West Ham put four goals past Joe Hart’s Burnley at the London Stadium on Saturday, to pick up their first win in five matches.
The Hammers took an early lead through Marko Arnautovic. The Austrian latched onto a poor backpass from James Tarkowski, before striking the ball past Hart. After dominating for large periods of the first half, Manuel Pellegrini’s side were pegged back on the stroke of half-time, when Johann Berg Gudmundsson slid an effort past Lukasz Fabianski.
West Ham went back in front midway through the second half, following a low, left-footed drive from Felipe Anderson. Just 10 minutes later, though, Chris Wood rose highest from a corner to level the score again for the Clarets. However, Anderson netted his second goal of the game with just six minutes left on the clock. Chicharito made it 4-2 to the Irons in stoppage time.
Analysing West Ham defensively
Pellegrini, thankfully, reverted back to a similar back four to the one that has been very assured in recent weeks, after making changes to the line-up against Spurs in midweek. The only change to the impressive defence that faced Leicester last weekend was Aaron Cresswell for Arthur Masuaku at left-back. There are many Hammers fans that would argue that Cresswell is the better full-back.
Cresswell put in a decent defensive performance, without providing too much of an offensive threat at the other end. He added some stability on the left and allowed Anderson to roam forward and focus less on his defensive duties.
Pablo Zabaleta did a similar job at right-back. The experienced defender has already developed a good partnership with Grady Diangana in front of him, as the pair supported each other well at either end of the field. Zabaleta had a good game, but allowed Charlie Taylor to beat him and cross too easily at 3-2. His contribution of two tackles, five clearances, and three successful aerial duels played a part in the Irons’ victory.
Although the two goals conceded doesn’t reflect well on the West Ham centre-backs, Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena were both solid, on the whole, in open play. It was from set-pieces where the duo struggled to contain Burnley. In some ways, that is to be expected against Sean Dyche’s physical side. This is an area where the Hammers must improve, though.
During the game, Diop made three tackles, three interceptions, six clearances, and two blocks. Arguably, he put in the better display of the two central defenders as the pair won eight aerial duels combined. Clarets forward Sam Vokes, however, won 14 by himself, showing precisely what Diop and Balbuena came up against.
Analysing West Ham offensively
West Ham showed great character to rally themselves not once but twice after Burnley pulled themselves back late on. It looked like another one of those days where chance after chance would be thrown away and victory let slip. Fortunately, they found a clinical edge towards the end of the 90 minutes.
Marko Arnautovic led the line well and put a shift in for his side. The Austrian’s tenacity was rewarded early on, as he forced Tarkowski into a defensive error, before nipping in to put the East Londoners 1-0 up. One criticism of the forward could be that he dropped far too deep and attempted too much at times. His performance was crucial in gaining the victory, though.
Impact with the ball
Out on the right-hand side Diangana, once again, put in a promising display. The youngster is far from the finished article, but his enthusiasm and confidence in possession is certainly admirable. Although he may have lost possession nine times, the winger more than made up for it with 12 successful dribbles. He is one to keep an eye on, for sure.
Anderson got a much-needed injection of confidence in the second half of the game. There are still question marks over his work-rate. Nevertheless, the Brazilian clearly has an awful lot of ability, which ultimately secured the three points for the Hammers. Anderson had a game-high 103 touches, made 78 passes, and completed seven dribbles, to go alongside his brace. There is still room for improvement, but this was much more like it.
Robert Snodgrass didn’t really gain the credit he deserved for his performance, as he took on the midfield enforcer role in Mark Noble’s absence. The Scot was everywhere on the pitch, as he put in another one of his workmanlike displays. But Snodgrass didn’t just do that on Saturday. He was also the man tasked with linking up the play between the midfield and attack. The midfielder had 78 touches, played 63 passes, and made five dribbles.
It was great to see Chicharito get himself back on the scoresheet late on, following some good work by Michail Antonio. Hopefully, that will give him the confidence he needs to make himself a useful option up front for Pellegrini.
In reality, the win should have been secured far more easily, but the result was more important. Aside from a few problems when defending set-pieces and balls into the box, West Ham defended stoutly against Burnley. They should take plenty of positives.
The Irons should have had the game finished by half-time and could quite easily have scored six. To score four goals will give the side a bit more belief in the final third going forward, but they simply must be more clinical. It may seem a bit harsh to talk about the negatives because any victory in the Premier League is hard to come by, but the Clarets were extremely poor and there are tougher games around the corner.
In the end, though, the three points are ultimately all that matters. West Ham face Huddersfield away next weekend, where another win should be expected.