Newcastle United 1-1 West Ham United
Saturday, 4th February 2023
by Chris Wilkerson
After the worst imaginable start, West Ham showed fight and resolve to recover a 1-1 draw with high-flying Newcastle United at St James Park this Saturday evening.With all the expectations on the hosts, both sides will feel they could have won a fairly level game, with a draw the fair result.
Callum Wilson's opener, his 10th Premier League goal against The Hammers, inside the first two minutes was cancelled out by Lucas Paqueta's first West Ham goal from open play just after the half-hour mark.
The game started at quite a pace, with Willock appearing to score inside the first 40 seconds. A direct move down the right flank saw Almiron chase a pass to the byline and appear to hook the ball just before it crossed the line.
It came back to Willock, who shifted his body well and fired across Fabianski and into the far corner. The ex-Arsenal midfielder wheeled away in celebration, but VAR soon ruled the ball to have just rolled out of play before Almiron got his foot around it to cross.
Whilst the TV showed the replays of the incident, Wilson was in behind the West Ham defence, through on Fabianski, and calmly slotted in his customary goal against the Irons, passing it by the goalkeeper with his left boot.
What the live cameras missed was Fabianski's clearance from the restart dropping to Antonio, who was grabbed and grappled by Schar and lost the ball. On the sidelines, Moyes protested, and whilst it was largely ignored in the coverage, the striker was clearly fouled.
Instead, it went loose towards Paqueta, who shielded it from one opponent, without realising another was behind him. The Brazilian was robbed and the pass was quickly fired through, Wilson slipping between Ogbonna and Kehrer, kept onside by the German.
Against a side with such confidence in Newcastle, conceding so quickly felt like a precursor to another 88 or so minutes of misery, but whatever has changed in the mindset of this team seems to have brought back a sterner, more resilient attitude.
Rather than sinking into their shells, no doubt with all their pre-game plans blown apart, West Ham eased their way in, building through the calm presence carried by both Rice and Paqueta in midfield.
Newcastle, possibly emotionally drained from their tense midweek League Cup semi-final win, or perhaps just missing the thrust of the suspended Bruno Guimar??es, seemed happy to back off and let their opponents find their footing. It was a mistake.
It allowed the away side to settle, and where once they could easily have been blown away, the fact that they were not may suggest that those green shoots of recovery from wins against Brentford, Everton and Derby County have given this side belief again.
That's not to say their performance was sparkling, but it was competitive, led by the continued smart work of Declan Rice in midfield. This was the captain back more to his efficient best, rarely spectacular, yet somehow immaculately intelligent in stealing the ball off his opponent's toes and finding himself first to loose balls in midfield.
The back five - and it was a much clearer 5-4-1 as The Hammers battled back into things - helps in such situations, making sure there are numbers in defence and less loose spaces to exploit.
It must be said, it remains to be seen whether the system has enabled West Ham to play or Nayef Aguerd has. For however many compliments one could give Rice, Aguerd was better. The spectacular came in the second half, but it is just the things he does that stop passes becoming dangerous, that halt moves before they become a threat. Newcastle have good pace and movement in their front line, and bursting forward in wide areas and in midfield, but not one had more pace than the Moroccan centre back.
Are Ogbonna and Emerson improvements on their counterparts from earlier in the season, or are they being covered by a defender who already looks one of the best in the Premier League? Frankly, who cares to find out, for it's working now.
The home side had one more glimpse of a chance in the half, a long diagonal freekick headed on by 6'7 Dan Burn on the edge of the area. The defenders stayed still, but Schar reacted for Newcastle, running into the space and beating Fabianski to the loose ball, but poking high and wide.
For West Ham, moves seemed to go to the left-hand side to die. This was Benrahma at his most frustrating, choosing the wrong option or failing to deliver with the right choice.
Paqueta began to get forward more as the side realised they were being given a freedom to play by their hosts. A good run from Emerson saw the Italian wing-back cut inside and lay off to Paqueta, whose first shot was blocked, and his second shot from that rebound was deflected wide.
Over went Rice to take the corner on the left side, curling in a ball with his right foot. Flat and hard, it evaded all in claret and blue, skimming off a defender's head. The ball landed at the far post, where Paqueta had drifted off the line and away from his marker Trippier.
With all the composure in the world, the Brazilian controlled the ball and then passed it low, through Trippier and into the back of the net from inside the six-yard box. He wheeled away in delight, with a trio of somersaults to follow. Up in the heavens, less graceful but no less delighted celebrations began, too.
Moyes's side were in the ascendancy, but struggled to create much to make it pay. A lovely quick move after regaining possession in midfield came to Benrahma, who skilfully beat two before driving a weak shot low and wide from a tough angle, and with multiple passing options.
On the other side, Coufal battled away, foraging up and down the flank with the boundless energy he has always provided. He was beaten once for pace by Saint-Maximin, no shame considering the acceleration he possesses, and will be happy to have nullified the threat of the tricky forward.
There was a late chance for Aguerd, Coufal's freekick finding the defender around the edge of the six-yard box, but he had jumped a touch early and could not get over the header. He should have done better.
With that, the sides went in level at one apiece.
Returning for the second half, the manager made a change, Kehrer picking up an injury in the first 45, so Ben Johnson took his place on the right side of those three centre backs. He slotted in seamlessly, continuing to show how well-suited he is to the role.
A good start to the half followed, West Ham able to pin Newcastle back in the opening minutes. Both Bowen and Coufal looked to have picked up injuries, Coufal complaining of a sore shoulder and Bowen clearly struggling with pain in his left foot, but both continued.
There were more signs of what Emerson brings to this team, driving forward and through midfield with the ball at his feet. Whereas most of this season, it has been a desperate search to see individuals in good form, now there were examples across the board.
In a tight and tense game, chances were at a premium. Neither side had hit the target again since their goals, although Newcastle did come close just before the hour mark.
This time it was a cross from Trippier, who had ghosted down the channel too easily and found space to cross. Looping one to the back post, Coufal jumped well to challenge the man in front of him, but saw his header drop to the man he had left behind, Saint-Maximin. Thankfully, his low volley was right at Coufal, who blocked well and cleared the danger.
With threat on goal limited, Joelinton appeared desperate to bring some comedy to proceedings. Darting into the box on the right-hand side, the Brazilian looked to poke the ball past Aguerd and initiate contact.
Unfortunately for him, he had not quite seemed to work out how any part of that would happen, and instead started his fall before he had even made contact with the ball to make that move. Instead, he poked a ball and fell down, prompting a rather angry telling off from the Moroccan magician.
Soon, both managers made changes, looking to freshen things up. West Ham had started to revert to a more defensive approach, and as Newcastle flew forward, Moyes looked to Soucek and Fornals, replacing Paqueta and Benrahma, the pair coming on with a touch over 15 minutes left to play.
A moment later, Wilson looked set to core his 11th against West Ham - it is worth noting his second best is six against Burnley, just to highlight how ridiculous this is - as the defence got caught high and substitute Anthony Gordon, on debut, managed to slip Wilson behind the defence.
With a head start on a turning Aguerd, Wilson looked to have it all his way, but the Moroccan wasn't letting that disadvantage stop him.
The centre back roared after him, and just as the striker looked set to shoot, around came a leg, blocking the shot and saving his side from what was a very good scoring opportunity.
Whatever West Ham had had in the first half of the second 45, it was now all Newcastle. With balls being fired into the box and West Ham dropping deeper, the home fans were expectant.
But one Wilson chance aside, a header from 10 yards out that he placed nicely in Fabianski's arms, the home side were not breaking West Ham down. Other sides might wilt under this pressure, but it appears Moyes's side have got that grit back that seems to make them enjoy such a challenge.
Ings replaced Antonio, and Downes was a late change for Coufal, but nobody was taking this point from The Hammers. In the fact of ample pressure, they stood strong, and as the final whistle was blown, they will feel they more than earned their point from top-four Newcastle United.
At the start of a run of difficult fixtures, this performance will give them heart, and the point will stop them feeling their luck cannot change.
All in all, a great evening's work, if you forget that first two minutes...
David Moyes: 8/10
Moving third on the all-time list of games managed in the Premier League, above former West Ham manager Harry Redknapp, Moyes was in his element, thwarting an attacking coach like Howe and putting out a team that could battle and threaten at the same time. The changes worked for what was required, and the system looks settled now. Just how different could things have been with Nayef Aguerd fit?
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Player RatingsLukasz Fabianski
No chance with the goal, rarely tested after that from shots, but made some good claims that were needed.
Very good defensively, all the more impressive considering the pace of the players he was up against. He still managed to maintain that running up and down all game, and whilst his delivery wasn't great, his presence was important and it's to his credit that he never got turned and exposed on the counter.
Gives a different dimension to our play with his dribbling and the way he is happy to run directly at defenders. Other weeks, he has made lapses and let runners go, but was only really beaten on one overlap today and provided thrust down the left, all the more impressive considering how poor Benrahma was ahead of him.
Behind the line for the first goal, he's good in that right-sided slot when he's defending on the front foot, but a worry in deeper slots.
Solid, unspectacular, but dug in. The two big chances were Wilson drifting off him, and whilst they're not his fault, possibly a lack of communication and recovery movement.
Those who have talked about the importance of his absence in the first half of the season have been justified. He has been immense since coming back into the team and today was a pinnacle, so far. The big challenge on Wilson stands out, but it's the work he does covering balls down the channel, covering behind Ogbonna and Emerson stops a lot of things that could build to more.
Were it not for Aguerd's heroics, Rice would have been man of the match. Winning the ball back at a high rate, he started attacks well, supported down the left and even delivered the corner for Paquet??'s goal.
A little iffy moments when caught on the ball, and he may have been better served getting proper control of the ball when losing it for the first goal, but a very energetic performance and clear signs that his partnership with Rice is growing. Showed more attacking intent and deserved his goal, which he took with a composure severely lacking across this squad.
Wasteful and selfish, chose the wrong options in attack on multiple occasions and couldn't deliver on the rare occasions he chose the right one. Lucky to stay on as long as he did, and wouldn't have if Moyes trusted Fornals or had Cornet.
Worked hard, threatened little. Which is fine, he won't shine in every game, but the work rate needs to be there, and it was.
Looked up for it, with the same attitude he had against Everton. But he was up against a much better defence today, and they marshalled him well. Was not at his best on the ball when they didn't, but he's showing much more recently than he has all season.
(Replaced Kehrer 46) Wasn't overly tested, but covered round well on the odd occasion it was needed, and made no sloppy errors, which puts him above the standard Kehrer performance. Got into better positions, higher up the pitch, to support the passing on the right.
(Replaced Benrahma 74) Did what was required, working hard and pressing up top, whilst coming back and defending the left.
(Replaced Paqueta 74) Similarly to Fornals, Soucek understood the assignment and did what was needed. Won some big headers, disrupted in the middle and helped defend the late set pieces.
(Replaced Antonio 81) Didn't really get involved.
(Replaced Coufal 90) N/A
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, Emerson, Thilo Kehrer, Angelo Ogbonna, Nayef Aguerd, Declan Rice, Lucas Paqueta, Said Benrahma, Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio.
Goals: Lucas Paqueta 32 .
Booked: Nayef Aguerd 90 .
Sent off: None.
Newcastle United: Pope, Trippier, Schär, Botman, Burn, S.Longstaff, Willock (Anderson 81), Joelinton, Almirón (Murphy 81), Saint-Maximin (Gordon 69), Wilson.
Subs not used: Dubravka, Lewis, Dummett, Lascelles, Ritchie, Fraser.
Goals: Wilson (3).
Booked: Willock (45), Saint-Maximin (51), Joelinton (57) .
Sent off: None.
Referee: Peter Bankes.
Man of the Match: Nayef Aguerd.