Newcastle United 3 West Ham United 2
Saturday, 17th April 2021
by Chris Wilkerson
After weeks of build up, the wheels came off the West Ham bus this week, a calamitous defensive performances handing Newcastle United three points when the gap in quality between the two sides was otherwise so clear.A shambolic five minutes saw West Ham gift the hosts two goals, whilst Craig Dawson was sent off for a second yellow card in between, that eventually saw Newcastle claim the 3-2 victory.
It was nearly so different, the Hammers fighting back in the second half to get on level terms, before Newcastle?EUR(TM)s extra man paid dividends and they scored a late winner to set West Ham back in their chase for European football, and likely securing their own survival and Steve Bruce?EUR(TM)s future at the club (there?EUR(TM)s your silver lining).
In a game with little incident or entertainment for a large portion of the first half, it was up to the West Ham defence to inject some drama into proceedings. An own goal, a red card and the simplest of handling errors later and that European adventure looked a lot further away. The wheels had come off, and the journey was to be finished in a clown car.
There was little to say of the first 45 until then. With about 35 minutes on the clock, Diop lost the ball in midfield, Dawson threw himself into a tackle he could never win, took out his man recklessly and helped in no perceivable way as the attack continued. A late tackle with advantage played would not have earned Dawson a yellow. Equally, his first yellow was foolish, a clear foul made when beaten easily by a runner, but a runner who was covered by other defenders. Some may note his performances have gotten notably worse as he goes from loanee to permanent signing.
The ball carried on forward, Saint-Maximin held up by Noble but his weak shot rolling past Fabianski, into one of Diop?EUR(TM)s feet and back off the other one to ricochet into the net and hand Newcastle the lead.
Five minutes later, Fabianski took that even more literally, handing the ball down to Joelinton at his toes as a corner curled right into his hands. It was a quite unbelievable error from a goalkeeper so secure in his basics. Suddenly the side had given away two goals from clear errors, having only done so once beforehand all season. It left the home side 2-0 up at the break and a flat West Ham with a mountain to climb.
To their credit, they had controlled the ball with eleven men and did so with ten, although it is very much what Newcastle allow. The performance with the ball improved greatly too. There were chances aplenty, whereas the first half had seen Dubravka tested once.
The energy levels remained high, a real positive giving the fading light in recent second half performances. The Hammers could have easily scored enough to win this game, with Bowen and Coufal both guilty of missing chances from tight angles.
Pressure built and eventually told. Bowen, playing with a freedom and confidence missing from his game for months, created the first. His run from the right to a central area gave him the space to dink in a delightful ball for Diop, the defender getting behind the Newcastle backline and heading low into the bottom corner from just inside the area. With 20 minutes to go, West Ham had their way back into the game.
With 10 minutes to go, they too were handed one by their opponents. This time it was a ball into the box, and Ciaran Clark?EUR(TM)s arm on Soucek?EUR(TM)s head struck the ball. A monitor check from the referee convinced the official to award the penalty, which Lingard drilled into the net for the parity West Ham deserved.
Unfortunately for them, with no other option, Newcastle decided to get on the ball and make their extra player pay. Not only did they have the extra player, they had also sat deep and forced West Ham to work hard breaking them down. The energy levels were in stark contrast.
It helped as West Ham legs tired and the pressure moved back onto them. There was an instant shift from priority being entirely attack to a balance of defending, and a new threat as Newcastle finally looked to play football.
They appeared to have won it when Almiron beat Fabianski with a shot inside the area, only for Johnson to save on the line. Moments later, it was Johnson again who was needed for some last ditch defending.
But this time he was beaten. The cross from the left was met by Willock, the Arsenal-loanee beating Johnson in the air and powering a header into the centre of the goal. That power and the height was enough to beat Fabianski, who will feel he was poor on each of the Newcastle goals.
There was nothing left in the tank for West Ham, the 10-men bravely battling but the injuries, suspensions and bad luck was just too much on this day. Lingard was forced off with an injury too, but he walked off and looked only to have cramp.
The defeat, inevitable for those who see Newcastle and have the flashbacks, gives Liverpool and Chelsea a clear path to go above David Moyes?EUR(TM)s side this week. They play Leeds and Brighton respectively before Tuchel?EUR(TM)s Champions League semi-finalists come to the London Stadium for a season-defining tie next weekend.
West Ham will hope to have players back, but will have to adapt once more to another missing player as Dawson serves his suspension. Masuaku may return, but the patched-up Hammers may be finding the final step is just one too far. Who knows, this West Ham team never seems to make much sense at all.
David Moyes will look at this game and see both sides of the coin. The bad was blatant and costly, but the good was the attitude, getting two goals with ten-men and looking the better side regardless. With the squad stretched, the manager will truly be a miracle worker if he gets this team into that top four now.
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Player RatingsLukasz Fabianski
Could conceivably have done better, and prevented each goal. The second was entirely him, just shambolic, whilst the first was weak and within his reach. The third was full of power, but it would have been nothing more than a good save.
One of the few to come out with any credit. Did his job reasonably well defensively, but it was what he put into the attacking effort that is worth praise. He never stopped running up and down the flank, had the most touches of any player on the pitch and kept the side going in difficult circumstances.
He was poor first half, the whole left side completely reshaped from the game before and the dynamism of it gone. He came into the game and looked more comfortable as a full-back rather than a wing-back. His crossing with his right was dangerous, although his shooting quite the opposite. There?EUR(TM)s a player in there and he?EUR(TM)s an asset to the squad.
Arguably, this game is entirely different were the referee to blow for the foul on Diop just before he lost the ball in the first goal. It?EUR(TM)s hard to know just how he ends up kicking the ball in. Otherwise, he was shaky but not catastrophic, whilst he took his goal very well.
It was the kind of performance West Ham fans expected to be regular a occurrence from Dawson, and it was a complete horror show. The first yellow was an unnecessary and lumbering challenge of a defender who had no awareness of his surroundings. The second was as pointless too, throwing himself into it when he had players behind him and was very late.
A solid return for Ogbonna was thrown into turmoil by the insanity around him. He came in as the Cresswell, but isn?EUR(TM)t as good a passer and then his team lost the plot. He did well defensively and tried to push up the left channel when we had eleven on the field. Having him back as a central member of a three or one of the two will be a big lift, but we still conceded three goals.
Battled on gamely, getting into the box yet holding the midfield too. As ever, a little bit awkward sometimes on the ball, but his quality is such that his bad games are nowhere near as poor as others. The bother he causes defenders was enough to earn an innocuous penalty.
Did well to keep with and delay Saint-Maximin for the first goal, shepherding him wide and making the shot difficult. What they did behind him was ridiculous. Passed well once settled, had a range of passing in the middle that helped move the ball creatively as we probed to break them down. Left for dead by Saint-Maximin in the middle a couple times, but faster players were too.
Played reasonably well, neat and tidy for the most part, but doesn?EUR(TM)t shine as much against team that defend deep. Less ball to win back and start counters, less work off the ball allowed due to space. Made a couple vital interventions on counters, linked passes through the middle well too.
Reasonable performance too. The shambles behind the attack made it a very difficult game but Lingard kept popping up in different areas and trying to ask questions of Newcastle?EUR(TM)s defence. Converted well from the spot. In questionable performances recently, Lingard?EUR(TM)s individual brilliance has won points. Today it couldn?EUR(TM)t.
The standout attacking performer. His assist was brilliant and created by his own vision and hard work. The striker role is still not ideal, he isn?EUR(TM)t a cutthroat goalscorer, but it has allowed him to do his defensive work up the field and have more energy on the ball.
(Replaced Noble, 75) It looked like he was trying too hard, but there was one ball in particular that Clark was so lucky not to turn into his own net, and he maybe would have had Bowen been making the run and putting the pressure on ?EUR" the kind of gamble he doesn?EUR(TM)t take as willingly as a natural striker.
(Replaced Lingard, 87) Looked comfortable on the ball, but he?EUR(TM)s not a dynamic final third player. If anything, he is closer to a natural central midfielder and may be of use as a Noble substitute or replacement, depending on the game.
(Replaced Johnson, 90) Brought on with the game gone.
Did not play.
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Match FactsWest Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, Ben Johnson, Issa Diop, Craig Dawson, Angelo Ogbonna, Tomas Soucek, Mark Noble, Pablo Fornals, Jesse Lingard, Jarrod Bowen.
Goals: Issa Diop 73 Jesse Lingard 79 .
Booked: Craig Dawson 12 .
Sent Off: Craig Dawson 36 .
Newcastle United: Dubravka, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Murphy, Shelvey, S Longstaff (Willock 81), Ritchie, Saint-Maximin (Wilson 64), Almiron, Joelinton (Carroll 90+7).
Subs not used: Gillespie, Gayle, Lewis, Hendrick, Krafth, Manquillo.
Goals: Diop (36 og), Joelinton (41), Willock (83).
Booked: Shelvey (16), Murphy (90+6).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Kevin Friend.
Man of the Match: Jarrod Bowen.