Cardiff had not beaten West Ham at home since 2004, but they had plenty to play for today starting the match two points behind Southampton in the relegation zone.
It was not surprising that Cardiff went through the game looking like they wanted it more than West Ham, with the Bluebirds arguably having more to play for. Notwithstanding this, it really was a sluggish performance from West Ham.
There were no changes to the starting XI West Ham side which beat Newcastle 2-0 last weekend, meaning that Chicharito was favoured over Marko Arnoutovic once again. Cardiff City made 4 changes to the side that lost to Wolves by the same score line last Saturday.
The West Ham supporters who travelled to the South of Wales sounded up for it; itís a shame no one on the pitch showed the same enthusiasm.
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Cardiff kicked off the game and started on the front foot straight away. Felipe Anderson gave away a free kick just outside the box within a minute. It came into the box, but West Ham cleared. Goodison then had a shot on goal but it was an easy save for Fabianski in the end.
The fourth minute saw West Ham have around 30 seconds of possession in midfield, which is about the most they had in the first 15 minutes, but the short spell soon turned into a Cardiff attack.
Victor Camarasa laid the ball off for Josh Murphy on the right-hand side of the pitch, who crossed it into the box to Junior Hoilett who put it into the back of the net from the near post. It was a good finish from the Canadian but there were four West Ham defenders in the box doing nothing. West Ham looked half asleep.
That sense continued, not least for the next ten minutes, with the Bluebirds playing positively and maintaining possession against a less than sluggish West Ham side.
Any chance West Ham had of an attack or prolonged possession was handed straight back to Cardiff on a plate. Niasse sprinted into the box after regaining possession in the seventh minute, requiring a great tackle from the last man, Issa Diop, to prevent the shot.
Diop then let himself down with a poor defensive header, giving the ball straight back to Cardiff once again to start off another attack. Cardiff were looking at ease on the ball, whilst the Hammers were all over the place. Pellegrini looked on from the dugout shaking his head in utter disbelief at West Hamís woeful start.
With 11 minutes on the clock, Harry Arter committed a heavy challenge on Anderson who was making way down the left-hand side of the pitch. Arter should have been booked; the referee had been quite lenient thus far Ė there had been a few knocks and challenges from both sides which he has let slip.
Another chance for the Bluebirds came in the 13th minute after a heavy pass to Niasse. Fabianski came right out of his goal to the edge of the box to meet the Senegal striker but his hands couldnít find the ball and he left an open goal. Niasse tried to chip it over the Pole but the angle wasnít the easiest and it soared over the top.
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West Hamís first attack of the game came in the 16th minute: Snodgrass smoothly chipped it into the box to Fredericks who was making a decent run, but the right-back couldnít keep it in play and underwhelmingly put it out for a goal kick.
West Ham began to see a bit more of the ball as the half wore on and there was a nice passage of play from the Irons just outside Cardiffís box, but it came to nothing and put Cardiff back on the attack again.
Diop challenged Hoilett, who fell to the floor claiming his foot was stamped on but the ref was having none of it and West Ham were off on the counter attack. In the end, it was sent straight back to Etheridge, who collided with his own player (after a nudge from Hernandez) whilst jumping to catch the ball.
Although West Ham were starting to pick up the pace, Lanzini showing a rush of energy and Noble turning well and making some good passes, they still had not had a shot on target after 25 minutes.
Arter made his second bad challenge of the game with 28 minutes on the clock, this time on Robert Snodgrass. The midfielder was booked this time, but he should have also got a yellow for that earlier challenge on Anderson; with a bit of luck, the Bluebirds would have been down to ten men.
Not long after, Lanzini created a bit of space, with West Ham on the attack, but Anderson, who had been fairly poor thus far, gave it straight back to the Welsh side. The Brazilian then nearly canceled out his errors by delivering a good ball into the box to Noble who had made a good run but couldnít control the ball. Itís a shame a Hernandez or Lanzini wasnít on the end of that cross instead.
In the 32nd minute, Gunnarsson delivered one of his signature long throws into the box. Cardiff were getting to the balls first in the area, particularly those in the air; Gunnarsson, found Morrisson who flicked it onto Niasse. The Everton loanee had a shot but hit the side netting.
Shortly after, Arter made his third dodgy challenge. One more like that and surely heíd have been off.
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An embarrassing dive in the box from Chicharito saw him receive a yellow card from Graham Scott. If he focussed more on controlling the ball than falling over, he might have had his first shot of the game. The Mexican striker sheepishly kept his eyes fixed to the floor. Heís going to be dubbed Cheat-charito soon, taking account of his last few performances.
In the 39th minute West Ham skipper, Mark Noble, took a shot from around 45 yards out after he spotted Etheridge off his line. He couldnít put it on target and it was a poor effort in the end.
Ryan Fredericks came alive in the last few minutes of the first half, with some quick runs down the right-hand side. In the 42nd minute, he managed to get around Hoilett and attempted a cross which resulted in a corner for the Hammers.
Morrisson headed the resulting corner out of danger but it fell to Anderson who managed a decent ball to Snodgrass in the box. Another West Ham corner saw Cardiff sending the ball straight back to Fabianskiís goal within about 10 seconds of Snodgrassí corner being taken.
Cardiff had two more chances in the last couple of minutes of the first half. Murphy was denied a goal after Fabianski caught his effort and good defending from Diop saw him deny Niasse a one-on-one with the West Ham number one.
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For just the second time this season, Cardiff went into the changing rooms leading at half time.
Pellegrini swapped Anderson for Arnoutovic at half time. Any time now would be an opportune time for the Austrian to get the Hammers fans back on his side.
Unfortunately, it was far from an energetic start to the half for West Ham again. Camarasa charged down the right-hand side in the first minute; Cresswell managed to prevent the corner but the Bluebirdsí attacks kept on coming.
Issa Diop was lucky not to receive a yellow card in the 50th minute after taking out Hoilett outside the box; he did concede a free kick, though. Camarasa took the free kick and went straight for goal, but Cresswell was there to head it out of danger.
Minutes later, sloppy defending from West Ham sent Hoilett chasing the ball down the left-hand side. Fredericks couldnít close him down and the goal scorer crossed it into box. He found Murphy who headed the ball across the goal to Camarasa, who looked offside right on the goalkeeperís line. Camarasa trickled it into the goal.
The centre-backs raised their arms at the linesman but the replay showed Fredericks was keeping him onside. Fabianski could have been braver and gone for the ball but Fredericks is really the one to blame for not holding the line. The full-back immediately recognised his error and put his head in his hands.
West Ham just seemed all over the place. Thereíd been nothing tidy about their performance so far.
With 56 minutes on the clock, Gunnarsson pressured Snodgrass in midfield and won the ball. It fell to Niasse who was one-on-one with Fabianski but the striker fluffed it. That could have been the end of it for West Ham.
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Cardiff kept on coming. The ball fell to Niasse again, who shot straight at Fabianski from four yards out. The Goalkeeper could only punch the ball out and Camarasa picked up the rebound. Two decent saves from Fabianski followed. Cardiff really wanted to win this game Ė it should've be 3-0.
The introduction of Michail Antonio before the 60th minute injected some pace into the Hammers side. He drove inside from the left-hand side, getting himself into a good position to have a shot, but his effort was well and truly off target. That effort will be in contention for the worst strike of the weekend.
After 70 minutes of play, Declan Rice drilled the ball onto the post from outside of the box. Etheridge was nowhere near it and it was the best chance West Ham had all game. The ball came off the post at an awkward angle, giving no hope of a rebound.
Another chance for West Ham came minutes later after some quick play between Arnoutovic and Nasri inside the box. It led to a decent shot from Arnoutovic but it only met the hands of Etheridge, making it his first real save of the game.
West Ham then caught Cardiff on the counter attack. It was a really good run from Samir Nasri; he tried to give the ball to Arnoutovic but it didnít find him. Cresswell managed to get a follow up shot but it was blocked.
Then Antonio crossed to Snodgrass on the far right of the box; instead of heading it in front of the goal, Snodgrass got it all wrong and headed it over the top of the goal. The Scot had frustration all over his face; itís not been his day, nor any other West Ham playerís for that matter.
A challenge from Snodgrass in the last ten minutes of play gave away a free kick. Hoilett curled it into the far side of goal, Morrisson was there to meet it with a high boot and it was a horrible collision between Morrisson and Fabianski. The Pole was brave to go for it and Morrisson received a yellow card.
Antonio went for a long throw into the box in the last few minutes of normal time; Arnoutovic didnít even bother jumping for it and Morrisson got to it first. West Ham just hadnít wanted it enough it seems.
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Why canít the players get themselves up for these sort of games? Any remote chance of seventh place is creeping away and itís these type of flat performances against struiggling sides which are surely to blame.
Nothing came of the last few minutes of the game. Antonio met a cross with his head in the box; he headed it on target, which required a save from Etheridge, but it was a weak effort, really.
West Ham put in some effort in the last 20 minutes or so but it wasnít enough. There were simply not enough decent shots on target and the Hammers started awfully in both halves.
The three points went to the team who deserved it and wanted it more.
Lukasz Fabianski (6) His only real error was when he ran out to meet Niasse but didnít get the ball. Luckily, he wasnít punished. Otherwise, he made a superb double save to prevent West Ham going 3-0 down. He didnít do much wrong with the two goals.
Ryan Fredericks (3) He was inconsistent today. He showed good pace at times, making some nice runs down the right-hand side in the first half. But he has to be to blame for Cardiffís second goal and he made some dreadful passes costing West Ham possession.
Aaron Cresswell (4) He seems to be back to his inconsistent ways. He had a poor first half but was better in the second. He attempted a couple of average crosses which didnít really amount to anything.
Issa Diop (5) The Frenchman made a couple of good tackles but should have done more to prevent the first goal.
Angelo Ogbonna (4) Got his head to a few of Gunnarssonís long throws but other than that it was a very average performance. He also didnít do much to prevent the first goal.
Declan Rice (5) The 20-year-old surprisingly came closest to scoring. He could have perhaps done more to lift West Hamís poor performance.
Mark Noble (4) It wasnít the best performance for his 400th league appearance. He made a couple of good turns and passes but nothing special. Canít help but think he should have done more to get his team up for the game.
Felipe Anderson (3) Nowhere near as good as he can be. He gave away simple passes in the first half and looked lazy out there. His early exit indicated he may be injured.
Manuel Lanzini (4) Created space in the latter stages of the first half but the final ball wasnít there and he didnít see enough of it.
Robert Snodgrass (3) Other than his chip to Ryan Fredericks, he didnít do a lot right today. Another midfielder that didnít create enough chances for the Hammers.
Javier Hernandez (2) His dive in the box was atrocious and a needless booking. He barely saw the ball and didnít have a shot on target. Not good enough from the striker.
Marko Arnoutovic (3) (Replaced Anderson) He also didnít see enough of the ball, and looked like he was going through the motions again. It makes you wonder if weíre ever going to see the Austrian back to his best in a West Ham shirt.
Michail Antonio (6) (Replaced Noble) Although he lacked that final ball (embarrassingly so on one occasion), he brought a bit of pace to the game and looked one of the only West Ham players giving 100%.
Samir Nasri (5) (Replaced Lanzini) He made a couple of good runs and had some nice touches in and around the box.
Adrian San Miguel del Castillo (0) Did not play.
Arthur Masuaku (0) Did not play.
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Aaron Cresswell, Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, Robert Snodgrass, Javier Hernandez.
Substitutes: Marko Arnoutovic , Michail Antonio, Samir Nasri, Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Arthur Masuaku.
Booked: Javier Hernandez 36
Cardiff City: Etheridge, Peltier, Bennett (Bacuna 62), Morrison, Ecuele Manga, Arter (Paterson 84), Murphy, Gunnarsson, Camarasa (Ralls 68), Niasse, Hoilett.
Subs not used: Smithies, Zohore, De Cordova-Reid, Harris.
Goals: Hoilett (4), Camarasa (52)
Booked: Arter, Morrison
Referee: Graham Scott
Man of the Match: Angelo Ogbonna