West Ham’s unbeaten run of four games came to an end last night against Brighton and Hove Albion. Glenn Murray’s 25th minute goal from inside the six-yard box was the only goal of the game as the Hammers lost 1-0 at the Amex.
The result was disappointing for West Ham, but the performance was even more so considering previous showings from the Hammers. Despite having plenty of the ball and 16 shots on goal the Hammers were unable to get on the score sheet, with Fabian Balbuena and Marko Arnautovic missing clear chances.
During the first half the side looked lethargic and unmotivated. The side didn’t threaten often enough going forward, taking far too long on the ball. Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko, who had been so effective in recent weeks, were on the fringes throughout the game and failed to create much real danger.
They were also poor defensively, as was epitomised by Murray’s goal. A simple ball to Beram Kayal had been enough to send him down the wing. Balbuena wasn’t decisive enough regarding whether to shut down the Israeli or defend in the box and was consequentially caught in no man’s land. Issa Diop attempted to sort out the mess as he shuffled across and instructed Arthur Masuaku to come over and mark Murray. The left back didn’t do that though, leaving the Englishman to convert with ease without any pressure being put on him.
The performance did improve in the second half, but the Hammers were unable to carve out a goal. There was a real lack of cutting edge from the men in claret and blue, something which Manuel Pellegrini clearly attempted to address with his substitutions. The Chilean brought Michail Antonio, Lucas Perez and Robert Snodgrass on for Pedro Obiang, Yarmolenko and Mark Noble at different points in the second half.
With five attacking minded players on the pitch it would have been expected that the away side could score, especially considering the amount of the ball they were seeing and how deep Brighton had dropped. However, there was still a lack of fluidity in their play at points and there was nobody who was able to show the quality needed to bring the sides level. If anything, the number of players in the attacking areas were more of a hindrance, as Perez was ineffective after coming on, while Antonio’s decision making was poor and he failed to make a positive impact.
Overall, it was a frustrating night for the Hammers and one that they’ll want to put behind them quickly. They’ll have to wait for their chance to put things right though, due to the upcoming international break. Their first game after the break is at home against Tottenham Hotspur, the perfect game in which to put things right.
West Ham have dropped into 15th following this result ahead of the Premier League fixtures to be played over the weekend, with Southampton and Fulham the only sides who can overtake them. This result may have been disappointing, but having gone into the last international table bottom without a single point to their name, being out of the relegation zone reminds supporters the club has been in worse positions this season.
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