Hammers Held: West Ham United 0 – Aston Villa 0

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With the minute’s silence marked, the game got underway.

In the early stages, Agbonlahor, who played up front in place of the suspended Benteke, and Weimann were a threat to the Hammers. Having shown great skill to scurry into the West Ham box past former Villan James Collins after twelve minutes, Agbonlahor then stupidly sent his shot over the bar.

Collins’ motored to the other end of the pitch, where his powerful header from one of many corners was aimed straight at Guzan.

The hosts were industrious and kept the visitors under pressure.

After eighteen minutes, Reid over hit a back pass and the West Ham goalkeeper, Adrian, failed to control the ball, which looked like it was set to roll over the line at the far post. Given the Lions’ luck of late, or rather their distinct lack thereof, it was unsurprising that it did not.

Guzan came out to punch a high ball into the box clear but clattered into Cissokho, who was challenging Sakho. Fortunately, the ball dropped wide.

Moments later, Guzan was called into action again to beat away a fierce, angled drive from another former Villan, Downing, whose play showed why he has been recalled to the England squad by Roy Hodgson.

The Villans were guilty of some basic errors but still looked dangerous on the break at times.

After thirty-eight minutes, N’Zogbia skilfully wound his way in to the penalty area and rolled the ball to Weimann. However, the Austrian was a little unlucky, forcing a fine save from Adrian from fifteen yards out.

As the first half went to stoppage time, the Hammers did well to work the ball out to the diligent Downing on the left. The Villa fans then delighted in mocking him when he skewed his shot into the side netting.

Half-time having been spent either getting soaked in the stands listening to rather odd announcements about celebrities’ engagements or being crushed on the concourse, the travelling fans welcomed the team back on to the pitch – and it was the visiting Villans who made the brighter start.

Following some encouraging play from Agbonlahor, Cleverley threatened within seconds of the restart but his left-footed effort from outside the box rose a little too high and went over.

The Villans continued to frustrate their hosts, who ran themselves ragged but were unable to find the net.

Once Sanchez’s left-footed shot was saved by Adrian in the sixty-third minute and Valencia’s effort blocked, Allardyce sent on Nolan to replace Kouyate.

At this point, tempers flared, with Cleverley booked for a bad foul on the Premier League player of the month, Sakho, and Weimann shown a yellow card for dissent.

An alert Adrian cleared the ball when Nolan’s clearance rebounded into the box.

Assisted byLowton, N’Zogbia chanced his arm from outside the box but his shot, swerving wide, was too high.

With no sign of any substitutions for the visitors, Allardyce sent Cole on in place of Valencia. Three minutes later, Cole chipped the ball across to Sakho but the striker missed to the right from the penalty spot.

Sakho again shot too high before Baker collided with Cole. Referee Jonathon Moss’ decision to award a free-kick against the West Ham striker was not warmly received by the West Ham players or their frustrated fans.

With Baker stretchered off, Lambert sent Philippe Senderos on in the eighty-seventh minute.

Agbonlahor found himself booked for a bad foul before Downing’s shot was blocked and Guzan dealt with Jenkinson’s header comfortably.

Desperate for a win, in injury time Allardyce decided it was time for Carroll, returning from his lengthy absence caused by an ankle injury, to enter the fray. The tall striker posed an immediate threat, heading from the centre of the box following Downing’s cross, and a stretching Guzan did very well indeed to thrust out a hand and parry in the centre of his goal.

Clark then replaced N’Zogbia.

With shots flying at him from all directions in injury time, Guzan stood tall and earned his pay. There was time for Carroll to try his luck once more but Guzan was equal to the England striker and able, once more, to deny him a fairy tale return.

Speaking after the game, Paul Lambert said:

“I thought we were excellent, resolute – everything you need to get anything from here.

West Ham have been on a rich vein of form. They have been playing really well, so to come here and get something is a big result for us.

I thought we were first class. It was a massive point for us.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. It is a massive point, but obviously we are far from excellent. Lambert’s tactics and injuries/suspensions mean the performance was about as good as it gets at the moment, and it was very predictable, and with the usual lower percentage of possession we were always going to have to ride our luck but the effort was tremendous and that is a very good positive sign.

    My gut feeling is that we will lose against the saints, Lowton is too exposed and either allows crosses to come in or is out of position too many times. I’m not slagging him off as he has been reasonable in attack and is still getting back to match sharpness, but pointing out where I think they will get there chances from.

    It’s clear we need to find goals, at times we have good possession, the 3 midfielders pass and move and control the ball at times very well, until we get to the box when they tend to run out of ideas, or select the wrong option, or just pass poorly.

    This is where we need Lambert to earn his pay as the 3 midfielders I think are pretty good and can/will get better, but it won’t happen overnight and Lambert will have to play a different system, 433 at home only works if the front 3 are firing on all cylinders otherwise it’s just more of the same crap.

    • Why is progress under Lambert so woefully slow?

      Why do we write off games against top sides? Ain’t football about building, winning, momentum?

      Regret the day Villa appointed Lambert. No proven top level credentials.

      Villa’s Paul Lambert era will ultimately end in a painful divorce. Hopefully, Villa not relegated to Championship by then.

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