West Ham secured back-to-back victories for the first time since January 2017 with a 3-1 win over Cardiff City on Tuesday night.
The Hammers started the game well, but after failing to take their early chances, Manuel Pellegrini’s men struggled to make the breakthrough. Disaster almost struck midway through the first half for the home side, when the Bluebirds were awarded a penalty after Marko Arnautovic brought down Junior Hoillet. Lukasz Fabianski made an excellent save from Joe Ralls’ subsequent spot-kick to keep West Ham level.
The East Londoners came out strong in the opening minutes of the second half, with Lucas Perez notching two early goals for West Ham. In the 61st minute, Michail Antonio cleverly flicked a header home for the Irons, to all but seal the three points. Pellegrini’s men dominated the final half an hour of the game before Josh Murphy scored a 95th-minute consolatory goal for Cardiff.
Analysing West Ham offensively
West Ham were quite wasteful in the early stages of the game, as chances came and went for the hosts. Marko Arnautovic looked lively, but with Chicharito playing on the shoulder of the Bluebirds’ defence, the Austrian found himself dropping deep far too often in pursuit of the ball. After missing a couple of good opportunities and giving away a needless penalty, the forward suffered a hamstring injury and was replaced by Perez.
Chicharito played just over an hour but had an incredibly quiet game. The Mexican was starved of possession, as the Hammers time and time again tried to walk the ball into the net, against a Cardiff side that defended well in the first half. Hernandez had just 20 touches and failed to complete a single dribble or even have a shot during the game.
It was Lucas Perez that really bailed the Irons out in this one. The Spaniard, having previously failed to impress the home crowd at the London Stadium, came on with a point to prove and really did put himself about. Although neither of the finishes for his goals were anything special, it was important to get himself off the mark for the Hammers in the Premier League. He was the pick of the West Ham forwards, scoring with his only two shots, making one successful dribble and having 23 touches.
Robert Snodgrass continued to endear himself to the Hammers faithful, accompanying his tireless work ethic with two assists. Playing off the right-hand side, the Scotsman regularly came in off the flank and linked up play with his fellow offensive teammates. Snodgrass was probably the best player in claret and blue on the night, with 54 touches, one successful dribble, and four tackles to help out his side.
After a good performance at Newcastle on Saturday, Felipe Anderson grew in confidence as the match went on. The Brazilian had a few nice touches and played a couple of good through balls in the first half, but the forwards were not quite firing. When the game opened up in the second half, Anderson showed his class and looked dangerous in and around the area. A decent night for the winger, in which he had 82 touches and made two successful dribbles.
Analysing West Ham defensively
Despite conceding a goal and having to save a penalty, the Hammers defence were not actually threatened too much on the night. Great credit has to Lukasz Fabianski, though, as it could have been a completely different game had he not made that crucial penalty save with the sides level. He will be disappointed to concede a goal right at the end, but he was definitely fouled in the buildup to the goal.
Angelo Ogbonna, returning to the starting lineup, had a decent outing in the heart of the defence. The Italian, alongside Issa Diop, expertly nullified the physical threat of Cardiff, winning nine aerial duels, one tackle, an interception, three clearances and three blocks. Meanwhile, Diop made one tackle, three interceptions, one clearance, one block and won four aerial duels.
Stepping in at right-back, Michail Antonio put in a solid performance and even notched a goal. The makeshift full-back didn’t look out of place defensively and showed great energy running up and down the right flank. Antonio made two clearances, two blocks, one successful dribble and won two aerial duels.
After struggling to convince the Hammers fans that he is worthy of being the number one left-back at the club, Arthur Masuaku had a night of mixed fortunes. Although he set up Lucas Perez’s second goal of the night, Masuaku gave the ball away numerous times and was quite wasteful. The left-back lost possession eight times but made two successful dribbles, four tackles, one clearance and one block.
On the whole, despite the injury to Arnautovic, it was a good night for West Ham. Although the opposition were relatively poor, it could have been much different if the penalty had gone in. It was important to put back-to-back Premier League victories together for the first time in almost two years, and to register another three goals is always good.
There is no doubt that Crystal Palace will put up a sterner test for the Hammers at the weekend, but having pulled away from the relegation zone, Pellegrini’s side should be going into the game full of confidence.
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