West Ham 2-2 Brighton
Author: Brian Knox. Published: 2 January 2019 at 10:32pm
Match Report by @WestHamAmerican
West Ham drew with Brighton today in both clubs’ first fixture of the New Year. Goals by Dale Stephens and Shane Duffy were answered by a brace from Marko Arnautovic, who gave the London Stadium crowd a sense of relief after a listless start to the game.
The opening half saw the hosts with a majority of possession but it seemed that Brighton had better quality during their time with the ball. West Ham did have one very good opportunity as Felipe Anderson took a strike off a Zabaleta header from 15 yards out, but the strike was easily gathered by David Button. Later in the half Arnautovic took a good strike from just outside the penalty area but Button’s diving save kept the score sheet 0-0 at the break.
During the break Manuel Pellegrini replaced Andy Carroll with Lucas Perez, but the Hammer’s collective enthusiasm didn’t change. On an early corner kick the rebound found its way to Dale Stephens 18 yards out. His volley was beyond Fabianski’s reach and opened up the scoring.
Only two minutes later another poorly defended corner kick allowed Shane Duffy to curl it in from a difficult angle on the far-side post. Down 0-2 with thirty minutes to play Pellegrini brought Mark Noble and Michail Antonio on and immediately the team saw a lift.
It was Noble, moments later, served up Arnautovic all the way from midfield, and Arnie was able to physically dominate Shane Duffy on his drive to the goal and score in physical fashion. With the momentum squarely on West Ham’s side, it wasn’t long until they found a second.
Moments after his first goal, Arnautovic received a cross from Antonio only seven yards in front of the goal. He chipped it over the crowd and into the net, and West Ham was quickly even at 2-2 with twenty minutes to play. There was some controversy as to whether Antonio had dribbled out of bounds prior to his cross, but video review showed that the ball was still in play by the narrowest of margins.
The hosts were unable to harness the momentum and find a game winner, but their defending was improved from the opening of the match, and West Ham was able to secure a 2-2 draw
It was a successful 30 day period for West Ham. Securing 16 points out of a possible 24, in a crowded December with numerous first team players injured and missing action, shows how strong a coach Pellegrini is. Had the team had more depth with a healthier roster, it is possible that the Hammers could have claimed all 24 points.
Now with relegation not a major threat, Pellegrini will have to make some decisions regarding his battered squad. How aggressive to set up for Saturday’s FA Cup Match with Birmingham? How to set up for Arsenal’s visit in ten days? How will be back healthy by then? It appears that the club is in a good place. This first match of the New Year has the team in 10th place. Managing personnel and making decisions regarding the January transfer window will be the most watched activity in the coming weeks.
Keep checking TheWestHamWay.co.uk for all the latest on transfers and player injuries.
West Ham: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Diop, Cresswell, Obiang, Rice, Snodgrass, Anderson, Arnautovic, Carroll
Subs: Adrian, Noble (63’), Masuaku, Nasri, Diagana, Perez (45’), Antonio (63’)
Brighton: Button, Duffy, Dunk, Stephens, Locadia, Gross, Murray, March, Montoya, Propper, Bernardo
Subs: Steel, Bong (73′), Balogun, Kayal, Bissouma, Knockaert, Andone (82’)