After four matches in all competitions, Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United’s unbeaten run came to an end at the American Express Community Stadium last night, with a frustrating 1-0 Premier League defeat to Chris Hughton’s Brighton & Hove Albion. Today, we look back at five Massive Moments from the keenly-contested encounter.
Our first Massive Moment is slightly less conventional, in terms of our usual post-match Massive Moments, as it occurred before the match, before the day of the match and even before the week of the match.
In fact, it came on the day of last Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Manchester United at London Stadium, for the Hammers, and lies in the mentality and ill-fated confidence taken from the fantastic result.
It was not hard to see that, when proceedings got underway on the south coast, the Irons were expecting a victory and to go into the International break unbeaten since the last one, both from the point of view of the supporters and the players.
Naming an unchanged starting Xl and the same formation, the attitude was one of complacency, as aforementioned, on the pitch and in the away end and it cost West Ham dearly, as they suffered a costly defeat and a setback in their recovery from a poor start.
The Seagulls got off to the better start in the game and while the visitors did expect to dominate all the match statistics and they did, they failed to match the intensity of the home side and trailed for much of the match, having a state of mind that they must learn from and avoid in the future, when approaching these kind of games.
Murray’s Key Block
You will be relieved to find out that all of our Massive Moments from here on out in this analysis involve the actual football that was played in the chilly south-coast conditions, including our second one.
While it has been noted that the home side enjoyed the better start on home soil, there was a spell early on, around the 12-16-minute period, that the Hammers were on top and looked like they were going to break the deadlock.
It was in this spell that they came ever so close to doing so and the away side would have, had it not been for the intervention of eventual goal-scorer for the hosts and veteran striker, Glenn Murray.
On a run of winning corner-after-corner, club-record signing delivered one to the edge of the area, it was originally meant to reach Andriy Yarmolenko, but star man Marko Arnautovic had peeled away and struck a volley goal-bound and on target.
With Mat Ryan rooted to his line, the ball was destined for the right-hand bottom corner, but Murray was there to put his body in the way and deflect the ball out for a corner, this vital block stopped a certain goal and the game following a very different path, indeed.
Murray Poaches Seagulls Ahead
After he saved a goal at one end, the former Crystal Palace man, Murray, was to score one at the other end midway through the first half, forming our third Massive Moment and the biggest of the game.
For the opening 25 minutes and for the whole match, in fact, the backline of the visitors looked to be weak and easily-exposed, something that the Seagulls had discovered just minutes earlier.
On that occasional, Solly March had got himself in an excellent position, choosing to shoot over Lukasz Fabianski’s crossbar, instead of crossing to Murray, in a much better position.
This time, it was Beram Kayal racing down the left wing and delivering a cross that should have been easily dealt with, but both Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop had been drawn to the near post, leaving left-back Arthur Masuaku marking Murray.
He left the Englishman to wheel away to the centre of the six-yard box and glance the ball into the far corner on the half-volley, no chance for the goalkeeper, the home side had seized a key advantage, one they would look to cling on to for the entirety.
Bruno’s Defensive Intervention
From the moment Brighton broke the deadlock, the better of the attacking play came from the players in Claret & Blue, as they began their 75+-minute conquest for an equaliser, leading us to our next Massive Moment.
Pellegrini’s men would never find that leveller, being left to rue how things could have been so different at the Amex after a series of missed opportunities, the first of which came just before the break.
West Ham had started to find their mojo in the final third, leading to their best chance of the half, the kind of cutting-edge attacking play that had seen them record three victories in the last four matches, including the 8-0 Carabao Cup thrashing of Macclesfield Town.
Anderson, the centre of most of the visitors’ play, picked up the ball on the left side and spotted the clever run of Pablo Zabaleta to the back post, picking him out, he dragged it back into the path of Arnautovic.
The Austrian was about to strike home from close-range, before 38-year-old captain Bruno stole in and made a goal-saving block, the balling falling back to Pedro Obiang, who could only fire over, despite the veteran’s brilliance, it was a miss to rue for the East Londoners.
Arnautovic’s Last-Gasp Miss
While we are on the topic of misses to rue, here’s our fifth and final Massive Moment and it’s one that West Ham fans would have been having nightmares about on Friday night.
What made the guilt-edged opportunity more shocking and unexpected to all viewers of the Sky Live Friday Night Football was the player who missed it, the ever-reliable top-scorer in East London, Arnautovic.
It just wasn’t the once club-record signing’s evening and in spite of his strong all-around display, he was misfiring in attack, on the rare occasion that his teammates were able to find the right final ball.
Of his spurned openings, this was by far the worst as substitute Lucas Perez was played in on the by-line by his fellow sub Robert Snodgrass in an eye-catching team move, to play Arnautovic, just yards out and in space.
The Austria man snapped at his shot with his weaker-foot, sending it sailing into the horrified travelling Claret & Blue Army, who let out a huge groan, in the 90th-minute. That was the last chance of note and those fans knew that they were going to have to settle for a first defeat in just over a month.
So, now that all the key Massive Moments from a night to forget for everyone associated with West Ham in the rain on the south coast, have been well and truly analysed, will we have more positive Massive Moments to reflect on come the other side of the International break, after Tottenham Hotspur have visited London Stadium? Join us once again, after that one, to find out.