West Ham United 0 Newcastle United 2
Saturday, 12th September 2020
by Chris Wilkerson
A quite lifeless performance saw the misery of pre-season carry on into the real football as Newcastle took all three points once more from the London Stadium.Who else but Callum Wilson broke the deadlock on debut for his new side, with Jeff Hendrick grabbing the second as time ticked away for an easy 2-0 victory.
With no new signings to inject energy into this team, a predictable West Ham side started like the side they were for most of last season: horrendous.
It continued for most of the match, sprinkles of hope littering a mostly horrible display, the home side twice hitting the bar when they had otherwise threatened nothing else. No fluency, no threat, no chance.
The visitors started with a front two of Wilson and Carroll, enough to strike fear in the hearts of any West Ham fan who believes in the cruel hand of fate. The former Hammer was as he ever was, elbows, headers and minimal goal threat; Tomas Soucek introduced to a standard Carroll challenge within a minute.
For the rest of the half, those in claret and blue might have wished Diop had ever judged a high ball well enough to even be flattened by the big Geordie, so consistently did the Frenchman lose long balls or crosses in the air and see them fly over his head.
Bypassing the midfield and working it wide for regular crosses, Newcastle seemed keen to bully the young defender, as well as full backs Fredericks and Cresswell. Their first chance came from a corner, Fernandez allowed to waltz in at the front post and flick towards goal, Fabianski saving well.
West Ham responded with a chance from a set piece of their own, a floated Noble cross headed off the bar by Ogbonna, the goalkeeper possibly beaten as it dipped towards goal.
There were brief moments of incident, an Antonio drive causing some excitement for West Ham before Soucek came inches from scoring. Fredericks did well to find the midfielder and the header was inches from finding the corner.
These were glimpses of something in a performance lacking any real meaning, plan or reason. To compound this, Declan Rice was having one of his worst games in a West Ham shirt, caught multiple times in possession leading to dangerous counter attacks.
A small slither of hope can be drawn from Soucek covering him, showing at least there could be some balance in the midfield this year. Whilst grasping at that straw, the Irons were nearly punished by Diop's inability to get his head to the ball, once more jumping under a high one that Carroll stepped back and judged, cushioning the ball beautifully on his chest only to see his volley deflected over.
Steve Bruce's side were definitely the better of the two, although one might question whether performances against West Ham are really a barometer for Newcastle's success.
Still, they had a game to manage, a game to win, and one that West Ham occasionally reminded them they could lose. Once more Fredericks provided a ball into the box, and this time Fornals was unlucky to see his effort hit the crossbar. The cross itself was poor, but it did bobble to the Spaniard and he was unlucky not to score.
If only to really underline how little optimism must remain, he picked up the cleared corner around half way and managed to underhit his back-pass horrendously, Saint-Maximin sprinting onto it and only halted by a burst of acceleration from Fredericks.
Fornals nearly playa through Saint-Maximin. Tries to pass back to goal and it?EUR(TM)s not even half way there. ASM gets onto it behind Fred but the full back catches up as the acceleration kicks in and stops a one-on-one.
Half time came and went, the teams unchanged and the performance much the same, slowly and incrementally getting worse. Ten minutes in, Wilson struck.
A cross from the left proved fatal, one of those occurrences that would be considered too regular to be coincidence at any other club, but again the downfall of West Ham. The deflected ball was flicked toward goal by Hendrick, and Wilson reacted fastest. He stabbed the ball home far too quickly for the flying fist of Fabianski, who looked a little too scared of going into the challenge properly.
Eventually, Moyes turned to his bench. Big money signings of days gone by were brought on, Haller and Yarmolenko replacing Fornals and Noble.
What did it change? Nothing, really. The service from wide remained poor, though Yarmolenko showed the endeavour and desire to make something happen that makes him somewhat unique as a West Ham substitute in 2020.
It all just drifted along, waiting for the inevitable second goal.
Hendrick provided it, marking his own debut with a goal too. Almiron was too strong for Fredericks on the Newcastle left, sliding the ball across the edge of the area to Hendrick.
He stopped, thought, took a touch and eventually just smashed the ball into the top corner as Cresswell stood a few metres off pretending to block.
Anderson appeared from the bench, quite suitably dragging himself on with all the enthusiasm of every West Ham fan watching him.
Newcastle were professional, solid and never out of second gear. And that's Newcastle not getting out of second gear. Take a look at the fixtures coming now.
If performances at the start of the season mirror the summer of preparation, lifeless was apt. It was dreadful too.
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Player RatingsLukasz Fabianski
Soft and scared on the first goal.
Most of the better attacking moments came from his work down the right, although sometimes his crossing seems just pure luck. Weak in defence.
Poor with the ball, poor off the ball, poor defensively. He might not be as bad as the extreme opinions of him, but he is lucky to be playing at all.
Looked like newcastle knew the weakness and carroll continually peeled off onto him and long balls followed. Diop missed most. There is potential and there are definitely good parts of his game, but someone needs to sort out the basics or he will jump under more long balls for no reason.
This game is much worse without Ogbonna. A couple of telling interventions and not once did he seem at all disturbed by the physicality of Carroll.
Worst West Ham performance. Lazy passing under no pressure and dangerously sloppy a few times when caught.
The one in midfield who made some sort of impression. Came very close with a header, cleaned up defensively a few times too.
A non-event. Started as a "10", drifted back as the midfield behind him failed to make simple passes, bypassed easily by Newcastle's use of Carroll.
Unlucky with the effort off the bar, found a few little good pockets of space too, but is hamstrung as a winger out left whose first job is to protect Cresswell.
Another who was there without making any impact on the game.
Appears convinced he can kick the ball through defenders. Brief moments of inspiration aside, it was a poor performance from the forward.
(Replaced Noble, 67) One header on target from a weak cross, made a nuisance of himself a couple times, but bringing him on changed the game in absolutely no notable way.
(Replaced Fornals, 67) For pure effort alone, he gets a reasonable rating. And he did have something about him, a hint of danger offered by no one else.
(Replaced Bowen, 88) Not on for long enough to influence the game.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Aaron Cresswell, Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Mark Noble, Pablo Fornals, Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio.
Booked: Ryan Fredericks Andriy Yarmolenko .
Sent off: None.
Newcastle United: Darlow, Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Lewis, Hendrick, Shelvey, Hayden, Saint-Maximin (Joelinton 75), Carroll (S.Longstaff 88), Wilson (Almiron 85).
Subs not used: Gillespie, Krafth, Ritchie, Fraser.
Goals: Wilson (56), Hendrick (87).
Booked: Hayden, Manquillo.
Sent off: None.
Referee: Stuart Attwell.
Man of the Match: Ryan Fredericks.