Premier League
Crystal Palace 1-0 West Ham United 

Tuesday, 3rd December 2013
by Staff Writer

West Ham slumped to a miserable defeat away to bottom of the table Crystal Palace - and once again, a hugely controversial decision cost the Hammers dear.

Having fallen behind just before the half time break to Marouane Chamakh's second goal of the season, West Ham thought they'd drawn level on 63 minutes when Stewart Downing's volley found the back of the net.

However the winger's 'goal' was ruled out when the referee's assistant flagged for an infringement - although TV replays simply revealed that if anything, the decision should have been given the other way for shirt-pulling.

The defeat - another to add to the list of morale-sapping reversals against teams such as Norwich, Stoke and Hull already this season - leaves the Hammers in a perilous position at the bottom of the Premier League.

And with matches again Liverpool, Arsenal and Man Utd to follow before the end of December it certainly isn't going to get any easier for Sam Allardyce and his poorly-performing squad.

Yet until Chamakh's 42nd-minute goal, West Ham looked good for their first back-to-back wins since returning to the Premier League. Much like at Norwich last month, the Hammers controlled much of the half but failed to seriously threaten Julian Speroni's goal.

However another moment of madness - symptomatic of recent weeks - was to cost United dear.

A poor corner was only half cleared and the resulting loose ball sent back into the box. Chamakh, who flopped horribly at both Arsenal and West Ham before turning up in South London lost marker Joey O'Brien and flicked the ball deftly into the far corner.

Kevin Nolan, whose own dreadful form this season has made him the latest target of terrace critics paid the price for his inability to positively influence the game by being hauled off with less than an hour on the clock. Five minutes later Downing thought he had levelled the scores, but it wasn't to be.

For all West Ham's possession in the final third of the game, Speroni barely had a save to make - although he had to be alert when Stewart Downing's dipping free kick finally forced him into action on 74 minutes.

If anything, Palace - despite being content to sit deep and counter having gained the advantage - looked the more likely to score and Jussi Jaaskelainen had to be at his very best to prevent their lead being doubled on two occasions in the opening ten minutes of the second period.

Sam Allardyce will no doubt point to the massive error by the linesman in his post-match summary but that will simply serve to paper over some very obvious cracks. Whilst many cling to the hope that the return of Andy Carroll will provide the catalyst to a change in fortune, West Ham's current problems run much deeper than that.

Be it a goalkeeper who is often erratic (not today), a defence that is clearly missing its linchpin, a captain who's failing to pull his weight or a strike force that - well, simply doesn't exist, West Ham are in serious trouble; make no bones about it.

They'll have to manage without Ravel Morrison, whose post-match booking for striking an opponent earned him a fifth booking of the season and subsequent one-match ban, but what better time to go to Anfield and finally end that 51-year hoodoo?

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Player Ratings

Jussi Jaaskelainen
A couple of times he went walkabout. A couple of times he brilliant saves in one-on-one situations. The best of a bad bunch.

Joey O Brien
Far from his best.

Razvan Rat
He seems to play either very well or very poorly. He wasn't so great tonight.

James Collins
Didn't really do a great deal wrong tonight but still leaves you wondering when the next error is coming.

James Tomkins
Still prone to being caught by the long ball, but dealt relatively comfortably with Palace's main threats.

Mark Noble
Unable to impose himself on the game in his usual fashion.

Mo Diame
Possibly West Ham's biggest threat from deep but he still flatters to deceive in the final third.

Ravel Morrison
A couple of good bursts and some sublime passing but nowhere near as effective as last Saturday when featuring as an impact sub.

Kevin Nolan
Massively out of sorts right now. Still a huge call for Big Sam to drop his captain.

Stewart Downing
Very lively but it would have been nice to see him go outside his man rather than continuously cut inside - which made him very easy to defend against. Daft decision to rule out his perfectly legitimate goal.

Carlton Cole
In the starting XI - but offered very little to suggest he should keep his place.


Modibo Maiga
Very little impact in the half-hour or so he was on.

Joe Cole
Barely involved; his best moments came when cutting inside rather than exploiting the flank.

George McCartney
Asked to work the flank for the final 15 minutes or so although provided little of note.

Did not play.

Guy Demel
Did not play.

Jack Collison
Did not play.

Matt Jarvis
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Joey O Brien, Razvan Rat, James Collins, James Tomkins, Mark Noble, Mo Diame, Ravel Morrison, Kevin Nolan, Stewart Downing, Carlton Cole.

Goals: None.

Booked: James Tomkins 67 Ravel Morrison 90        .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni, Joel Ward, Danny Gabbidon, Damien Delaney, Dean Moxey, Jason Puncheon, Mile Jedinak, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Barry Bannan, Marouane Chamakh, Cameron Jerome.

Subs not used: Adrian Mariappa, Lewis Price, Dwight Gayle, Kevin Phillips.

Goals: Chamakh (42).

Booked: None booked..

Sent off: None.

Referee: Lee Mason.

Attendance: 23,891.

Man of the Match: Jussi Jaaskelainen.