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Premier League
Saturday, 1st December 2018

Newcastle United 0
West Ham United 3

by Chris Wilkerson


For West Ham, a week after being a taught a lesson in taking chances, it was their time to show the value in quality in forward positions.

With a 4-4-2 formation adopted again by the Hammers, Manuel Pellegrini chose to bring Robert Snodgrass, Mark Noble, Aaron Cresswell and Javier Hernandez back into the side.

It was arguably the best game of Javier Hernandez’s time at West Ham too.

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As many of the Newcastle fans arrived at their seats after a protest to walk in on the 11th minute, the first thing many would have seen was the Hernandez placing the ball into the back of the net from six yards out.

The Mexican made it look easy, but whilst the finish was relatively simple, the movement to make that space was fantastic.

Snodgrass, returning to the team after suspension, was allowed to turn onto his left foot on the edge of the box, and his cross was bent low and curling towards the far corner. Both forwards being marked, sudden movement left Hernandez all alone and standing in the middle of the goal from six yards. He made no mistake.

Not long after, the impressive Anderson fed a lovely pass through Newcastle’s defence, Arnautovic breaking the offside trap with ease and beating the Newcastle goalkeeper to the ball. His touch took him too wide to threaten, whilst his honesty was clear, hurdling the challenge of Dubravka rather than finding a chance to fall for the penalty.

Newcastle had the best chances of the rest of the first half.

First, Ayoze Perez was allowed was to walk away unmarked on a corner and meet the cross from six yards out. It’s West Ham’s fortune that he managed to balloon the easy chance over the bar.

Another chance fell not long before the half’s end, but Rondon was spectacularly blocked by Zabaleta as he pulled the trigger, a wonderful sliding challenge. The Argentine then headed away the resulting corner, proving how hard he will be to replace for the side in December.

Otherwise, the Pole in goal had only really been called to action for crosses, and had dealt with those well.

The away side went in 1-0 up at half time, deservedly too. Newcastle had had the better of the play, but the real goal scoring threat looked to be carried by West Ham.

This continued into the second half. Hernandez and Anderson were enjoying themselves, both proving far too good for the Newcastle defence, even with Arnautovic somewhat hit and miss.

West Ham had settled into their game well. Off the ball, it was clear that the counter attacking threat of that trio would lead the side forward on the pounce.

Twice early on, this approach should have brought reward.

A wonderfully weighted Noble flick set Arnautovic in, but his pass was too fast and too close to Hernandez’s toes for the Mexican to get his feet together.

Newcastle went up the field but were wasteful again, and West Ham were always ready to take advantage of the home side’s lack of quality in the final third.

That front three broke forward, and when Anderson played another lovely pass through the Newcastle defence and into the penalty area, Hernandez looked set for a second.

With time to sort out his feet, Hernandez was too wild and not accurate enough as his shot found only side-netting.

It was a sign of how the game was opening up. Newcastle never looked fluent or potent close to goal, whilst West Ham were happy to invite chances to counter attack.

Newcastle continued to lack a final ball, continued to nearly make chances, and West Ham continued to be comfortable with what they were doing.

The Hammers were proving capable of building moves with patient and clever passing one moment and decisive, sharp and fast ones the next.

It was a sudden burst of this quality that got them the second goal on 63 minutes.

A long goal kick was won first by the Newcastle defence, then returned into midfield by West Ham. Rice flicked a cushioned volley forward, which Arnautovic headed softly down and through the Newcastle backline.

Just like that, Hernandez was in behind and through on goal. Two touches later, the Mexican scored his and West Ham’s second of the game. His instincts again got him a yard away from the defenders, and once he nudged the ball into the box, his finish was perfect to slide it round the Newcastle goalkeeper.

It was the finish the headed pass deserved, a moment to prove that the class of Arnautovic was still potent on a day he wasn’t shining. The West Ham strike-force was full of quality and showing it, completely in contrast with what the home side could offer.

From here, the game was never in doubt. It could have been a lot more comfortable a lot earlier.

Again the front three pounced on any opportunity to counter, this time roaring together as a three with Arnautovic passing Anderson in through on goal. The Brazilian disappointed with a tame shot straight at Dubravka’s legs from close range. The combination between the two was simple, but the three men were too much for Newcastle to deal with.

Only goal difference separated the two sides at the start of the game, but by the end it looked like an ocean of difference in quality.

The third goal and convincing victory that West Ham deserved came in stoppage time.

The returning Wilshere rolled his man in the middle of the park, feeding Felipe Anderson on the left. Anderson moved inside, showing uncharacteristic strength to not just brush off a challenge, but to bully his defender to the ground. That left him in on goal, and this time his straight effort had too much power to stop, going in through the Newcastle goalkeeper’s legs.

In the end, the 3-0 win was as little as West Ham deserved. They had outfought Newcastle in midfield, been comfortable in defence and far too good for the home side when going forward.


For the travelling fans, not only was it a fourth win for the Hammers this season, it was done playing excellent football and managed intelligently.

Importantly for West Ham, it was a confidence boosting win at the beginning of a run of fixtures against the teams around them, and only a second clean sheet of the season.

Games now come thick and fast, but Tuesday at home to Cardiff looks a lot brighter with the chance for elusive back-to-back victories.



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Player Ratings

Lucasz Fabianski
Did everything well, even though he was tested more by crosses than shots.


Pablo Zabaleta
A rock again, he’ll be missed when he’s rested this month. One extremely crucial challenge. Wasn’t tested by pace this year, a weird choice by Benitez.


Aaron Cresswell
A better fit at left back, making crucial interceptions inside. Hopefully not a bad injury.


Issa Diop
Imperious at times. Probably could make less overlapping runs into the box. What an intelligent West Ham signing.


Fabian Balbuena
Outshone a little by Diop, but The General is earning that nickname.


Declan Rice
Always effective, minimum of fuss, one of the first names on the teamsheet.


Mark Noble
Has been neater, but passed well at both ends and was comfortable.


Felipe Anderson
Newcastle with his running and passing. Games like this, he justifies every penny and scares defenders.


Javier Hernandez
The goals were brilliant, his movement excellent, but his passing and understanding of teammates were quietly magnificent too.


Robert Snodgrass
Works harder than anyone, produced a beautiful cross for the first goal.


Marko Arnautovic
Even when slightly off his game, his quality will shine through. Seemed an effortless understanding with the front three.


Substitutes


Arthur Masuaku
(Replaced Cresswell) Beaten a couple of times, but nothing of note.


Pedro Obiang
(Replaced Arnautovic) Shored up the midfield to usher home three points.


Jack Wilshere
(Replaced Noble) Nice turn in midfield and easy pass out wide for the assist.


Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
Did not play.


Angelo Ogbonna
Did not play.


Andy Carroll
Did not play.


Lucas Perez
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Paul Tierney.

Attendance: 51,853.

Man of the Match: Felipe Anderson.

West Ham United

Lucasz Fabianski, Pablo Zabaleta, Aaron Cresswell, Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Felipe Anderson, Javier Hernandez, Robert Snodgrass, Marko Arnautovic.

Goals: Javier Hernandez 11 Javier Hernandez 63 Felipe Anderson 90              .

Booked: Robert Snodgrass 21 Mark Noble 32 Pablo Zabaleta 43      .

Sent off: None.

Newcastle United

Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Manquillo, Ritchie (Atsu 54), Diane, Ki, Kenedy (Shelvey 70), Perez (Joselu 78), Rondon.

Substitutes: .

Subs not used: Woodman, Clark, Lascelles, Longstaff.

Goals: .

Booked: Ritchie (41), Yedlin (89).

Sent Off: .

 
Chris Wilkerson's Man of the Match: Felipe Anderson


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