It’s now time to trawl back over some of the main causes of discussion in the wake of last night’s Premier League London Stadium draw between David Moyes’ West Ham United and Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Place, as the Hammers were able to keep their mightily impressive recent home record under Moyes intact.
Noble Nets Landmark Goal
West Ham Captain Mark Noble enjoyed a very special night indeed in Stratford yesterday evening for so many different reasons, as the milestones and accolades continue to be etched next to his name in recent weeks.
Having made it to 300 Premier League appearances in an away victory at Stoke City in December, a match in which he also netted his 49th Hammers strike, it would only be a matter of time before he made it to 50.
And this would come against Crystal Palace, after Referee Neil Swarbrick pointed to the penalty spot in the wake of a late challenge by James Tomkins on Javier Hernandez.
The Skipper stepped up coolly and in trademark fashion, sending Wayne Hennessey the wrong way, calmly passing the ball into the bottom corner of the net to raise the roof on London Stadium.
The strike eventually gave the Irons a vital point in the complexion of the fight for survival, something that teams up to ninth place are also involved in, moving his side up to tenth.
Noble is currently the 16th highest appearance maker for the club, having signed as a boy, making his debut in 2005 and being made Skipper at the start of the 2015/2016 season.
Aside from reaching the millstone, the midfielder also put in a Man of the Match display, being pipped to the award, just, by fellow central man Cheikhou Kouyate.
To many, Noble looks an entirely new player under the guidance of his new Manager and continues to set the example, comfortably into his 30s, in the words of his Boss, “Long may it continue”, they will both be hoping it does so at the weekend on the South Coast.
Injury-Hit Hammers Maintain Unbeaten League Run
With 12 first-team stars still not up to full match fitness, or indeed suspended, on the day of the clash, a draw is a result that any member of the Claret & Blue army would have undoubtedly taken.
But, the draw was significant, not just in propelling the Hammers into the top-half for the first time in the 2017/2018 campaign, also in keeping several impressive runs up.
Perhaps the most compelling of them all is the statistic that for the first time since 1874, the East Londoners have avoided defeat in the first five matches of a calendar year in the Top-Flight.
However, it doesn’t end there, Moyes’ boys are unbeaten in six Premier League games and have only lost once in their last ten in the League, in the ten matches before that, they had been on the losing side on six occasions.
Furthermore, at London Stadium, Moyes has only lost once in eight in all Competitions since taking over from Slaven Bilic in November of 2017, all of which has been achieved in the midst of a cruel injury crisis.
The above stands as paper evidence of the magnitude of the job that the Scotsman has been able to complete, defying his sceptics week on week since arriving in East London.
He will know that the job of Top-Flight survival is far from done, with such teams as Hodgson’s Palace, who moved up one position to 12th with the stalemate, lurking just behind.
But, now that the injury list is beginning to decrease in size, coupled with whatever business he may be able to get done in the hours that remain of the January Transfer Window, it’s not hard to see that the future is looking bright for Moyes’ Irons.
Mario Impresses On Full Debut
While most of the attention was on Noble’s achievements in East London, one man who also impressed, earning rave reviews from many was new signing, on loan from Inter Milan, Joao Mario.
Having only finalised his move from Italy to East London on Friday afternoon, the Portugal International played 45 minutes of Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup Fourth-Round defeat to League One Wigan Athletic.
And, he was thrown into the deep end once again on Tuesday, making his home and full debut by being included in the starting Xl, but slotted in perfectly, not looking a jot out of place in English Football.
Figuring just behind Chicharito, the pair linked well on several occasions and Mario always looked a threat to the visitors’ goal, even assisting Hernandez to win the penalty with some excellent strength and vision.
Had it not been for the performances of Noble and Kouyate, he would have in all likelihood been a strong contender for Man of the Match and is clearly enjoying his early level of game time, having been left frustrated with Inter recently.
While grasping the pace of the PL compared to a European League is something that is perceived to be difficult, Mario, a European champion, has seemingly already done it with ease and his fans will be hoping that he can keep it up over the next few weeks, starting with the Saturday trip to face Brighton & Hove Albion.
What Did The Managers Have To Say?
It’s now time to hear from both Managers with what they had to say in their respective post-match Press Conferences at the former Olympic Stadium, which MooreThanJustAClub were fortunate enough to be in.
“I thought at times we played well tonight with what we had available to us and I thought that we deserved to get back in the game”.
“I didn’t actually think that we deserved to go down, I didn’t think that we’d given them many opportunities and they’ve got a really good front line”.
“I thought he (Mario) done really well tonight, I think for someone to come in and go right into a Premier League team, we didn’t have enough to be saying, you’re only going to play 60 minutes or 70 minutes”.
“He didn’t look as if he needed it, he looked as if he was like a Diesel Engine, he looked as if he could get up and down no problem and cover the ground easily, but he certainly played like a really good Footballer tonight. I thought he played very well tonight”.
“I think it was a penalty, from where I was standing, I may have even been sitting at the time because I do a bit of both, it looked from my position that it was a penalty, so I didn’t have any qualms about that”.
“A bit unfortunate, it coming as late as it did, a little bit unfortunate we had that long break with Bakary’s (Sako’s) injury which, I suppose, disturbed our rhythm and concentration”.
“But, no excuses and just congratulations to West Ham for playing well enough to provoke the penalty”.
“There was nothing in the game, the game was played pretty fairly, I mean James Tomkins, unfortunately, caught Hernandez a little bit late, but that was the only tackle in the game that I suppose you could say, that was slightly dodgy one”.
So, now that everything there was to talk about from another positive London Stadium stalemate has been well and truly covered, will there be yet more positive points to draw on come Saturday evening? After Moyes’ boys have paid Chris Hughton’s Brighton a visit at the Amex Stadium.