It’s now time to trawl back over some of the main causes of discussion in the wake of yesterday afternoon’s London Stadium defeat to Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United, as David Moyes lost his unbeaten home record in Claret & Blue.
Hammers Defence Crumbles After Solid Form
A run of three consecutive League clean sheets for the Claret & Blue back five duly came to an end with Saturday’s defeat, having shut out Chelsea, Arsenal and Stoke City in recent weeks.
Just when the Claret & Blue Army thought that shoddy defensive showings were a thing of the past and namely the Slaven Bilic era, clear errors could be seen in all three of the away side’s goals.
The first came just after the hosts had taken the lead as Henri Saivet struck a free-kick from range that buried in Adrian San-Miguel’s near corner on the ten-minute mark.
Undoubtedly, potential questions could have been asked about the keeper’s positioning and that of the wall, however. much clearer mistakes could be seen as the Magpies took the lead in the second-half.
Ex-Hammer Mo Diame was left free by several defenders in the middle of the box to finish high into the net after a Christian Atsu cross from the left wasn’t cut out.
Their third strike was also littered with lapses at the back as Arthur Masuaku and Pablo Zabaleta got in the way of each other to gift the ball to Dwight Gayle on the counter-attack.
He found Atsu who exchanged passes with substitute Joselu and made space to slot past Adrian, the former Bournemouth man had the freedom of the Hammers boss when he slotted home.
This was down to few players in Claret & Blue were able to get back to defend the goal at the speed the Magpies were able to attack it, with the likes of Cheikhou Kouyate and Winston Reid earning criticism for their roles.
Many fans are now calling for a defensive shake up with a mixture of youth and experience coming into the team in the form of Declan Rice and James Collins, but the confidence is sure to have dropped among the defenders after such a positive patch.
However, even if the back four have shown a great deal of improvement under Moyes, there is no doubt that they have been the biggest contributor to the side sitting in 17th position for Christmas.
Mixed Afternoon For Ayew
It would be a particularly up and down encounter for one particular West Ham United striker as he made a rare Premier League start, earning very mixed reviews yesterday.
This man was, of course, Andre Ayew who managed to keep his place in the starting Xl in the wake of Wednesday’s draw at the Emirates Stadium with Arsenal.
After a quiet first-half at the London Stadium, Ayew was plunged right into the drama at the start of the second period when Michail Antonio was fouled by Ciaran Clark and Referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot.
It would be the Ghanaian to step up, never quite looking comfortable standing over the ball and having his poor effort saved by Magpies keeper Robert Elliot, diving away to his left.
However, he was able to make up for things by pouncing on the rebound of an Andy Carroll header to pull one back later in the game and set up an interesting finish.
But, there is little doubting that the spot-kick, however, overshadowed his overall performance and with the wealth of options already available to his Manager in that area, may have also jeopardised his place in the team for the coming weeks.
Arnautovic Shines Despite Defeat
One huge positive to take from the narrow Stratford loss was surely the showing of club-record signing Marko Arnautovic as he continued his meteoric rise to becoming a new fan favourite.
The Austria man, who is winging his way to superstardom in Claret & Blue, netted his third goal in the space of four games after six minutes of the affair in spectacular circumstances.
Arnautovic picked up the ball whilst still on his own half and looking to break and ran the length of the field in duel with Clark, who he was eventually able to beat and slot the ball into the corner past Elliot.
He once again celebrated with the fans using a crossed Hammers gesture, raising the roof in Stratford, aside from that the Austrian respected his defensive duties well and worked very hard in patrolling the wing.
Arnautovic stands as a clear example of the changes of the Moyes era but surely must keep up his superb form to continue to pay back his £25 million price tag starting with the Boxing Day trip to the South Coast.
What Did The Managers Have To Say?
Let’s hear from both Managers with their thoughts on the thrilling affair speaking in their respective Post-Match Press Conferences at the former Olympic Stadium, which MooreThanJustAClub were lucky enough to be in.
“A totally error-strewn game, I think they would probably say that about the first goal, but we should have capitalised, I think the first goal today was always going to be important”.
“We made big mistakes for the first goal, there is an offside in the second goal as well which I think the Linesman should give, but overall, I can’t blame anybody but ourselves really”.
“We didn’t perform well enough, we made mistakes throughout the game and even when we do get a chance at 2-1 to get back in it, we miss a penalty-kick as well”.
“So, disappointed, but I think it will happen, a lot of the teams that are going to play each other in the bottom to mid-end of the Table, I think a lot of the games will be quite similar”.
“I think it’s a great day for our fans, our players, for everyone because we have been working so hard for so many games”.
“Today, the way that the team was fighting for every single ball, working so hard and hitting the post, the crossbar, it was this kind of day, the penalty that was outside the box, all these things can go against you”.
“It’s difficult when you have a bad run, but we were analysing every single game, it was really important for us to win and we were close to having a good performance like today against a good team”.
“When they were playing at the beginning with the pace they have, the pace that they have up-front and after at the end with the long balls and second balls, you have to deal with all these things and I think we did well”.
So, now that everything there was to discuss after Saturday’s London Stadium disappointment have been well and truly covered, will there be more positive points to draw on come Boxing Day afternoon? When Moyes’ boys pay Eddie Howe’s Cherries a festive visit.