West Ham United 2-0 Aston Villa
Anything but a win today would not be acceptable, that doesn’t often get said in the league but when the bottom place team visit that really should be the case. Our home record has been fantastic since the back to back home defeats at the start of the season, so a win here was quietly expected.
From around the 3rd minute of the game, after a few chances of our own Aston Villa began to control the ball and we didn’t really seem to have an answer to it. West Ham looked to have continued from how we were playing against Liverpool in the FA Cup, which began to get to the packed out stadium.
During this tricky period, West Ham looked to be given a bit of luck for once in our favour. Michail Antonio clearly blocked a cross with his hand whilst in our penalty area, the referee waved the appeal away to the disgust of the entire Villa following. Another controversial moment on a part of the game that has been analysed all season long.
That was until the 17th minute of the game, where a moment of complete stupidity and careless behaviour from Aston Villa’s Jordan Ayew all but sealed the game for the Villains. He received a straight red card for elbowing Aaron Cresswell in the face unprovoked, from referee Jon Moss, who has issued 3 reds in the 3 games he’s taken charge of West Ham this season.
It was from that point on that West Ham picked their game up and began to dominate the possession and chances. We never really created any clear chances as Villa defended for their lives with every single available man back helping out, which also stopped them from attacking us.
In truth I think we needed half time to come as soon as possible, to allow the team to regain their concentration and get some words of support from the manager to go out and show we can deal with these sorts of situations which can be hard to counter sometimes.
The second half started with exactly the same pattern as the first ended in, with the Villa players camped in their own half defending their goal from the continuous West Ham attacks. Gradually the attacks were looking more promising, and the much needed breakthrough arrived on the 58th minute of the game.
Mark Noble played a fantastic diagonal ball over the visiting players, that was met right on time by an inform Michail Antonio who gave the pass the result it deserved. A perfectly executed header that was curved and placed precisely into the far bottom corner of the goal. This is one area of Noble’s game that has certainly improved this season and he really has been a crucial part of the team.
We attacked more and more, as inevitably Villa pushed out now needing to score to take something from the game. But we didn’t seem to have the same sharpness we have shown over the season so far.
It wasn’t until the 85th minute of the game that we sealed the win with our second goal. A rare Villa chance resulted in winning a corner, however within just 14 seconds of that we had our second of the night. The corner easily cleared, Payet flicked the ball around a rather tired looking Aston Villa player who put little effort into stopping the attack from developing.
Enner Valencia picked up the ball from the previous flick, and ran from our box to theirs, where he simply slotted a ball through to Kouyate who had also ran the full length of the pitch, he took it in his stride and shot the ball high into the net to finish the game off for good. Kouyate has added goals into his play this season which can be so helpful to the team as the strikers can’t always be the ones to get the goals just like in this game.
Adrian 8/10 – Almost nothing to do with Villa having only 2 shots on target.
Tomkins 8/10 – Surprised to see him after having 13 stitches put in his head, but doubt he’ll have a more attacking game that this one, perhaps should’ve even scored.
Reid 8/10 – Rarely troubled, but again dealt with what he had to, very much a day off in terms of defending.
Collins 8/10 – Pretty much the same game as Reid, an easy game against his former team.
Cresswell 9/10 – A real bonus when attacking a team with everyman back, put in some dangerous crosses.
Noble 9/10 – Another good game from the captain, fantastic range of passing and the assist for the first goal.
Kouyate 8/10 – Didn’t have a massive impact but got a goal at the end to add to his season tally, good to see from a midfielder.
Song 7/10 – Played well but not much to do throughout, slightly wasteful at times witha few sloppy passes.
Antonio 8/10 – Most threatening attacking player on the day, and the goal proves that, showing why he deserves to keep his starting place in the team.
Payet 7/10 – Not his best game, a few skills as always. Would like to see him play in the middle as opposed to on the wing as I feel he’s wasted out there.
Valencia 7/10 – Given his good form, a disappointing game from the Ecuadorian, but wasn’t just him who had a below par game.
Man of the match
A couple of players that could’ve had the man of the match from the game, is firstly Aaron Cresswell. Really helped out with breaking the Villa defence down, with some dangerous crosses and direct play. Another is Antonio, a brilliantly taken goal, but feel he wasted a few good chances he also had earlier in the game and the 6 shots on target out of 25 we had shows just that, slightly harsh maybe but the man of the match had a stand out game.
That player is Mark Noble, this game was a demonstration of how he had improved even more this season under new manager Slaven Bilic. Showed a fantastic range of passing, really crucial for getting our first goal as going for the neat ground play was almost impossible with a packed area to negotiate through.
Noble created but also had a few chances of his own, one that leaps out is the volley direct from a Dimitri Payet corner, something that looks to have been tested out in training. Unfortunately the keeper saved what would have been one of the best goals this season.
He showed good player management as the captain always encouraging his teammates in this tough game. Individually he is also as committed as ever before, having run the most distance out of any player from both teams (11.47km), and putting his body on the line whenever needed.
The next week is an important one for the hammers, We face Southampton away who are 5 points below us in the table. If we could make it 8 that could really spur us on for the remainder of the season, also a chance to go 5th with Manchester United facing a rejuvenated Chelsea side in a game that could go either way.
We also have an FA Cup replay to deal with, as Liverpool visit Upton Park as we face them for the 4th time this season and what will now definitely be the last time at the Boleyn. A good opportunity to really kick start this cup run with Blackburn Rovers waiting in the next round for the winner of this tie.