West Ham United 1 Burnley 0
Saturday, 16th January 2021
by Chris Wilkerson
West Ham gave a determined and gritty performance to beat Burnley 1-0 at home this afternoon, moving David Moyes' side into eighth place in the table.In a match that had all the hallmarks of the usual offerings against Burnley, the added resolve in this side put an end to a horrible run of form against the visitors, The Hammers having lost three in a row against their guests without scoring prior to this.
There were two changes from the last time they team played in the Premier League, with Lukasz Fabianski fit to play and Michail Antonio making his first start since recovering from injury. As the only senior striker at the club, his form and fitness is more important than ever.
From the off, his presence added a dimension to the side that has been missing in his absence. For whatever strengths it can be argued Haller has, Antonio forces sides to worry about pace in behind, and the forward hustles and bustles in a way that only enhances his attacking threat.
However, with all that said, it was the instincts of a goal scorer that provided the difference between the two teams.
After a steady start, it was the front four working in unison and at their best that gave West Ham the lead. Benrahma picked the ball up in a pocket of space in the Burnley half and he slid through a lovely ball as Bowen sprinted from outside to in and got behind the defence.
He was forced wide down the left of the area, but Fornals was there for the layoff. The Spaniard looked up and curled a teasing ball to the back post. It reached Antonio, but only just, skimming off the head of a defender in front of him. But whilst Brady stayed motionless marking him, Antonio reacted instantly to prod the ball into the bottom corner and give his side the lead inside ten minutes.
The energy in the attack was everything you want from this front four, the speed and incisive passing, good movement and an understanding of how each other will play. That little bit of extra space afforded just by Antonio?EUR(TM)s presence paid dividends, and the man himself became only the fourth West Ham player to reach 40 goals in the Premier League.
It gave the team confidence, and throughout much of the first half they were the better team. The defensive plan looked clear too, and whilst Burnley had their moments of pressure, never did Wood or Barnes look to have the beating of Ogbonna and Dawson marking them.
They hadn?EUR(TM)t the pace to concern them, whilst West Ham?EUR(TM)s central defensive pair are more than up for the scrappier, uglier side of defending too. The closest the away side came was a Cresswell own goal that was correctly ruled out for an offside in the build-up.
West Ham on the other hand seemed comfortable, although it may be a minor concern that the away side still had more possession in the first half.
Still, they weathered the Burnley spells of pressure and were unlucky not to go into the break with a two-goal lead, a whipped corner from Bowen delightfully flicked on at the front post by Rice, and Ogbonna and Mee combined to bundle the ball against the post and away.
Going into the break, Moyes and his side would have been the happier camp, Burnley not really clicking into anything that seemed threatening, whilst surely frustrated to see Antonio score so easily after a cross into their box.
West Ham came back out unchanged, whilst Sean Dyche brought Dwight McNeil on to add more presence and running down the wings. McNeil added spark to his side, and the threat from his crosses certainly forced West Ham more concern than at any point in the opening 45 minutes.
All the same, it was West Ham who came closest to scoring throughout the half.
Six minutes after the restart, it looked like Antonio had scored again. A curling Coufal cross from the right evaded the defenders and came to the forward, but as his header bounced beyond Pope and into the far corner, Mee got himself back on the line to clear away and keep his side only a goal behind.
The home side continued to threaten, and wasted multiple openings. Jarrod Bowen was most guilty, twice getting into the area in dangerous positions and delaying his shot before the opportunity was gone, defenders recovering or finishing too rushed and poor. It was a shame, on both occasions he had done spectacularly to get into the position, one after a nutmeg on Ben Mee, another when miraculously controlling a ball that dropped out of the sky and bounced sharply onto his chest.
Rice threatened, powering in a freekick at goal that Pope likely had covered had it gone on target, Fornals was unlucky to see a half-volley blocked by desperate Burnley defending and even an Antonio shot that went so wide it curled off for a throw.
Burnley got braver as time started to run out. They pressed higher and went more direct, forcing West Ham onto the back foot. Lanzini replaced Benrahma, the Argentine much better defensively and more capable of playing inside his own half too, but it seemed to only usher Burnley forward.
A Ben Mee header that went just wide after a ball launched into the area was an indication of what was to come and it may be argued that the manager was too cautious, his tactics only inviting the opponents to attack. It should be noted that Benrahma played well and looked potent on the counter whilst others looked tired.
However, there were very few chances created as time ticked away. McNeil came closest with an errant cross that flew over Fabianski and skimmed the crossbar.
In turn, Dawson and Ogbonna stood up to their task with even more resolve, the former in his element with some brave defending and important interventions in his own area.
With Burnley piling forward, space opened up on the counter attack. More than once West Ham flew forward and looked dangerous, most notably when Antonio, Lanzini and Fornals combined to find Bowen in space in the area, only for him to dally once more and find Burnley able to tackle and recover.
Another big chance wasted. Antonio gets onto it on the run and lays off to Lanzini. He plays inside to Fornals, out to the right for Bowen who has space and time to shoot but again takes too long and is tackled 81
He was replaced moments later, although in his defence Yarmolenko was guilty of the same error. As a counter attack had West Ham three against one, the winger took too many touches and chose the wrong option in the area. He shifted the ball onto his right foot and his shot was blocked when an easy pass across goal would have left Antonio with as easy an opportunity as he could get.
In the end, as Burnley continued their pressure but failed to create chances, the tension was palpable and the final whistle a blessed relief.
A win against a tricky opponent, however tight it ended up, was enough to push Moyes?EUR(TM)s side into eighth in the table. It gave Moyes his first win over Dyche, as well as seeing his side keep a fourth consecutive clean sheet since Dawson?EUR(TM)s introduction into the starting eleven.
The win was solid, with Burnley unable to find the vulnerabilities they usually expose against West Ham. This time, they came up against a side with much more resolve, and whilst some of the flair was slowly sacrificed for hard work, West Ham could easily have had three or four in a game where their opponents created nothing.
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Player RatingsLukasz Fabianski
Good command of his area today and never really threatened. A touch slow on his feet, and Barnes left enough on him as a reminder to hurry up.
A couple times he was beaten by McNeil, but otherwise very solid and dependable at the back, whilst providing well further forward.
Made the most passes in a West Ham shirt and was accurate doing so, in contrast to a sloppier performance for the a lot of the team with their passing accuracy. This is the kind of game that his detractors would suggest he would be exposed in, yet he was never daunted by the task and played well.
Not much with the ball at his feet, but there?EUR(TM)s something of the James Collins about how he defends. The type of defender who probably relished the bloody nose he was given in his work.
Can do all the dirty work like Dawson, but also much better on the ball and defending against faster players or with space behind him. As ever, just calmly brilliant, really. A lot of headers won, clearance and blocks. The one time he got turned, he makes it so hard to go around him that not much was gained.
Whilst Soucek was the busier defensively, Rice did his work efficiently and was charged with more playmaking. He played well, his long range passing accurate and smart, and he often launched and supported good counter attacks.
Whilst quieter as an attacking threat in this game, he thrived defensively against Burnley?EUR(TM)s more rudimental approach. He was aggressive in the tackle, won eight headers and did a lot to stop the physical threat of the opponents.
He does need to sharpen up in front of goal, he should have had at least one today, he still provided well from wide, stretched the defence with his runs in behind and troubled with his quick feet and smart dribbling. A good game that should have been a brilliant one.
Provided the assist with a lovely curling cross and worked as hard as ever to support Cresswell in defence and any attacks too. At one point he cleared a ball down the line then ran after it to press the defender because no one else did.
Probably harshly taken off, definitely sacrificed for a more cautious player and approach. Lively, overplayed a touch around the box early on, but a great eye for a pass and just fantastic at dribbling in difficult areas. Fits in perfectly with the endeavour in that front four that is around him and looks to have the skill to pick out their movement and encourage them to be braver with it.
Good goal, great to see him showing that striker?EUR(TM)s instinct, as well as surviving the 90 minutes. He slowed down as the game went on, basically only coming to life when a chance for the counter was on, but his presence brought so much life to the attack.
(Replaced Benrahma, 68) Defended well, linked attacks and is very good at quick touches and seeing movement. A lively performance, yet responsible and pragmatic too.
(Replaced Bowen, 82) Should have done better with the late opening, but to his credit he came on and worked hard, did his defensive shift and that is the worry with him, whether he will be a liability defensively.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play. Other unused subs: Mark Noble, Ademipo Odubeko.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, Aaron Cresswell, Craig Dawson, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Jarrod Bowen, Pablo Fornals, Said Benrahma, Michail Antonio.
Goals: Michail Antonio 9 .
Booked: Tomas Soucek 73 Angelo Ogbonna 83 .
Sent off: None.
Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters, Gudmundsson (McNeil 46), Westwood, Brownhill, Brady, Wood (Rodriguez 72), Barnes (Vydra 63).
Subs not used: Norris, Bardsley, Long, Benson, Cork, Stephens.
Booked: Barnes (62).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh.
Man of the Match: Craig Dawson.