Brentford 2 West Ham United 0
Sunday, 10th April 2022
by Chris Wilkerson
West Ham put in their worst performance of the season this Sunday, beaten easily by Brentford 2-0. There was nothing to look positively upon, bar another fine Craig Dawson performance, the defender the only one who can come out of the game with any sort of credit, all the more impressive considering he was clearly hampered by an early facial injury that left blood gushing from his nose.After 45 minutes with ten-men against Lyon on Thursday, preparation was far from ideal, but the folly of not strengthening in January was only confirmed by how clearly the manager does not trust his reserves. David Moyes made three changes - bringing in Fabianski, Coufal and Lanzini - to the team that fought so gamely to draw midweek, and will have been embarrassed by how his team played. Fans will argue he could have freshened things up, and the fact he feels he cannot do so is an indictment on what he has in reserve and a sign of the work that needs to be done in the summer.
Truthfully, West Ham were so poor that thoughts drifted away from this game. The likes of Diop, Masuaku, Benrahma, Vlasic, Kral and Yarmolenko could not force their way into a tired team and the three who made it off the bench did nothing to improve a performance already at a lowest ebb. Vlasic may well survive due to still being somewhat new to the team, but there could be little argument made for any of the others being here next season. Benrahma may well suit a return to his old side, and he was greeted with applause by his former fans.
For the game itself, West Ham were roundly horrid from start to finish. Brentford started fast, preying on what they must have assumed would have been a tired West Ham side. They were right, and the Hammers struggled to get out of their own half early on.
Brentford pressed hard but were comfortable allowing West Ham ball once into the opposition half and then sitting back to be broken down. There was nothing to suggest the visitors could do so, nothing coming off through the middle or out wide.
The home side were unsurprisingly confident, fresh off a 4-1 mauling of Chelsea, and knew that a win today would all but confirm their survival in the Premier League. The win took them 12 points clear of Burnley, and it doesn?EUR(TM)t seem likely a team who lose to Norwich will win half their remaining games.
It was a horrible game to watch for any Hammer, and Brentford will have only grown more confident as they easily held off the feeble attacks from their visitors. When Zouma was forced off injured after a horrible, and unpunished, tackle in the middle of the park, they must have known today was their day.
There was little in the way of clear chances, but it didn?EUR(TM)t take an expert to notice how easily Brentford were finding it to manipulate and move around the West Ham defence. On multiple occasions, Mbuemo was found on the far side in acres of space as Cresswell was pulled in to cover the middle. His shooting boots hadn?EUR(TM)t come with him, but there?EUR(TM)s only so many opportunities you can give away before punishment.
The two most dangerous moments came as the half ticked away into stoppage time. A long ball from a freekick was headed on by Coufal and just onto the roof of his own goal as Brentford flooded the box once more.
At the other end, a clever corner routine saw Bowen hit a flat ball to the far post where Cresswell had managed to ghost in unmarked. At the crucial moment, the left back lost the ball and his volley at goal was ugly as he stretched and made poor contact.
It saw the sides go in level at 0-0, and Moyes?EUR(TM) side were lucky to have that after a disjointed and disappointing performance.
If you thought they couldn?EUR(TM)t play worse, the second half was there to mock your optimism.
It took three minutes for Brentford to open the scoring. A bad pass down the left behind Cresswell could have been easily dealt with, but the left back shirked responsibility and made Diop come over to deal with it. The Frenchman passed it down the line and out of play.
To concede from there was foolish, but a throw-in was still manageable. You?EUR(TM)d think so, anyway, but after a throw over Rice?EUR(TM)s head to Toney, the forward passed it through to Mbuemo, who had easily gotten goal side of Cresswell.
He took the shot early, and the half-volley rifled in at the near post. Fabianski will feel frustrated, the timing on the shot and the power hit, as well as the whole goal to aim at, mean it would have taken a very good save to have been stopped.
Benrahma was thrown on for Lanzini, but deserves no more discussion than that for how poor he played when he came on.
Antonio was getting increasingly worse up top, hampered by a lack of support and tired legs. He was eventually withdrawn for Vlasic, but you could sense the anger in a fanbase that just want a second striker at the club.
At least Antonio was getting involved. He was poor with it, but Bowen was anonymous, only having five more touches than Zouma. The defender went off after 28 minutes. Bowen has England aspirations, but the national side are very good these days, and it is hard to see a place for a player who goes missing so easily.
The goal didn't kick West Ham into life, which was only fitting. There was just no life left in these legs, and we can only they find some rest before Thursday's crucial second leg in Lyon.
Brentford soon realised they could push on once more to finish this game off. Toney was close to scoring after a lovely through pass by Eriksen, but Fabianski was sharp off his line to get there first.
It was only a brief respite. Soon the striker would have his goal, and a goal that encapsulated the game.
Antonio was played in through the Brentford defence by Bowen, but chose to stop and turn back when passes were on either side and he could have gone forward alone. Turning back, he tackled himself before losing the ball and Brentford broke.
From a prominent attacking position, suddenly West Ham were on the back foot. Henry was into the area down the left and chipped a ball to the far post. It beat the West Ham defence, but was volleyed back into the middle very smartly, and perfectly for Ivan Toney to get up high and head powerfully into the back of the net from inside the six-yard box. There were 25 minutes remaining, but the West Ham players looked like they would rather be anywhere else.
Vlasic eventually came on for Antonio, but it changed little. There were still time for Brentford chances, Diop making one brilliant intervention to block a volley and Dawson a fantastic challenge to stop Toney breaking through on goal.
Brentford comfortably managed the game through to its end. West Ham continued to have a lot of the ball, but passed poorly. They just never looked like scoring and there were too many players having easily their worst performance of the season.
It ended 2-0, three Premier League defeats in a row away from home and the opportunity to capitalise on the losses from Arsenal, Wolves and Manchester United completely thrown away. The fight for European football will likely go down to the wire, but West Ham cannot afford to play with such little energy if they want to be playing in a European tournament again next season.
David Moyes 4/10
The squad isn't good enough for his needs, but a good part of that can be laid at his door. He should know if his team is able to reach the required levels after a European game midweek, he could rotate his squad and give players a real chance to make an impact rather than giving them bits and pieces. And he needed to change things sooner. What was working so well that meant half time ended with no changes?
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Player RatingsLukasz Fabianski
Probably could have done better on the goal, but the criticism for being beaten at the near post is always overblown. The shot was superbly struck and impossible for Fabianski to read early.
Defended reasonably well and worked hard up and down the flank, but struggled to do anything with the ball. Was not helped by having the ghost of Jarrod Bowen ahead of him.
Silly, lazy decisions in two games have been costly. Whether the red card should have been or not, Cresswell's decision was poor. Today, he should be able to take possession of a ball he has to run back at goal and collect. Diop didn't do brilliantly, but it should have been easily dealt with by Cresswell.
Wasn't enjoying his game before the tackle. Should have been a yellow card, but the real concern is whether he returns in time for Thursday. His form has been poor the last few games, but his poor form is better than Diop playing.
The only one who came out of the game with any credit. He has been the best player in this West Ham side for at least a month, if not two or three.
Could have used the ball better, whether that be more ambitious passing or taking on the runs himself, but was hampered by an awful team around him.
Soucek didn't play particularly well, and there were a few occasions where his awkward passing was frustrating, but he played with so little ahead of him to use. Antonio was poor, and increasingly so, whilst Bowen would have been more use if he'd sat down.
Abysmal. Can only hope that it was tiredness, because the winger just didn't do anything. It almost became impressive how he managed to stay away from play.
As Pablo always does, he tried to work hard and make things happen. It didn't work. Some of the brighter moments, or hints of moments, involved his passing, but it was not a good performance, just without being quite as bad as some others.
Just didn't seem to get into things like he usually does. Probably because Brentford didn't use the midfield, and seemed happy to sit off when it did get through into midfield areas. West Ham got worse when he went off, especially at getting out of their own defence, and at least he got a bit of game time again before Thursday.
Just got worse and worse. Actively hampered his team in the second half. Unsurprising, does anybody really think Antonio is the type of player to play up front alone in a ten-man performance and then look capable three days later?
(Replaced Zouma, 29) One very important challenge, and he did look more comfortable on the ball than everyone but Dawson and Rice. Let down by an awful Cresswell, and whilst he wasn't good, it's difficult to come into a game that's 30 minutes old.
(Replaced Lanzini, 57) Not quite as bad as Bowen and Antonio, but pretty awful. Unlike Thursday, where things he tried nearly came off and he was a nuisance even in his failures, today he looked half-paced and brainless.
(Replaced Antonio, 66) Another in a litany of pointless appearances for Vlasic. Wide right this time, where he is no more comfortable than wide left.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal , Aaron Cresswell, Kurt Zouma, Craig Dawson, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Jarrod Bowen, Pablo Fornals, Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio.
Booked: Craig Dawson 23 .
Sent off: None.
Brentford: Raya, Ajer (Roerslev 82), Pinnock, Zanka, Henry, Norgaard, Janelt (Jensen 69), Mbeumo (Canos 78), Eriksen, Wissa, Toney.
Subs not used: Fernandez, Ghoddos, Jeanvier, Fosu, Baptiste, Sorensen.
Goals: Mbeumo (48), Toney (64).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Man of the Match: Craig Dawson.