Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United managed to save a point despite a below-par overall performance at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday afternoon, drawing 1-1 with David Wagner’s struggling Huddersfield Town in the Premier League. Two days after the stalemate, join us as we analyse Five Massive Moments from the evenly-fought remembrance match encounter.
Fabianski Keeps West Ham On Level Terms
Our first Massive Moment in West Yorkshire would arrive a mere three minutes into the action and involve the pure quality of one player, the man who has arguably been the pick of West Ham’s nine first-team summer-2018 signings.
This player is, of course, Lukasz Fabianski, who, like his opposite number Jonas Lossl as we’ll find out shortly, had to be on his toes in the early part of the afternoon as goalmouth action was rife in the opening stages of the even matchup.
The Hammers, still on the search for their second league clean sheet of the season in spite of impressing with their performances at the back, conceded a third-minute corner under pressure from the hosts.
It was swung in by Australian International Aaron Mooy for a Terriers team that would end the day a place below the one they started in on the PL table, 19th, with the visitors staying where they were in 13th, perfectly onto the head of striker Steve Mounie.
Just yards out, the Frenchman angled his header at goal and without any time to react, Fabianski, the man with the second-most saves in the league this season, flung a hopeful arm at it. The decisive touch pushed the powerful effort onto the bar and away to safety, an early let-off for Pellegrini, courtesy of his goalkeeper, who would go onto win him a point.
Arnautovic Misses Golden Opportunity To Break Deadlock
In a frantic first five minutes at the John Smith’s, there was drama at both ends and in the moments following the home team coming ever so close to opening the scoring, our second Massive Moment reared its head.
It was a Massive Moment that shocked many around the ground, more emphasis being on the travelling Claret & Blue Army, fresh from making the 205-mile trip up to Huddersfield.
They couldn’t believe that, having been slipped clean-through by bright youngster Grady Diangana on four minutes, their star striker Marko Arnautovic couldn’t break the deadlock.
The Austrian, in his quest for a sixth club goal of the season and goals in back-to-back matches for the first time since December 2017, did everything right, taking the ball in his stride and creating a one-on-one scenario with Danish International Lossl.
His shot, destined for the right-hand bottom corner, was tipped wide by the slight fingertip of Lossl to the disappointment of the away end. Opening the scoring would have led to an entirely different match in the fixture that was won 1-4 by the Hammers last season, but our next Massive Moment shifted the balance completely.
Pritchard Takes Advantage Of Strong Huddersfield Start
In all fairness, while both sides had gone close in the opening exchanges, the team that had threatened more were Huddersfield and they got their reward, giving the away side a familiar punishment, for not taking their big opportunity.
The strike came in frustrating circumstances for Pellegrini for two reasons, the first being that it will go down as one of the more avoidable conceded goals of the campaign, one that was branded by many as “soft.”
The second reason was that up until Monday night when Fulham defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah put through his own net, Wagner’s men hadn’t scored a home league goal since April, when Tom Ince converted against Watford in the club’s phenomenal survival run.
A careless pass from Anderson back to Declan Rice deep in his own half saw the 19-year-old lose possession to Alex Pritchard, the former Norwich City man exchanging passes with his captain Jonathan Hogg to enter space that shouldn’t have existed on the edge of the penalty area.
Pritchard’s low and precise effort dribbled through the legs of the unfortunate Rice and had Fabianski scrambling. He was unable to get there and the ball trickled into the bottom corner, blame being unfairly passed to the ‘keeper but it didn’t matter who was to blame, Pritchard had taken advantage of his team’s strong start to become the first Terrier to score at home in the league in 726 minutes of action.
Anderson Stunner Levels For Hammers
The scoreline would stay that way between the two bottom-half outfits for the next 66 minutes, regardless of chances falling at both ends, until the game was turned on its head by our penultimate Massive Moment.
After the first-half display that saw them fall behind first in a match for the eighth time this season and concede their earliest goal of the campaign, the Irons needed to and did improve in the opening part of the second half.
The East Londoners were fortunate not to be further behind at the break and had a combination of Fabianski and lady luck to thank. But they were about to take advantage of their fortune to get the equaliser they deserved, in the final 20 minutes.
When the home side would have started to dream about holding on for a vital three points that could have lifted them out of the bottom three, Anderson collected the ball on the left flank and played a wonderful short pass into Robert Snodgrass.
The Scotsman had to cross first-time on the move and picked out Arnautovic, his scuffed shot teeing up substitute Michail Antonio for an effort that was blocked into the path of Anderson. The ex-Brazil International unleashed a stunner of a strike that evaded eight home players and buried in the top right corner to level things with 18 minutes remaining, his fourth for the club and third in two games.
Diop Inches Away From Winning Match With First PL Goal
Our final Massive Moment displays the cyclical structure of the match as at the very start, West Ham came within inches of scoring the first goal of the game, much like they did at the end with the final goal of the bitterly cold Yorkshire day.
The equaliser kicked off a final 15 or so minutes where either side could have snatched the three points, but in that period, the best chances arrived at one end, the end that the away team were attacking.
Wagner’s men would leave the bulk of their late threatening until the final few minutes, with the Hammers setting about trying to score the winner and take their fourth PL victory of the season, between the 75th and 85th minutes, primarily.
Right in the middle of that period came the chance that saw the ball get as close to going over the line as it was going to without doing so in the closing stages, courtesy of the header of Issa Diop, still looking for his first PL goal, and coming agonisingly close to getting it.
The man who was today called up to the France under-21 squad, was picked out by the pinpoint corner of Snodgrass to see his effort somehow cleared off the line by Mooy, putting in a miraculous headed clearance as the last line of defence. Some Hammers fans were already up cheering before they realised, but both sets of supporters had to settle for a point, in the end.
So, now that all the Massive Moments from the afternoon where West Ham went three matches unbeaten in the league 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 the defending Premier League champions have visited London Stadium? Join us once again, then, to find out.