for the club have come from comfortably outside the penalty area, both previous strikes were also deflected, coming against Southampton last season and Huddersfield Town in September.
He may be the curator of moments of magic once in a while, however, with such competition for his position in the starting Xl, Obiang’s form must continue to improve over the coming weeks, this may just be the boost he needs.
Questionable Referee Dean Scrutinised Once More
Just days after being much-maligned for a late decision in the Premier League clash between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal, Mike Dean came under fire yet again for a big call yesterday evening.
The senior Select Group Official, according to many a fan and Pundit, should have pulled play back in the run-up to the hosts’ equaliser with Davinson Sanchez lunging in dangerously on Lanzini.
The Columbian’s challenge was made with both feet and no doubt posed a threat to his position in the match and the well-being of the Argentine despite winning the ball.
Dean did see the tackle but decisively decided to let play go on, a costly decision for the visitors in the end, although it isn’t the first time that West Ham have been let down by an Official in the last few weeks.
However, the decision didn’t quite match the severity of the Boxing Day clash at the Vitality Stadium, where Referee Bobby Madley allowed a goal to stand that Linesman Simon Long had ruled out for offside, replays showing that it was both offside and a handball offence.
The Irons will certainly be hoping to get the rub of the green when it comes to the aspect of the match that isn’t in their hands at the New Meadow on Sunday evening when they clash with Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup.
Son Magic Denies Moyes’ Boys Late On
As much as Obiang’s firecracker and the strong showing of the visitors’ defence made the headlines, there was no doubting that Son’s leveller deserved plenty of the spotlight in its own right.
Much like the strike of his opposite number, the South Korean International collected the ball and found space on the edge of the penalty box, looking for an opening.
With only Mark Noble apprehending him, Son smashed a racy effort past a helpless Adrian and high into the back of the net, controversially celebrating in front of the travelling fans in their corner of Wembley.
The goal ultimately saved a point for the home team on what was a frustrating night for them, as they stayed in fifth position and the visitors moved up a place to 15th.
Had it not been for Obiang’s earlier stunner, Son’s hit could well have ended a special record that Moyes’ men possess at Wembley Stadium, having not lost at the sight since the day of the first ever FA Cup final to be held there, all the way back in 1923.
It was also the second time in 2017/2018 that the East Londoners visited the Arena, defeating the Lilywhites there in the Carabao Cup under Slaven Bilic back in October.
The Stratford-based club will be dreaming, in addition, that it won’t be the last time that they play on Wembley’s hallowed turf this season, several Rounds of the FA Cup stand in their way, however, should they not draw Tottenham in the Competition before that.
So, now that everything there was to discuss after last night’s hard-fought point in West London has been well and truly covered, will there be yet more positive points to draw on come Sunday evening? When the Irons have paid Paul Hurst’s Shrewsbury a visit in the FA Cup Third Round.