A rather tame 0-0 draw with a lacklustre United gained West Ham another point in a somewhat mute London Stadium on Thursday night. Considering United’s attacking talent, it was very baffling to see them set up so negatively, with Pogba and Sanchez on the pitch and Martial, Rashford and Mata on the bench, it was a surprise to see how little they offered in attack. Adrian made a couple of great saves, one from Luke Shaw, in particular, was stunning, but neither side really dominated the midfield battle and the game quickly dissolved into a niggly, bad-tempered match.
Arnautovic looked a threat again but once more looked bereft of support, this changed when Carroll replaced Masuaku in the second half and as usual the big striker gave West Ham a focal point and West Ham created a couple of half chances, one which Noble blazed over and another denied by some solid defending from Phil Jones, who did well to deny Carroll a back-post header following some good interplay between Carroll and Arnautovic.
Noble and Kouyate performed well against the United midfield and Pogba’s frustration was evident when he kicked out at Noble following a tussle in midfield late into the second half. Noble’s reaction sparked a melee in the middle of the pitch which saw Noble and Pogba booked, while Carroll and Shaw were very lucky to escape further punishment from referee John Moss.
A point against second-place Manchester United should be seen as a positive but, to be honest, it didn’t really feel that way, I have had the feeling again as I have had many times this season that had we been more daring then we could have had more out of the game.
Rice and Mario were West Ham’s outstanding performers on the night with the young Irishman impressing again against esteemed opposition, his development over the course of this season has been a rare bright spark in a season we will want to forget quickly.
And so onto Sunday and Big Sam’s return to West Ham, it would be nice go out on a high and beat a side who have been something of a nemesis to us over the years. I imagine us keeping the same starting line up again, games like this are impossible to predict as they can go one of two ways, they either have a real end-of-term feel or both teams relax and go hell for leather against each other, Knowing how both managers traditionally set up I can see this game being the former rather than the latter.
Once Sunday is done then a decision needs to be made on Moyes, if we are keeping him then I hope he is backed by the board and the support, he has fulfilled his remit to keep us in the division and has had to handle a huge amount of turmoil off the pitch. Personally, I think his negativity impairs West Ham at times but he has brought discipline and structure, things that were lacking in Billic’s final days.
It’s going to be another interesting Summer, what odds do you give me that we sign a Panamanian striker after a decent World Cup? We have dragged ourselves over the line this season, I really believe we could be on the cusp of something good, we have great talent going forward, and if we can supplement that in key area’s – Goalkeeper, Centre Half, Holding Midfield – there is no reason why we shouldn’t have a good season next year. It’s the hope that kills you isn’t it………