It’s now time to take a look back at some of the main causes of discussion from Saturday’s Premier League draw between David Moyes’ West Ham United and Eddie Howe’s AFC Bournemouth at the London Stadium, as both teams picked up a valuable point in the fight for survival.
Chicharito Off The Bench To Save Hammers
For many, it would seem ironic that the man who is seemingly being linked away from East London with every club under the Sun, be the man to enter the field and save a pivotal draw for his team.
Javier Hernandez was the only outfield player above the age of 25 on the substitutes’ bench of an injury-stricken Irons Squad and could well have missed the match himself, having been struck down with flu in the week.
Heading into the affair, Chicharito was goalless since the back end of October, when he popped up to net against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, his fourth strike of the season at that point.
As chance would have it on Saturday afternoon, he entered the field due to an injury to midfield playmaker Manuel Lanzini, though that very knock proved the reason that the hosts were able to level.
Less than 70 seconds after Ryan Fraser had given the away side the advantage on 71 minutes, Hernandez flicked on a long ball that was headed into his path by Cheikhou Kouyate to Marko Arnautovic.
The Austrian top-goal-scorer, who has now been involved in five goals in his last two starts, saw his effort blocked by Cherries Captain Simon Francis and fall to the feet of the Mexican, he, in trademark style, remains composed to stab the ball underneath Asmir Begovic and into the back of the net.
Officially, there was a mere 62 seconds between the match’s two goals crossing the line and the second of them proved the “Little Pea’s” 42nd Premier League strike, none of them have come from outside the confines of the 16-yard box.
Many members of the Claret & Blue Army will now be hoping that Hernandez’s influence will be the end of the rumours and the start of a promising run of form for him, an opportunity to end an injury-blighted season in the strongest possible fashion.
Stanislas Comes Back To Haunt Former Club
Another irony from two days ago came in the form of the old cliché about t players returning to their former stamping ground, and never could this be truer for Bournemouth attacker Junior Stanislas.
The paceman, a product of West Ham’s Academy, going on to make nearly 50 appearances for them between 2007 and 2011, came on in place of Jordon Ibe in the second period, requiring a late fitness test to allow him to feature.
But, Stanislas certainly didn’t look to be lacking an energy in the wake of his introduction, a constant threat and handful for Moyes’ backline and one that they struggled to keep tabs on.
This was seen most vividly for the former England Youth International’s assist, receiving a pass from Steve Cook in the centre of the field before turning to goal and picking out a superb pass for Fraser.
The Scotland man was played in on the left and managed to beat Adrian San-Miguel from a tough angle, the shot-stopper was criticised by fans and Pundits for losing his bearings.
However, if it wasn’t for him, Stanislas could have made his mark on the affair even more just a few moments later and secure three points on the road for his side.
Picking up the ball in a similar area outside of the box, he decided to shoot on this occasion, the Spaniard between the sticks needing to react quickly to make the save, something that he did very well, pushing it well out of danger and for a corner.
However, as it stood, the stalemate saw the team from the South Coast climb a place to 12th above the Eagles, a point and a place below the East Londoners and unbeaten in five English Top-Flight outings.
Irons Maintain Unbeaten Run
As much as the weekend’s draw frustrated home supporters, whose team spurned more than their fair share of chances to claim a victory, it was hugely significant in keeping their team’s undefeated run in one piece.
Moyes’ side’s last defeat came two days before Christmas, only their third loss of December in total, and by a 2-3 scoreline at London Stadium to Newcastle United.
Since then, they have registered four draws and three wins, unbeaten in seven matches in all Competitions, a feat that hasn’t been achieved in East London since Slaven Bilic’s first season in charge, the 2015/2016 campaign.
In those seven outings, Moyes’ boys have scored 12 times and only conceded on seven occasions, a sure sign of major improvement since the arrival of the former Manchester United Manager.
Before he arrived, the Irons were lurking on the brink of the drop zone in 17th position, they now sit pretty in mid-table, 11th place and looking up rather than down.
A huge component of this upturn in fortunes have been the defence, what was consistently and statistically the worst in the Division, is presently the third worst and going in the right direction.
However, at the other ends, things have also been vastly bettered, the club are now in the top town in the PL for most strikes with 30, heavy victories like those at the Bet365 Stadium and the John Smith’s Stadium contributing, the Hammers are now believed to be just a few points from securing safety, can they do it in the next few weeks?
What Did The Managers Have To Say?
Now, let’s hear from both Managers and find out what they had to say in their respective Post-Match Press Conferences at London Stadium, which MooreThanJustAClub were fortunate enough to be in.
“I thought we’ve probably played our best Football here since I’ve taken over, I thought the first-half we passed it well, we missed a cutting edge”.
“I think we showed some really good things, and for me it’s progress, it’s things look better going in the right direction”.
“Today, the boys who’ve probably been a handful all year, since I’ve come in, just didn’t quite get the magic today which we needed from them, but overall, with 15 minutes to go, I would have taken a draw”.
“Lanzini’s a worry, it looks like a hamstring, we’ll get it scanned tomorrow, I think the Lanzini thing’s come more form probably, generally, fatigue, we’ve asked him in midweek to work and work again today”.
“I thought we were quite slow out the traps today, I don’t think it was a great start to the game for us, I thought we did well not to concede”.
“But, we grew into the game, got better as it went on and there was a similar start to the second-half if I’m honest, but then we scored a great goal”.
“And you hope that with the way that we’ve defended for the majority of the day, that was going to be enough to win, but of course, we conceded straight after so that’s the big disappointment today”.
“I think we’re personally, we can only speak for ourselves, but we’re on a good run and unbeaten runs are very difficult to achieve in the Premier League and we’ve known that historically”.
So, now that every there was to talk about from Saturday afternoon’s East London stalemate has been well and truly covered, will there be more positive points to draw on come next weekend? After the Hammers have faced off with Paul Cook’s Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup Fourth Round at the DW Stadium.