Sunday, September 2

Late agony as Wolves devour tepid Hammers

West Ham 0 Wolves 1

It’s in to the Best Café with daughter Nell for egg chips and beans. They’ve even reprinted the menus so they say Stratford instead of “Stradford”. We’re joined by Matt and Lisa, fresh from watching the WHU kids win at Little Heath and Michael, planning a trip to Hornchurch’s Queen’s Theatre to see Abigail’s Party after the match. Nigel clearly knows something we don't and is away in the land of Joey O'Brien.

We take Matt’s short cut via alleyways and tower blocks to the London Stadium. Early on Anderson has a shot saved by Patricio’s legs, but after the first ten minutes the Irons are overcome by a strange torpor. Fredericks starts to play balls straight to the opposition, Antonio doesn’t look like he’s fully over his injuries  and Anderson is misplacing passes and running into tackles. There’s a Snodgrass effort into the side netting and Fabianski has to palm over an effort from Doherty and that’s about it.

Yarmolenko comes on for Snoddy in the second half and there’s a slight improvement as the Ukranian crosses for Antonio’s header to be palmed on to the bar by Patricio. But in the strong sun (Scott the hat man has to lend me a cap — who booked these season tickets?) the game starts to resemble a slow-paced pre-season friendly.

But there are ominous signs of the men in gold being hungry like the Wolves. Fabianski has to dive on Doherty’s header and then produces a great save with his feet from Bonatini. Wolves’ Jiminez also falls over his feet when he looks likely to score.

Obiang comes on for Wilshere and fizzes a low drive wide, but there’s no spark from the £36m Anderson, who looks a completely different player to the livewire performer at Arsenal and can’t seem to beat a man anymore. Matt suggests that he’s not yet used to two and a half games in a week.

West Ham nearly nick it at the end as Arnautovic does really well to cut inside his man and his fierce shot is saved by the face of Patricio.

Wolves’ sub Traore provides a few scares with his speed but by the 93rd minute I’m thinking that at least a point will mean we have something on the board and that Balbuena and Diop have started to look like a decent defensive partnership and have made some great tackles.

But then rather than respecting the point, Sanchez, who has otherwise been steady, dawdles and loses possession. Cresswell can’t keep up with Traore and the winger fires low into the corner. It’s the hope we can’t take…

“What is it about West Ham? We can change the ground, the players and the manager but it’s still always the same…” muses Alison in a cry of existential anguish. No-one can move at the final whistle as we sit there in stupefaction.

David Moyes must be having a wry grin, as he had at least installed a little more intensity in the squad. Now we appear to be going backwards again.

Finally we stumble towards Stratford as the mood is lightened a little by Fraser wondering if the souvenir seller has a half and half scarf for Declan Rice. Result of the day is discovering that Wetherspoon’s pub the Golden Goose sells Portobello pale ale at £2 a pint. We’re joined by Gavin and Ilona and perpetual optimist Dan, who has a bet on Arnie to score a hat-trick and West Ham to win 5-0 before every game. Michael leaves early for Abigail’s Party, which presumably goes terribly wrong in the 93rd minute.

We last lost our first four games in the relegation season of Avram Grant. Pellegrini and his players have to find some answers and soon.

PLAYER RATINGS: Fabianski 7; Fredericks 4, Balbuena 6, Diop 7, Cresswell 5; Antonio 5 (Hernandez 5), Wilshere 4 (Obiang 6), Sánchez 5, Snodgrass 4 (Yarmolenko 5) Anderson 4; Arnautovic 6.


Mj said...

Spot on regarding the shambles. The board were scared to keep moyes because of the fans. We badly need a striker and a change of formation. Wonder what Ginge would have done with the ball in the 93rd minute?

Pete May said...

Row Z! Though not entirely Sanchez's fault as Cresswell was very slow to spot Traore breaking. Wilshere needs to pay further up if he is to supply the strikers. We still haven't really tried Arnie and Hernandez together though we have to sort out the midfield to do that. At least we have a break now…