On Saturday evening at Craven Cottage, Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United made it four Premier League wins in a row by defeating Claudio Ranieri’s Fulham 0-2. Two days after the emphatic two-goal victory, we analyse five massive moments from a second London derby triumph in seven days for the Hammers.
Fabianski stops Kamara breaking the deadlock
Our first massive moment arrived just nine minutes into the intriguing contest in West London and was one that could have seen the entire complexion of the Saturday late kick-off change, giving it an entirely different outcome.
Whilst the hosts haven’t struggled in front of goal this season, scoring the most in the bottom seven, they would be left to rue not taking their chances, especially in the first half, as this was what condemned them to another week in 20th place in the PL.
By far the easiest of the chances, the one that forms our first massive moment, was squandered by Cottagers striker Aboubakar Kamara, scorer of their last home goal at the start of the month.
The former Monaco man was slipped clean through by fellow forward Aleksandar Mitrovic just before the ten-minute mark, only for Lukasz Fabianski, en-route to a third clean sheet of the season, to stop him from breaking the deadlock.
Kamara, without a defender in sight, appeared to be opening up his body to slot the ball in the far corner, but decided to shoot for the near post from close range, allowing the Hammers shot-stopper to get down to his left and push it out for a corner. As we’ll find out in our next massive moment, eight minutes later, Fulham were made to regret the huge miss.
Snodgrass fires West Ham ahead
Aside from an early venture forward from left-back Arthur Masuaku which amounted to nothing other than a wasted corner, West Ham were yet to launch any real form of attack in the first 15 minutes, unlike their hosts. However, this was all about to change.
In true Pellegrini counter-attacking style, the method that worked so well for the East Londoners in their other two league away triumphs in 2018/2019 at Everton and Newcastle United, in-form Robert Snodgrass was to fire West ham ahead in the 17th minute.
The move for the opening goal would have never come about if it wasn’t for the quick-thinking and vision of captain Mark Noble, fresh from signing a one-year contract extension. He received the ball from Declan Rice in a break and picked out Felipe Anderson.
The man involved in eight Premier League goals this campaign, the most of any Hammer, would latch onto the pass and always had the beating of Belgian right-back Denis Odoi. Skipping past him, he advanced into the box and spotted and found Snodgrass free on the edge.
From here, the move still needed finishing and then some, with the Scotland man limbering up on his preferred left foot and lashing an accurate and powerful shot past Sergio Rico and into the back of the net. Snodgrass’ second long-range strike in a week provided a platform for his team to gain control of the game.
Mitrovic fails to level the scores from yards out
Whilst it will be remembered more vividly for the two away goals, the first half was very much littered with home missed chances, whether the guilty party was Kamara, Mitrovic or Andre Schurrle. This would lead to our third massive moment.
Having taken the lead, West Ham didn’t start to dictate the play. Instead it was their clinical nature in front of goal that gave them three points that left them ninth at the end of the weekend. It wasn’t total dominance or even necessarily being the better side on the whole.
Despite most Fulham fingers being pointed firmly in the direction of Kamara for his misses prior to the break, Mitrovic could still be held accountable in a significant way, mainly for our next massive moment, a wonderful opportunity to make it 1-1.
Ex-Bristol City left-back Joe Bryan picked up the pieces of a failed delivery from the right to float a cross beyond the West Ham defence and to the unmanned danger area of the back post.
For a long time, it appeared to be heading harmlessly out of play, but Mitrovic had slipped the attention of Masuaku and Issa Diop to steal in and find space. His header sailed wide at the near post. However, had the Serbian nodded back across goal, it could have been a different story, instead, he failed to level the scores and find an eighth league goal of 2018/2019.
Antonio coolly doubles the advantage
By now, the Cottagers knew the drill of sending a big chance by the wayside and paying the price for it right away, the only difference was that they would be regretting this one much quicker. And when they did, it was right after our penultimate massive moment.
There were just three minutes between Mitrovic heading wide from yards out in the 26th minute and Michail Antonio striking for the third time this term in all competitions in the 29th, coolly doubling the advantage.
The former England international was only in the starting Xl for the seventh time in the league this term due to the foot injury of Lucas Perez, sustained in the third win of the four-game winning run at home to Crystal Palace last Saturday.
However, he would justify his selection with an uncharacteristically cool finish that proved to be a major blow to Ranieri’s men without half-an-hour even played. The final strike of the evening on the banks of the River Thames in the driving rain.
Once again, Anderson was the primary creator, cutting in from the left flank to deliver a cross onto the head of Javier Hernandez, who was unable to add to his tally of five for the campaign. The Mexican’s flick found Antonio in acres of space at the far post and all that was left to do was touch the ball past Rico, sending the travelling Claret & Blue Army behind the goal into delirium.
Diop avoids own-goal embarrassment as Hammers survive
That was the way the scoreline would remain at the break, with the Irons cruising and the West Londoners left with a mountain to climb in the second half. Early in that final 45 minutes, our very familiar final massive moment reared its head.
The moment, not for the first time, involved a near miss in the West Ham penalty area, though it must be said that the side a single point adrift and three points from safety at the bottom of the table failed to threaten near as much post-half-time.
Perhaps this would have changed if the pendulum of luck had swung a different way on 52 minutes, many believed that the visitors rode their luck at times and this instance was certainly evidence of that being true.
Substitute Cyrus Christie did give Fulham a boost in the final third and it was his cross, after he had slipped away from Rice to receive a pass in the area, that headed for the awkwardly-positioned centre-back Diop, on his first-ever trip to Craven Cottage.
Unable to get a proper clearance away, the France under-21 signed from Toulouse for a then club-record fee in the summer threw his body at the ball and luckily for him, avoided own-goal embarrassment as it span away from danger to be hooked clear. The ball could have deflected anywhere, including back past his own ‘keeper and in, a reminder of the fortune of the Hammers in spite of fully deserving their 0-2 win.
So, now that all the crucial massive moments from the evening where West Ham achieved four league victories in succession for the first time in almost five years (since February 2014) have been well and truly analysed, will we have yet more positive Massive Moments to reflect on come this time next week? After another London rival in Watford have visited London Stadium? Join us once again, then, to find out.
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