Premier League
West Ham United 1 Burnley 1

Sunday, 17th April 2022
by Chris Wilkerson

It was frustration for both sides at the London Stadium this afternoon as West Ham and manager-less Burnley played out a 1-1 draw, with both desperately in need of a win.

The Hammers started brightly and were the stronger team throughout the second half, but a loss of rhythm and concentration after a long injury break was enough for Burnley to take advantage and snatch a goal.


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A Max Cornet penalty at the end of the first half was rolled wide by the Ivorian, and West Ham can leave this one feeling both aggrieved at not winning and a little lucky not to have been shot out of sight in the opening 45 minutes.

The half ended with nine minutes of stoppage time after a collision between Vlasic and Westwood left the Burnley man writhing in pain, and eventually taken off on a stretcher after eight minutes of treatment, in which time Vlasic was so distressed that he was consoled by both teammates and opponents alike. We wish the Burnley midfielder a speedy recovery.

There were three changes from the momentous win in Lyon, as Fabianski, Cresswell and Vlasic replaced Areola, Coufal and Fornals.

It meant Vlasic out on the wing once more, where the Croatian international has failed to sparkle in a Hammers shirt. To his credit, he was busier in the opening 20 minutes than many past appearances, creating an early chance for Antonio after receiving a wonderful Dawson pass. Unfortunately, the striker wasted the chance, for the first but not last time in this game.

What was good to see was the energy West Ham had. This looked nothing like the performance against Burnley, insipid and exhausted as it was, and even the changing in corner routines showed a side ready for this change in challenge.

One such clever routine tested Pope to his limit. Instead of being whipped in, the ball was passed firmly and low into the box to the feet of Rice at the front post. His flick to the edge of the box was perfect for Bowen, whose first shot was driven low and blocked when sailing in.

The ball came back to the wide man, and this time he curled it high and to the far corner. At full stretch, Pope was on hand to palm away. It became a theme of West Ham's frustration come the end of 90 minutes.

When he was beaten four minutes later, that dogged Burnley defending saved them. A cross from Johnson after smart work from Vlasic fell perfectly to Cresswell. The full back volleyed hard and low, beating Pope but saw a last-ditch and desperate dive from Tarkowski clear it away on the line.

The Hammers were definitely on top, but an unfortunate collision soon changed the game.


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It came from nothing, a truly innocuous moment in midfield as Westwood beat Vlasic to a ball. The Croat tumbled over Westwood's challenge, and suddenly frantic calls went out to the physios. Vlasic turned around and fell to his knees and whatever he saw, the injury clearly so bad that the visual shook him. Westwood stayed down, for eight minutes, and was treated as players huddled around him and Vlasic. A lot is said of Burnley's physical style, but the old-fashioned ruggedness maybe comes with some old-fashioned honour, too. Not one man seemed to blame Vlasic, but maybe did come over to console him as the attacker was in tears.

At the same time, it appeared a fan needed assistance in the crowd, stretching the original delay. When we did get back underway, Burnley had a free-kick just inside the West Ham half. Fired in, Weghorst was in far too much space and the home side were lucky to bundle it behind.

Their luck lasted no longer, a corner whipped in right at Fabianski was headed onto the bar by Rodriguez, sailing up and then down a yard from goal. The tallest man on the pitch was under it, and Weghorst got up highest to nod the ball over the bodies beneath him and into the back of the net to give his side a far from deserved lead just after the half hour mark.

It stunned players and fans alike, and it took a good ten minutes for Moyes' men to really regather their composure.

When they did, they could have scored, but then so nearly went two goals down.

After Bowen played it into Antonio in the box, the striker swivelled and fired loosely at goal, his shot deemed to have taken a deflection when flying high and wide. Had he spotted the runners in support, he may have been able to play in those in better positions.

The corner was cleared and then cannoned out to Johnson as the last man, just inside the Burnley half. Under a bit of pressure, he stepped to it and neither cleared nor passed, side-footing it wide to a Burnley player who immediately fired it forward and fired Cornet through. The winger was behind the last man, but inside his own half and ran through on goal. Into the area, he skipped around Fabianski and was taken down by the goalkeeper to earn his side, and himself, a shot from the penalty spot, right on the stroke of half-time.

Standing up at the spot, he did everything right except for the key moment. His dummy sent Fabianski down to one corner, Cornet now given more than half the goal to just stroke the ball into. He went right for the corner, and his aim wasn't true, rolling it well wide and giving West Ham a reprieve they may well feel they deserved. In a relegation battle, just how important could that miss have been?

Having started the half so well, you could see why the manager was happy to send the same team out for the second half.


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An early chance was presented to them by a peach of a pass from McNeil, cutting back onto his left foot when down the right flank and passing through his own midfield and up into the Burnley half for Bowen. The winger sprinted at goal, but West Ham dallied. It ended up crossed to the far post from the left by Lanzini and bouncing wide of goal. Other breaks were wasted as indecision forced slow passes and openings disappeared. This West Ham side still struggle against a deep, packed defence and shot themselves in the foot on odd moments they caught Burnley out of position in transitions.

It was hard to pin what change the manager needed to make. Soucek was laboured on the ball, as he often is, yet remained key in some of the uglier aspects of this game. Not only did he have his usual aerial threat, he is a strong defender against long balls and crosses, and this was Burnley.

Similarly, Lanzini floated in and out of the game, but the build-up in midfield was improved when he was on the ball. Vlasic was never integral, but had made himself a part of the game and looked strong in central areas, as he often does.

In the end it was the Croatian replaced, Benrahma coming in to add trickery, pace and energy. As ever, if he matched those with consistent guile and delivery, he would be too vital a player to leave out.

There were headed chances before his arrival, half-chances at best as Johnson picked out Antonio for one he powered wide and Rice flicked on a Cresswell cross, but never really looked like scoring.

It had broken down to truly being a game of attack vs defence. Cornet remained their only threat, his pace on the counter causing rare issues, but otherwise the away side were pinned back and seemingly happy to see the game out with bravery at the back.

They have long been seen as the Premier League's kings of the last-ditch defensive display, but it comes with risks. It allowed West Ham to just keep coming back time and again with the ball, and chances are bound to come. Antonio was again wasteful when Lanzini won the ball back in midfield and turned a possible Burnley attack into a strong position for the Hammers. It's fair to say his shooting boots were not with him today, this one blasted over when he possibly could have passed to Bowen. To be fair to him, the decision to shoot wasn't wrong, but the execution was, once more, poor.

Yet his hard work brings rewards, and even if the striker doesn't directly benefit, it's his persistence, presence and (whisper it, some won't be happy) intelligence that defenders struggle to deal with.

This time, the striker won the ball back for West Ham down the right and was fouled in a good position.


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Cresswell left it for Lanzini to curl into the box, and where luck had failed them previously, it came back again to gift West Ham a goal. This time it was Weghorst, flicking it on when he could have done more, and flicking it right into the jump of Soucek. The ball cannoned off his upper arm and into the back of the net to make it 1-1 with 15 minutes to go.

Suddenly, the dynamic was changed. Burnley need points, and they certainly could not afford to lose having led for so long. The shift was clear, the away side now looking forward and committing numbers into attacks.

That left space, and that meant Bowen, Antonio and Benrahma could expose the room Burnley now had to give them.

It was nearly 2-1 in an instant, a pass deflected behind the Burnley defence to Benrahma right on the byline. The composure to chip it over Pope and go around him was fantastic, but two Burnley defenders were over in a flash. Benrahma never looked quite confident he was onside, but a deep defender had given him the chance.

Down the other end, a corner caused chaos in the West Ham defence and ended up at Tarkowski's feet in the area. The Hammers were lucky he couldn't arrange them in time to do anything dangerous.

It was the home side who ended the game with all the chances and all the momentum. Antonio again was less than assured blasting at goal when Bowen again was in space. The corner from his shot went short, and this time it was worked well to whip a cross at goal. Diop rose, flicked it down and towards the corner of goal, only for Pope to fly to his right and slap the ball away. It was a fantastic save.

A couple minutes later, it was Antonio again. This time it was Rice passing him at goal, the striker skipping over a desperate lunge to get into the box at a slight angle. He opened his body up to pass it into the far corner, but Pope was out quickly and saved well. Had Antonio taken the challenge and gone down, he would have won a penalty. Whether this is naivety or honourable is for you to decide.

That was the last chance of the game, West Ham ending it feeling they had dropped two points in a game they should have won. They had the chances, but Burnley could have been 2-0 up at half time. Had Nick Pope not had another fantastic game against us, the result surely would have been different.

The positive spin is this performance was never as lacklustre as the one at Brentford a week before, and this side should not just fall to defeat meekly after every European game. With at least two more to come, West Ham will need to dig deep. There are five games left in the league, and to secure European football they may well need eight more points. Surely, any chance of finishing in the top four has gone from slim to forgotten, and the goal now must be to finish within the top seven and take whatever European football they can get.


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Manager's Rating

David Moyes 6/10
Rescued the point, so it's hard to argue he could have done more. But there was a game there to be won, and there were players not playing as well as they could. Could more have rotated in? Could the changes have been made earlier? It's a game we should have won, so he can't be pleased.

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Player Ratings

Lukasz Fabianski
Looked far from comfortable on Burnley corners and crosses. That was most apparent on the goal, whilst he was beaten with no fuss by Cornet. Finally under some pressure for his place as Areola's European form catches the eye.


Ben Johnson
Sharpened his crossing as the game went on and defended Cornet well. But the error before the penalty was very poor basics.


Aaron Cresswell
His crossing just has to find a forward more. It's not even that he's missing them but putting in good balls, he mainly wastes good space.


Issa Diop
You would expect this is the worst opponent for Issa, but a couple minor errors aside, he was very strong and looked good in the air.


Craig Dawson
Comfortable against Burnley, and his passing remained impressive.


Declan Rice
Drove forward well and played smartly in front of the defence, then expanding his game out and taking responsibility on the ball when it was clear those driving runs were needed. A bit more efficiency up front and Rice would look to have pushed his team on for a win. Instead the final third was a frustration.


Tomas Soucek
Did a lot of the ugly defending, was composed enough to hold midfield when Lanzini and Rice were forward, gets the goal. It's not poetic, but it's the kind of effectiveness in a game like this that was needed.


Manuel Lanzini
When he floated wide or pushed forward, he was missed in midfield. He still lacks a little dynamism, and won't play as fast, direct and dangerously as Fornals. He missed the Spaniard, who he combines well with, but then rescued things with a good delivery for the goal.


Nikola Vlasic
Having a good game until the unfortunate injury to Westwood, which certainly knocked him sideways. Got better in periods of the second half, but was the obvious man to replace. Bright moments on the wing a nice surprise, but he still looked better drifting centrally.


Jarrod Bowen
Had moments, but really stayed on the edges of the contest. Couldn't really get into things, but he was let down by Antonio's wayward play on a few occasions.


Michail Antonio
Didn't look like he'd score today. Shots were wilder, decisions were a touch rash. He looked like a man desperate to get a goal and recover that scoring touch. He should remind himself how much the team have benefited from his selfless work. His goals will come, but the important thing is that the team scores, and he has contributed immensely to make sure they do.



Substitutes

Said Benrahma
(Replaced Vlasic, 64) It wasn't that he did anything truly notable or brilliant, he just added a more lively threat than Vlasic and had the bursts of pace and intelligence of movement to create bits of space when Burnley were trying to restrict it.


Pablo Fornals
(Replaced Lanzini, 78) Got on the ball, passed reasonably well. Not on a long time. His absence was felt.


Alphonse Areola
Did not play.


Vladimir Coufal
Did not play.


Ryan Fredericks
Did not play.


Arthur Masuaku
Did not play.


Alex Kral
Did not play.



Match Facts

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Ben Johnson, Aaron Cresswell, Issa Diop, Craig Dawson, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Manuel Lanzini, Nikola Vlasic, Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio.

Goals: Tomas Soucek 74                  .

Booked: Lukasz Fabianski 45 Ben Johnson 45 Declan Rice 0      .

Sent off: None.

Burnley: Pope, Lowton (Roberts 62), Tarkowski, Collins, Taylor, McNeil (Vydra 79), Cork, Westwood (Brownhill 30), Cornet, Weghorst, Rodriguez.

Subs not used: Hennessey, Barnes, Stephens, Lennon, Bardsley, Long.

Goals: Weghorst (33).

Booked: Cork (10), Weghorst.

Sent off: None.

Referee: Paul Tierney.

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: Tomas Soucek.