Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United ended a four-game winless run in all competitions on Saturday afternoon when they defeated Sean Dyche’s Burnley 4-2 at London Stadium in the Premier League. Join us today as we analyse Five Massive Moments from the one-sided encounter.
Arnautovic Returns In Style
Our first Massive Moment would arrive just ten minutes into a contest dominated by one team in East London and would involve a returning player keen to build on his tally of four club goals for the season so far.
This player was, of course, star man for the hosts, Marko Arnautovic, who had missed out on starting in a draw away at Leicester City and a Carabao Cup Round Four defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, with an illness, but was now back to full match fitness.
He started on an afternoon of remembrance in Stratford, and it wouldn’t be long before he made his mark on the game in trademark style, despite still playing through the pain barrier of a knee injury that has been bothering him for much of the campaign.
A flick from youngster Grady Diangana looking for Arnautovic fell to Ashley Westwood of the Clarets, he calmly played the ball back to central defender James Tarkowski, but as soon as he took a heavy touch facing his own goal, the Austrian was on to him.
Arnautovic swooped in like an eagle on its pray and stole the ball from the England man, from here, only one thing was going to happen as the talisman made it five for the season by calmly slotting past ex-Hammers teammate Joe Hart. The goal sent the Claret & Blue Army into raptures and laid the foundations for a dominant afternoon.
Gudmundsson Shocks London Stadium
While many did predict Pellegrini’s men to go ahead early on before the match had started, our second Massive Moment was one nobody was expecting, one that came entirely out of the blue on the stroke of half-time, shocking London Stadium.
Before and after the opening goal, the half had belonged to one team and one team only, the hosts, looking set for their third Premier League win of the season and second at home.
They had gone close through the likes of eventual match-winner and Man of the Match Felipe Anderson and the aforementioned Arnautovic. At the other end, with the largely luckless front three of Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Sam Vokes and Aaron Lennon, Burnley had offered next to nothing.
This was until the 45th minute when a rare counter-attack they had launched infiltrated a previously stern Hammers midfield and found its way to Ashley Westwood, who had only a couple of defenders and Icelandic International Gudmundsson in front of him.
The ex-Aston Villa man’s perfect pass picked him out and with Lukasz Fabianski charging at him, all Gudmundsson had to do was poke it underneath him and in. Not even the Pole, at the start of the day the ‘keeper with the most saves in the league alongside Hart, could save the pinpoint shot and Burnley were level with their first goal since 6 October, to the shock of everyone in Stratford.
Anderson Fires West Ham Back Ahead
Being stunned with a matter of seconds of normal time remaining in the first half, would have been enough to knock the confidence of any team and lead to a more even start to the second half, but the home side still showed great character. This led to our third Massive Moment.
The beginning of the second period was nothing like the first period as the Clarets started to show signs of following up on their undeserved lead, after all, prior to the match, West Ham were the team with the most PL points lost from winning positions in 2018/2019.
The main reason for this worrying stat was their alarming amount of missed chances and Pellegrini’s team had already squandered a fair few on the day, would it be a familiar tale of frustration for the East Londoners? It looked like it, prior to minute 68.
A sign that the Clarets were much more of a threat after the break was that the Irons had to counter-attack to retake the lead, but this was something they could do to great effect and had shown that since the start of their maiden season under their new manager.
It was simple for the Hammers, who had still threatened a fair deal themselves in the first 22 minutes of the half, Arnautovic to Diangana, Diangana to Anderson and goal. The 20-year-old of the trio had taken the bullet of a rash Tarkowski challenge to assist Anderson as he slotted the ball through the legs of Hart and into the bottom corner with his weaker foot, making the scoreline 2-1 with his second goal in Claret & Blue.
Super Sub Wood Restores Parity Against Run Of Play
Surely that was going to be that in terms of resistance from the gritty players of Dyche? The Hammers had rightfully and deservedly gone back in front and given their dominance, would be able to hold onto this lead? Our penultimate Massive Moment answered those questions.
This term so far had taught Irons supporters that their team weren’t truly safe until they had at least a two or three goal lead and having already been bitten once in the match after looking to be cruising while ahead, they were never going to relax until their team scored again.
And the hosts had chances to do so, helped by the introduction of Javier Hernandez from the substitutes’ bench, though, as the final ten minutes approached, the Clarets were about to score against the run of play, once again.
The Lancashire outfit had been aided by their own substitutions which saw strikers Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood enter the field of play, both players have an exemplary record against West Ham, the latter with three goals in his last two appearances against them.
Make that four in three as the New Zealand International Wood struck in the 77th minute to restore unlikely parity for the second time over the course of the 90 minutes. He rose highest from a corner to head past Fabianski and Aaron Cresswell on the line and crank up the heat on the home side in their own stadium.
Anderson Saves Hammers By Completing Brace
With 13 minutes and whatever stoppage-time there would be, left, the pressure was well and truly on the Hammers to avoid dropping more points from a winning position and find their first victory in any competition since late-September.
This frantic search for what would undoubtedly be the winner, with the visitors now looking like more of a threat than they had done all afternoon, would create our final Massive Moment. It would arrive seven minutes later, to the relief of the majority of London Stadium.
It was ironic that the man, record summer arrival Anderson, who had been thought to be one of the Hammers’ main downfalls in their four matches without a win, would turn out to be the man who got the decisive goal to, along with his other crucial strike, secure the three points.
Despite already scoring twice, the hosts had enjoyed little luck in the final third, hitting the woodwork and forcing Hart and a number of defenders into heroic late evasive action to save goals throughout the match. Their luck changed on 84, when Arnautovic teed up Anderson and his tame low effort was deflected beyond Hart and in, by the boot of Ben Mee, for his brace.
The pure joy and elation around the stadium could be felt, in spite of the nervy ending that would lay in wait. The visitors almost did it again, Wood heading over a wonderful opportunity moments later, but eventually, Chicharito finished off an eye-catching team move in added-time to put the match beyond any doubt and his team six points clear of the bottom three with his second of the season, 4-2.
So, now that the primary Five Massive Moments from an afternoon everyone associated with West Ham will hope to see much more of the like of in the near future, have been well and truly analysed, will we have yet more positive Hammers Massive Moments to reflect on, this time next week? After Pellegrini’s men have visited David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town in the league? Join us once again, then, to find out.