Match Report – Wolves
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 28 September 2020 at 1:05pm
Written by: Harry Fitzpatrick
Jarrod Bowen bagged a brace as West Ham cruised to a 4-0 win over a Wolves side that were simply played off the park. Moyes opted for the same formation as the Arsenal match, with Balbuena for Diop being the only change. The game started slowly with neither side creating any chances for the first 15 minutes until a brilliant bit of quick thinking from Fornals set up Bowen for the opener. It started with Rice winning the ball on the edge of the West Ham box and playing a long ball up to Antonio, who was fouled by Boly. Whilst those two wrestled on the floor, Pablo Fornals took the free kick quickly, playing a lovely ball up to Jarrod Bowen. Bowen toyed with his defender before cutting onto his left foot and producing a curling finish that Yarmolenko would be proud of. A lot of credit must be given to Martin Atkinson for allowing the free kick to be taken so quickly, although Wolves may argue the ball was moving when it was taken.
From there, the Hammers started to pile on the pressure. They nearly grabbed a second in the 30th minute when Antonio’s looping cross was met by the onrushing Soucek whose powerful header was spectacularly saved by Patricio. A scramble in the box ensued and a looping cross from Bowen was headed clear before Antonio could smash home. The Irons were truly dominating, with Wolves’ first shot on target coming in the 37th minute. A looping header from Jimenez was easily claimed by Fabianski after a corner. More spectacular hold up play from Antonio led to a powerful drive that Patricio could only parry to Fornals who looked destined to follow up his earlier assist with a goal, however he skied his shot from 7 yards whilst an empty net lay front of him in the 43rd.
Half time followed with West Ham 1-0 up and controlling the game. It was a fantastic half which justified Moyes’ team selection, but the game was far from over with the players Wolves possess.
The second half started badly when Fredericks went down injured in the 48th minute. He was forced off after a very solid performance with the youngster Ben Johnson his replacement. The need for a new right back may have just been increased even more. Wolves looked to take advantage of this and built up some pressure with pretty passing, however in the 57th minute West Ham countered. Cresswell nicked the ball off Jimenez and curled a long pass down the left wing to Antonio who carried the ball down the line before passing inside to Fornals. The young Spaniard cracked an effort of the post and it was Bowen who reacted quickest to tap home. It was a real sucker punch for Wolves who would have felt they’d edged the second half up to then.
This brought a real air of confidence to the Hammers, with a sumptuous outside of the boot flick from Rice allowing Masuaku to cross for Bowen who should have scored his first hat-trick in claret and blue. From the resulting corner Soucek showed Bowen how it’s done, firing a header past Patricio via a deflection at the near post in the 66th minute. Credit must go to Cresswell’s delivery which was inch perfect for the big Czech, and it will undoubtably be a big disappointment to Soucek that credit for his goal was given to Jiminez as an own goal.
This was game over and West Ham seemed happy for Wolves to pass the ball around 40 yards from goal. They offered minimal threat and the back three comfortably snuffed out any hint of a Wolves chance. Fabianski was virtually a passenger. Nuno tried to bring the Wanderers back into the game with three substitutions, one of them being a surprising withdrawal of the dangerous Adama Traore. Masuaku and Cresswell combined to keep the Spaniard quiet in a very impressive display.
Despite being at home, Moyes still ensured no tactical subs were made until late when Haller and Noble were brought on in the 88th minute for Bowen and Antonio. If a crowd had been allowed in the London Stadium they’d have been cheered off like heroes. The pair were faultless.
Haller played like a man who wanted to prove his worth and showed a great work ethic. He was rewarded with the 4th goal in the 92nd minute. After good build up play the ball fell to Rice on the edge of the box, who passed out left to Masuaku. Arthur got the assist his performance deserved as Haller headed at the back post and back across Patricio. It capped a perfect night for the Hammers and showed Moyes that Haller deserves more than 5-minute cameos in the league.
In terms of individual performances, no one disappointed. Balbuena looked solid in his second start since January, Rice and Soucek dominated the midfield, the full backs were dangerous going forward and gave up little at the back whilst the front 3 caused Wolves constant problems. Bowen was awarded Man of the Match, but it could easily have been given to Antonio. Everything going forward went through him and the way he bullied the Wolves centre backs you’d be forgiven for thinking it was their youth team.
Suddenly, the clouds seem to be clearing a little over the London Stadium.