Premier League
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-1 West Ham United 

Saturday, 15th May 2021
by Chris Wilkerson

Another disappointing display and performance left West Ham only with a draw at Brighton this evening, and waving goodbye to their faint Champions League hopes. It was a late goal from substitute Said Benrahma that saved the day for West Ham, the equaliser coming in a dramatic final ten minutes in which Welbeck had given his side the lead.

It was again a laboured West Ham display, limping to the finish line this season and unable to take snap chances against a team who looked comfortable defending deep. Like with Everton and Newcastle, West Ham found they had little answer to dogged defending.

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There were changes to the side, with Ogbonna, Rice and Bowen all coming back into the starting line up. Rice was quickly into the rhythm of the game, but may not have been bypassed so easily for the Brighton goal had he been fully fit and sharp.

As ever with West Ham against Brighton, the Hammers were poor. The game itself was not an easy watch, sprinkles of quality settling alongside slow and uninventive football from both sides. Each were very capable until they reached the outside of the penalty area, a place where promising moves went to die in this game.

Moyes?EUR(TM)s side grew into the game, and finished the first half at some pace. For the most part, however, it was football that looked good until the final pass needed to be made or a finishing touch applied. As with all these clutch games recently, the side has looked blunt going forward when they needed not to be.

The best moments came from or fell to the irrepressible Pablo Fornals, but a combination of last-ditch defending and a lack of killer instinct often caught the Spaniard out. One spectacular spin with his back to goal took two defenders out of the game, but Fornals lacks the pace to take advantage and was soon caught and stopped.

Soon it had fallen for him again, with a wonderful passing move leading to an excellent cutback by Cresswell. Fornals controlled well, but had a multitude of Brighton bodies in front of the goal and could not guide it around them with his shot. An identical move down the right led to the same predicament, with too many Brighton defenders in the box for West Ham?EUR(TM)s attackers to be able to shoot through.

As such, the teams went in at 0-0, West Ham bossing the second half of the opening 45, really looking the only team threatening to score. With that promise in mind, and surely luck turning their way eventually, West Ham came out unchanged.

They were soon causing Brighton the same issues on the width of the penalty area and Bowen nearly forced a lucky goal. His cross was flick by the defender into his own goalkeeper?EUR(TM)s face only yards from goal, but the team Graeme Souness says everything falls for were again left with no luck on their side.

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West Ham would have looked to grow into and dominate the second half, but the intensity soon dipped, whilst the performances of Antonio and Lingard left much to be desired. Poor decision making and tiredness combined to soften their threat and Brighton soon started to threaten.

Yet for all the passing football, their best chance came from a long diagonal that Cresswell should have dealt with. Instead the ball ricocheted into the area and Tau raced against Fabianski to get to it first. The attacker won, beating Fabianski with his shot too and only just missing the open net from a very tight angle.

It was a sign of the space opening up in this game, and a vacuum was soon left in the middle. Lingard and Antonio were finding the energy to attack but not defend, giving Brighton free path to the midfield. As Rice and Soucek tried to deal with the easy possession ahead of them, keeping hold of the runners around them became harder.

Brighton began to look more dangerous, and at the very least looked to have confidence in their patterns of play. West Ham looked devoid of any, with individuals trying ambitious or outlandish shots when given any space. Antonio and Lingard were again guilty, although some may question why Fornals attempted a volleyed backheel from a cross.

Moyes turned to his bench only once, introducing Benrahma for Bowen around the seventy-minute mark, as is tradition. The Algerian added energy and vision, the latter clearly missing from everyone but Fornals in forward areas.

It was he who presented Dawson with the best chance of the game. An inch perfect cross found the centre back unmarked in the middle of goal and 10 yards out, but his header rolled wide.

A minute later, Brighton scored.

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It was the gap in the middle that caused it. Brighton passed out from their defence and through Soucek and Rice with absolute ease. Tau picked it up centrally, behind the two midfielders and then played the perfect pass as Welbeck casually ran away from Dawson.

He ran on into the area, chipped Fabianski as he dived low at the ball and found the back of the net to give Brighton an undeserved but not unsurprising lead. Brighton may not have deserved it, but you could argue West Ham did. The punishment came from an avenue they had neglected to shut off and the side should have scored earlier.

Instead they now chased a point that could be valuable in securing some form of European football, but is surely too little for qualification to the Champions League.

When someone needed to stand up, finally a man who needed a moment got one.

An attack that forced Brighton to defend with desperation once more led to a ball collected on the edge of the area by Benrahma. He took his time and guided in a beautiful finish of the inside of the post to level for the Hammers and score his first goal for the club. Unfashionable with a section of West Ham support, he looked fitter and comfortably better than the majority of the players on the pitch.

With two minutes plus stoppage time to go, West Ham looked they had given all they had. There was to be no more drama, just the spoils shared as West Ham once again failed to beat Brighton in the Premier League. Maybe you shouldn?EUR(TM)t be allowed to compete in the Champions League if you can?EUR(TM)t ever beat Brighton.

From here it is fingers crossed for results around us, and the hope that maybe this team can still finish above Arsenal, Everton, Spurs and even Liverpool.

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Player Ratings

Lukasz Fabianski
A couple of comfortable saves but easily beaten for the goal and nearly conceded thanks to rushing out against Tau too. Goes down too early and he should have maybe learned from the earlier one.

Vladimir Coufal
Not his finest game but he still delivered at both ends of the pitch. Arguably the player of the season, it?EUR(TM)s hard to think of him even having bad spells in games, let alone bad games.

Aaron Cresswell
Attacking he gets an 8. But his defending was a worry today. Backing off tackles he should be winning to protect in case he loses and gets beat, letting Tau in too. Fornals either holds his hand or Cresswell couldn?EUR(TM)t defend.

Craig Dawson
Had some fine moments, a couple of tackles that may well have saved chances on goal. But he is so easily beaten by a turn of pace and should have scored too.

Angelo Ogbonna
Relatively quiet for Ogbonna. Did his job with little fuss but that?EUR(TM)s ideally what you want from a defender. Good game to get used to playing again without being really tested.

Declan Rice
Not at his best, but made tackles and interceptions in this game that no other West Ham player would or could. Not as influential going forward as he has been this season and he tired as the game went on.

Tomas Soucek
Tried his best to be everywhere and had a good game. One piledriver blocked looked like it was going in and he did get on the end of a couple crosses. He had to sit in more as Rice?EUR(TM)s energy sapped, and as the attackers stopped doing their defensive work. Reads the game well and knows what his side needs from him.

Pablo Fornals
Should be walking away from this game close to a 10/10 and with goals. But a lack of instinct seems to just halt the brilliance from turning into a flood of goals. There is no smarter West Ham player on that pitch, his passing, teamwork, discipline and ingenuity fantastic. A little extra pace would make him one of the league?EUR(TM)s best, although even then he would still need to be better in the opposition penalty area.

Jarrod Bowen
Bowen gets a harsh rap in many ways. He probably influences the attack less than others because he?EUR(TM)s busting a gut to defend, to cover, to keep shape and then get forward to be the winger. His discipline and work rate were the positives, but his play in the final third wasn?EUR(TM)t good enough.

Jesse Lingard
A harsh one, especially as his first half was very good. But he needs to share responsibility in attack. He takes over moves or tries individual things that, as we have seen, look great when they come off. But when they aren?EUR(TM)t, he?EUR(TM)s just losing the ball and wasting the energy of players around him. The second half was very frustrating, he should be better and it?EUR(TM)s another game he maybe gets to finish because of reputation not how he?EUR(TM)s playing. You wouldn?EUR(TM)t sign this Lingard.

Michail Antonio
The same as Lingard. Involved in the dangerous play first half, but then he tired, drifted wide and started being caught in areas where he could not be as dangerous. There is an argument about what kind of striker this West Ham side needs, and it needs more of an Antonio than a Calvert-Lewin. But it does lack a striker who is in the right areas, working hard in the right places and making runs that players know are being made without looking. A lot of strikers, you know where they?EUR(TM)ll be. Antonio doesn?EUR(TM)t have that.


Said Benrahma
(Replaced Bowen, 63) Game changer for West Ham. His cross to Dawson was the best of the game, his goal a brilliant effort and something none of his teammates had looked capable of. It?EUR(TM)s a shame he started out wide, he was clearly the man needed in the middle to change things.

Darren Randolph
Did not play.

Ryan Fredericks
Did not play.

Ben Johnson
Did not play.

Fabian Balbuena
Did not play.

Issa Diop
Did not play.

Mark Noble
Did not play.

Andriy Yarmolenko
Did not play.

Ademipo Odubeko
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, Aaron Cresswell, Craig Dawson, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Pablo Fornals, Jarrod Bowen, Jesse Lingard, Michail Antonio.

Goals: Said Benrahma 87                  .

Booked: None.

Sent off: None.

Brighton & Hove Albion: Sanchez, White, Webster, Burn, Moder, Gross, Bissouma, Alzate (Lallana 66), Jahanbakhsh (Tau 72), Trossard (Zeqiri 82), Welbeck.

Subs not used: Steele, Karbownik, Caicedo, Mac Allister, Connolly, Andone.

Goals: Welbeck (84).

Booked: Bissouma (18).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Andre Marriner.

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: Said Benrahma.