AFC Bournemouth 1-3 West Ham United
The cherries pulled off a fantastic 4-3 win at the Boleyn ground right at the beginning of the season, so this game was a chance to seek revenge but also climb up the table and put some pressure on the teams above.
This wasn’t our finest performance of the season but sometimes you get a win that perhaps you shouldn’t have got and this game had that sort of feeling. There were a few things that I believe helped us get this win and turn the score line around in our favour.
The first of those is Pedro Obiang, for me he is proving to be a real talent in the centre of the pitch. Going by the recent team selections you can tell that he has been pushing for Bilic to select him in the starting eleven. Now with several impressive games under his belt you really can’t argue with his selection. I thought his game against Bournemouth was good all round, broke up the attacking play from the opposition, held onto the ball to relieve pressure and distributed it well to the more attacking players in our team.
However the real reason I think got us the win is more to do with the people rather than the actual football. The team spirit that is there for all to see, combined with the encouragement from the manager from the sidelines and to add to that the simply amazing support from the fans yet again all came together to maintain our unbeaten run and make it our best for 15 years.
A couple of other points to make from the game starts with the introduction of Carl Jenkinson who was substituted on for James Tomkins around the 60th minute mark. It was a good tactical change again from Bilic as the right back definitely had a good impact on the game. Jenkinson looks to be gaining some confidence back now and is playing better, I would still prefer him starting as for me he offers more in the right back position as he is the natural for that spot, however I wouldn’t completely drop Tomkins I would move him into centre back with Winston Reid.
Michail Antonio since breaking into the team has been a real joy to watch, every game he plays he shows why he deserves his place but also the hunger to improve his individual game. He has an incredible work ethic, running up and down the pitch making use of his blistering speed, power and strength. It was all of them attributes that won the free kicks that ultimately won us the game.
Enner Valencia is a very exciting player to have in our team, recently back from a few long injury breaks I feel it’s really time he starts to show his ability that made us buy him in the first place. His brace was the first time he had scored in the premier league since last February. The goals demonstrated 2 areas of his game, first goal was all about him being able to read how the move could develop and then make the attacking runs accordingly which he done to perfection, as he was in the exact place to meet Payet’s cross. His second goal was just a piece of brilliance, a crazy dipping free kick that left Boruc only watching the ball fly past him. It’s not about him using this game as a platform for him to show this more on a more regular basis.
It seems West Ham are having their very own free kick competition, Mauro Zarate’s fantastic set piece against West Brom seemed hard to beat. However Valencia’s free kick could very well rival that title. Even with these two fine efforts, the current best surely has be Dimitri Payet’s free kick, the curl and placement into the top corner as well as the distance from the goal was just a moment to stop and clap for a bit of genius.
Like I mentioned earlier this was not our best game this season, and a few bad moments show us that. Adrian who has been excellent for us looked to be a fault for the games opener, seemed to have misjudged the ball whether that’s because of the actual shot or that he likes to make his saves a bit more dramatic than they should be, perhaps he should turn down the showboating a little bit. To be fair to him, he did make some important saves later in the game that gave us the chance to win the game.
A sentence that has been said far too much over the past few seasons, Andy Carroll again picked up an injury within the first 15 minutes of the game, a real shame as he has looked sharp and fit recently, but it looks like he may miss quite some time because of it.
It is from that injury that we lost our control on the game, Bournemouth took hold of it and scored during that time to put us in a bad position. And it wasn’t until or first goal that we really took control again, so maybe that’s something to work as scoring first can be a real difference to the theme of the game.
Adrian 6/10 – Poor save in the first half to let them score.
Tomkins 7/10 – Solid game again, was substituted for tactics only.
Collins 6/10 – Both centre backs never really handled Afobe and the attacking players well.
Ogbonna 6/10 – Both centre backs never really handled Afobe and the attacking players well.
Cresswell 7/10 – Good all round game, very consistent player.
Noble 6/10 – Didn’t have much impact on the game, done his bit nothing more.
Obaing 8/10 – Put a lot of energy into the game, starting him proved to be a good call.
Antonio 7/10 – 2 assists, never stopped working and running for the team.
Payet 9/10 – Excellent, a proper talent to lead the team forward.
Jelavic 6/10 – Didn’t really offer much going forward, very few chances if any at all.
Valencia 7/10 – Other than the goals I thought he was pretty quiet, time to step up for him.
Man of the match
This game really only has one candidate, Dimitri Payet is my man of the match. The first half wasn’t great from the team, but Payet continued to create some chances out of nothing even at 1-0 down when we struggled the most. The passes that he made seemed impossible to make but he somehow made them work, the flair he shows when on the ball invites team mates to make them daring forward runs for him to pick out time and time again. The free kick he scored shows the skill he has even on a dead ball. His assist then showed us the skill to beat his man and then pick out a team mate to score. A performance full of everything good about him, and this is after just a few games back, still getting to his full fitness level.
Next game for West Ham is an away trip up north to Newcastle United who are showing some signs of improvement, so we can expect a hard fought game and will be a good test for both teams. With Carroll out through injury, I would like to see Enner Valencia deployed in what seems to be his favoured position, at striker.
It’s now 8 games unbeaten in the league and would be brilliant to be able to continue that further against what is a hugely underperforming Newcastle side. A game that will need our full concentration.