It’s now time to delve deep into the primary points of discussion from Saturday’s gut-wrenching 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park, as Slaven Bilic was placed firmly back under the cosh.
Hammers Concede Late Yet Again To Spoil Bilic’s Afternoon
While many seasoned members of The Claret & Blue army would have claimed to be shocked by conceding in the 97th minute on Saturday afternoon, letting in late goals has become quite the trait for Hammers sides of late.
If conceding the third most goals in The Premier League this season so far wasn’t negative enough, a large proportion of them have been late and four of them have been from the spot, a PL high.
One can call of recent instances like Saturday and this season’s trips to Turf Moor and The St Mary’s Stadium as games that have been marred and points that have been dropped from conceding late.
Meanwhile, games such as Tottenham Hotspur away, West Bromwich Albion at home and Sunderland away, the list goes on, were such examples last season.
But, just why are we throwing away so many winning positions? Inability to defend set-pieces? Inability to defend against pace? Naivety? As will be touched on later.
One man who will certainly be charged with finding out is Slaven Bilic, but just what does the agonising draw mean for him?
The rumours that dominated mainstream Media after the home defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion were of the Croat being given Wednesday’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur and the trip to Selhurst to save his Job.
The sharing of the points meant further uncertainty with a win and a draw, leaving The Owners with a tough choice, but one thing is for sure, Saturday’s visit of Liverpool has now taken on the over-used title of a must-win clash.
Ayew Continues Wondrous Form As Antonio Is Scrutinised
One of the few positives to take from the Matchday Ten’s disappointment was the continuation of the form of Andre Ayew’s West Ham United Career, that saw him make it five goals in all Competitions for the campaign.
Having netted twice in Wednesday’s remarkable comeback Carabao Cup victory over Spurs, the Ghanaian scored what was undoubtedly his best goal in Claret & Blue.
Picking up the ball from an Edimilson Fernandes tackle, Ayew ran cleverly at Palace’s Scott Dann before unleashing a thunderous strike that buried into Julian Speroni’s top right-hand corner.
Apart from the strike, the forward put in another hard graft and has cemented his starting place under Bilic.
His goal was also accompanied by a clever finish from Javier Hernandez, as the Mexican was on hand to finish a superb team move for our first on 31 minutes and put in a similarly impressive showing.
But, one man who certainly isn’t impressing at the moment is substitute at Selhurst Park and 2016/2017 Hammer of the Year Michail Antonio.
The winger, who missed the Wembley trip with a bruised rib, was substituted on for Pablo Zabaleta in the 62nd minute to protect the lead at right wing-back.
With less than ten seconds remaining, Antonio had the ball in a threatening position and only needed to keep it in the corner to see out the match, but instead decided to cross it poorly.
The delivery was easily dealt with and Roy Hodgson’s men were able to break quickly and level up, causing the forward to be criticised by many.
Despite this not being the first time that we have been let down by individual errors in recent times, Antonio’s “Non-League naivety” was blamed and his 2017/2018 struggle continues.
With more injuries and mistakes than goals to his name this season, he now has a point to prove to The Claret & Blue Army and will need to improve rapidly in the next few games.
Questionable Refereeing Display Puts Madley Under Fire
Following a string of contentious decisions from Referee Bobby Madley at Selhurst Park, the Englishman was another to be widely questioned for his performance.
While the home fans raged about a possible penalty for a foul from Jose Fonte on Wilfried Zaha in the first period, we had queries of our own starting early in the second-half.
There is no doubt that not every Referee would have given Angelo Ogbonna’s challenge on Andros Townsend as a penalty, but it was a specific incident later on that angered most Hammers.
As we broke looking to open up a two-goal cushion, Chicharito was involved in an altercation former player James Tomkins, with Madley awarding only a free-kick against the home side.
On closer inspection, the centre-back appeared to have his arms wrapped around the neck of the Mexican, a possible red card perhaps?
One that would have certainly alerted the course of the match, were we denied all three points by poor Officiating?
Man Of The Match Hart Puts Adrian Back In His Place
It would be very much a case of anything you can do, I can do better for Joe Hart in South London, as he followed Adrian San-Miguel’s superb showing in midweek with a Man of the Match performance of his own.
The England No1 was on incredible form to make more than several world-class stops starting with a magnificent double save to deny first Tomkins and then Jeff Schlupp in the first period.
Hart would then go on to save brilliantly from a powerful Zaha effort and push away a magnificent free-kick from Yohan Cabaye, keeping us ahead at vital points in the tie.
If that wasn’t enough, the former Manchester City shot-stopper would top all of his previous efforts with a fingertip to yet another Tomkins header, tipping it on to the bar.
If not going a long way to silencing both his Domestic and International critics and those who prefer his Spanish teammate, Hart’s showing may also have, in a way, saved pivotal points in an affair where the home side only scored two of nine shots on target.
So, now that we have well and truly covered everything there was to pick at after Saturday’s unbelievable frustration in South London, will we be drawing on more positive points come Saturday evening? After The Reds have visited The London Stadium in a crucial encounter.