Solid Hammers Keep Flat United At Bay In London Stadium Stalemate
David Moyes’ West Ham United earned a respectable point in a London Stadium stalemate with Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United in the Premier League, yesterday evening as the two teams played out a rather uninspiring goalless draw.
Chances flowed at both ends but more frequently the goal that the visitors were attacking and the hosts can have Adrian San-Miguel to thank for picking up the point, with the Spanish goalkeeper making several excellent saves to keep them at bay.
The post-match headlines were dominated by a late brawl between the two sets of players, however, which was sparked by an altercation between Irons captain Mark Noble and Paul Pogba, the former was fortunate to escape red card action.
A point apiece was significant for both sides as the East Londoners moved just a point away from the 40-point mark having secured safety last weekend, keeping their hopes of finishing in the top half on the final day alive, whereas, the draw secured second place for United, giving them the opportunity to break down the 80-point barrier on matchday thirty-eight.
From the start in a warm East London, home manager Moyes named an unchanged starting Xl from last Saturday’s crucial away win over Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.
This meant that Spanish shot-stopper Adrian San-Miguel kept his place between the sticks, despite Joe Hart returning to the squad from illness, the trio of Joao Mario, Manuel Lanzini and Marko Arnautovic were ser to be the danger men for the hosts.
Meanwhile, while there was no change for the home team, it would be all change when it came to Mourinho’s selection, with the Portuguese gaffer decided on eight alterations from the disappointing defeat at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion last Friday evening.
Coming into the side was the defensive fivesome of Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia and Scott McTominay, midfielder Ander Herrera, and attackers Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard, they took the places of Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo, captain Ashley Young, the injured Marouane Fellaini, his fellow central man Nemanja Matic and the threatening trio of Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Right from the word go at the London Stadium, which was confirmed to be hosting baseball next year earlier in the week, the contest had a slow tempo to it.
Unsurprisingly, both managers had set up relatively defensively and were tentative to have a go at each other, but they still managed to create a few half-openings in the first 20 minutes.
Star man Marko Arnautovic would register the first effort on the target of the evening, peeling away from several United defenders to get his shot off from the edge of the area, but it was straight at David de Gea, whose clean sheet handed him the PL Golden Gove award for this campaign.
The Austrian threatened once more a short while later when Aaron Cresswell’s defected cross picked him out in the middle, although he wasn’t expected it to reach him and could only head over.
Moyes’ men could perhaps think themselves lucky that the aforementioned Cresswell remained on the field after a stirring challenge on Scott McTominay which went unpunished, so too when Pablo Zabaleta appeared to handle the ball in the box, the same result of no action followed.
The decision motivated the Young Scot and he curled just wide of target on the 20-minute mark having picked up possession on the edge of the area, but even when the Red Devils did hit the target, Adrian wasn’t going to be beaten.
Jesse Lingard was a constant threat and he raced forward on the break just before 25 minutes, assessing his options and then unleashing a powerful effort, which the former Real Betis star managed to push away.
Adrian was called into action a further three times over the course of the half and he rose to the occasion each time, but none more impressively than his double-save just moments after the first one.
United worked the ball into a dangerous area in the box with Alexis Sanchez and he shot first time, the ‘keeper reacting quickly to save into the path of Luke Shaw, his powerful low shot being pushed on to the post by the Spaniard’s legs.
His fourth save was equally as eye-catching and came in first-half added time, once again, Lingard got himself into an advanced area and decided to try his luck, Adrian managed to get to and tip away the swerving shot, despite initially dummying the other way.
These saves were the highlight of the night from a Hammers perspective and helped Adrian to win our Man of the Match, as well as keep a second clean sheet on the spin.
The closest Moyes’ men came all evening was when Arnautovic could work his magic in the final third, something he did do on 36 minutes to get the beating the defence on the right side of the box.
He was able to pick out Joao Mario from the delivery, who was just unable to turn the ball home and repeat his goal-scoring feat last weekend, that and a few wasted corners, the best it got for West Ham in the first period.
When referee Jon Moss blew his half-time whistle, both outfits could be relatively satisfied with their efforts and were on track to achieve their aims, the Red Devils had been on top, but things were evenly poised heading into the second 45.
Fans were hoping to see a little more entertainment after half-time, however, they would scarcely get it as the affair petered out to be a dull draw without score.
For a few minutes at the beginning of the half, it looked like it might have been different, the bright Lingard having a goal-bound shot blocked for a corner and Sanchez managed to round Adrian, only to see his lobbed shot headed off the line by Angelo Ogbonna.
The former and Frenchman Pogba provided Mourinho’s men’s best moments of inspiration in front of goal in the second period with shots from range, one of which was held on to by Adrian and the other curled inches wide of the target.
Neither the East London side or the Manchester club spent much time in their opponents’ box after the break, as much of the half was contested in the centre of the field, a midfield battle.
The Hammers were mainly limited to counter-attacks and once more, when they were able to get the ball up to Arnautovic, it spelled danger for the second-best team in the league, though it wasn’t often enough.
The Hammer of the Year was almost able to take advantage of some rare service on occasion, such as on the hour mark when he found himself free in the box, United defended well enough to deny him several times.
The introduction of Andy Carroll from the substitutes’ bench and Marcus Rashford for the visitors did little to liven up the affair and give it some late excitement.
Noble fired a shot from an Arnautovic lay-off well over the crossbar on 84 minutes and in truth, that was the last real goalmouth action of the affair, although there would be some excitement for supporters at last, in the 87th minute.
The hosts had become frustrated with the away side fouling them frequently as they looked to break in the centre of the park and a Pogba foul on Noble proved too much for the home captain.
Enraged, he approached United’s club record signing and appeared to grab his face and twist his neck, before several other players, including Carroll and Shaw, got involved.
For a moment, things looked very heated and the overall altercation took a good while to calm down, but when it did, Noble and Pogba both went in the referee’s book, one would feel that retrospective action may be on its way.
The match limped over the finish line, in the end, with both Moyes’ and Mourinho’s men happy to see it out for the draw and it was kiss and make up time for Noble and Pogba at full-time as they shook hands and hugged, as did both sets of players, a friendly note to end a rather friendly evening of football on.
A positive result for both parties means that they will go into their final day clashes in high spirits, West Ham will welcome their former manager Sam Allardyce and his Everton team to London Stadium on Sunday, looking to get past 40 points and finish in the top half.
Whereas, when United play host to Watford at Old Trafford at the same time, their thoughts will undoubtedly half-be on next weekend’s FA Cup final with nothing to play for, which they will face off with Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in.
Hammer of the Match: Adrian San-Miguel.
If you want to read more about David Moyes’ West Ham United’s Premier League draw with Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United on Thursday night at London Stadium, you can, check out the archives of our Matchday Live Blog, which we brought live to you from the Press Box of the former Olympic Stadium, our Five Main Talking Points and our Hammers Player Ratings, simply click on the links.