West Ham have never won their first three games in the Premier League but with 2 down and a 0 point Palace rolling into town, things were looking good for another small piece of history this weekend. Not to mention the chance to remain top of the league through the International break.
Getting into the ground was considerably easier this time around, but getting there 90 minutes before kick off helps !
We started with the same 11 as Monday, and on paper were going to be too strong for the opposition. And that’s the way a pretty dull game played out in the first half. We attacked a lot, they didn’t. They started with a back 5, so we pushed 2 up top, and Declan sat deep. After 15 minutes they changed to a four, and we didn’t. Declan Rice was effectively a reverse sweeper which allowed Palace to hold firm with 2 banks of 4. It was going to be a long day. Palace had a lot of mistakes in them , they passed the ball out of play at least 3 or 4 times in the first half. Then, just before half time Antonio and Fornals interchanged a few passes that allowed Fornals to take an easy finish. All the quality was in the build up. One nil half time.
I expected the second half to be more of the same, but it opened up a bit, and Palace didnt give any ground at all. What did surprise me was Declan Rice. He was shocking positionally and in possession, and that effected the whole team. It all seemed a little off balance. Then Dawson did a Dawson and lost an easy ball to let Benteke go unopposed into our box, which luckily went out for a corner. But it raised the opponents spirits, and they kept pressing and Gallaher was rewarded with a goal, that seemed to be a mix of him getting stuck in and the defence and Fab getting in each other’s way. Last season Fabianski saves that.
So we go again, and go we did, with Antonio getting a fortunate bounce off him turning the defender and letting fly from just inside the box to put us 2-1 up and on our way to 9 points. And his 50th Prem goal was celebrated with a Nolan chicken dance if I’m not mistaken ! Happy days.
The we sat back and Gallgher got a second straight after with a Antonio like finish following a good pass from McArthur
Palace probably thought they should have won from there on , and were unlucky with a header near time.
But 3 games unbeaten, top of the league on goal difference and a 2 week break. The draw between Chelsea and Liverpool makes today harder to stomach, but in reality we got away with one.
So what happened ? We looked bereft of ideas for most of the game, and as already mentioned Rice was out of sorts. Has all this transfer noise got to him. Does he really want out ? Moyes took credit for the first game with his rousing half time speech. Maybe he should have done the same today, but he said the players didnt play to his or their own standards, and he has a point. The lack of influential subs showed today, so Lingard has to be a priority over the next 3 days. Assuming Zouma turns up, he goes straight in for Dawson and maybe another centre back should come in as well. A striker has been a priority for about 3 years so probably no change there come September 1st. A change in goal keeper might be a good shout. Fab has made several key errors this season already and we have good cover on the bench.
I also think Zaha is going to have a long season as all the little free kicks he used to get have now gone away with the new refereeing directives, so his moaning quotient has gone up another level, which is always entertaining.
MOTM Fornals again. Always availble and when allowed today, played to his normal level, unfortunatley those oppotunities didnt come round enough.
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