Premier League
Brighton & Hove Albion 4 West Ham United 0

Saturday, 4th March 2023
by Chris Wilkerson

A miserable performance from West Ham was exposed by a gleeful Brighton this afternoon, the Seagulls hammering David Moyes’s side 4-0 at the Amex Stadium.

It was one of the worst displays West Ham have produced under Moyes, even with the caveat that The Hammers have to play badly against Brighton, with it now being 12 games in the Premier League contested between the two teams, with Brighton still unbeaten.

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The Irons were flat, disorganised and technically inept, embarrassed by the passing football of their hosts, who looked like they were toying with their opponents at times.

A first half penalty from MacAllister was followed by three second half goals, rounded up by Danny Welbeck's annual goal against West Ham.

Bowen and Ings returned to the side after the midweek FA Cup defeat to Manchester United, with Fornals and Antonio returning to the bench.

The positivity that had been earned by the 4-0 win against Nottingham Forest last weekend, as well as a good hour at Old Trafford, was soon forgotten as Brighton found it far too easy to play slick football and play around West Ham wherever they were on the pitch.

The Hammers tried to put their hosts under pressure in and around their own area, but looked hapless doing so. Brighton overplay, but it was nothing that West Ham were doing that forced that, it is just who they are.

To give West Ham any credit for, well, anything in this game would be a disservice. Their only chance came when they lost the ball and got a lucky bounce, they were otherwise hopeless.

Brighton just exposed how bad their visitors were, and it is quite the task to work out what the manager had planned to deal with it.

The first chance of the match came for the impressive Solly March, whose performances over more than a year at Brighton really should result in an England call up. The midfielder got possession on the edge of the box, stood still and watched as the West Ham defence parted in front of him, following runners without a care for the ball in possession.

With the invitation to take the ball on, March waltzed into the box and past two men before shooting right at Areola from close range.

It was only a matter of time before Brighton stopped passing it neatly and instead found a cutting edge. You could wonder whether they might have frustrated themselves and lost rhythm were all the pretty passing to go with a prize into half-time, but that was never to be found out.

Instead, the sometimes toothless Brighton were given an opportunity by pure West Ham incompetence.

After once more passing out from their own half with great composure, a switch from the right to the left to Mitoma caught out Ben Johnson, who got the flight of the ball wrong and then committed to a header, but instead having the ball sail over him.

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Mitoma controlled and burst into the box, into the space left by Johnson's error.

Bowen sprinted back in to cover, but just collided into the Japanese winger, who went down and was rewarded with a penalty, referee Stuart Attwell left with no other choice.

MacAllister stepped up and blasted the ball into the top corner to beat Areola and give his side the lead just before the twenty-minute mark.

It was as much deserved for Brighton for their control of the game as it was for West Ham for just how poor they had been in the opening exchanges. It was a punishment they were asking for.

Their only chance of the game came around the 25th minute, Benrahma taking the ball on from the middle of the pitch and running at Veltman, the Brighton defence suddenly exposed and out of position.

Estupinan slid round and dispossessed Benrahma from behind, but the ball bounced free and loose to Bowen, who skipped around Veltman and found himself with no one but the goalkeeper to beat from the edge of the box. Unfortunately for him and his team, the shot was too close to Steele in the Brighton goal and comfortably saved.

The recycled ball after the rebound found its way to Tomas Soucek down the right flank of the area, but his ball across goal was cleared by Steele.

And that was that for West Ham. For the next 70 minutes, they offered nothing. No more threat, no resolve and nothing for a watching fan to cling to. It was surely this that caused the away support to finally really lose hope in the manager.

By half time, it may have been only 1-0 to the hosts, but Brighton had had 76% of possession and play four times the amount of passes of West Ham.

Whilst there were some good turnovers of possession for West Ham, there was a complete lack of intensity. Even when possession was won, there was such little composure, and such poor execution under pressure that it was a waste to have even got the ball.

There was no single player to blame, the attitude of the group just seemed too casual, lacking effort and motivation. Each observer will have their own different issue, a few individuals who annoyed them more than others.

From this point of view, Soucek's ability to win the ball becomes pointless when he can't use it, especially under pressure in forward areas. Another, Ings, seemed to approach the game as a 90s striker whose job was only to score goals. And Rice and Paquet?? looked far from top class players worth obscene amounts of money.

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The change at half-time from the manager was unsurprising in how uninspiring it was. On came Fornals for Benrahma, which seemed to allow the side to go into a 4-4-2 at times, getting Bowen alongside Ings to work the Brighton defence on the ball.

If that was the plan, it didn't work.

There was just no area on the park where it was made difficult for Brighton to play.

They started the half in the ascendancy immediately, MacAllister allowed time to turn and shoot as Ogbonna seemed to show the midfielder to goal, preferring to defend a possible square pass.

Moments later, it was an attempt to press high that saw West Ham nearly concede once more.

It looked as if Brighton were in trouble in their own area, but as Rice left his deeper position behind the press to engage instead, the vulnerability was turned into an advantage. Rice's decision to chase the ball was suddenly horribly exposed, Brighton's ability to play under pressure shown here at its best, turning quickly and playing into the space Rice had left behind.

Having looked vulnerable, Brighton were in the West Ham box in the blink of an eye. A ball to MacAllister in the box saw the Argentine flick a back heel at goal, but the effort was blocked wide.

Brighton had scored one goal from a corner this season, an own goal. West Ham had yet to concede from a corner in the Premier League.

So, of course, it was 2-0. The corner was flicked on at the near post by MacAllister, who attacked the ball the West Ham defence waited for it. His flick guided the ball to the back post, where Joel Veltman stood alone to chest the ball into an empty net.

What Ben Johnson thought he was doing, goodness only knows. The right back stood a metre off his man, guarding empty space, wildly unaware of Veltman standing in free space.

It was six minutes into the second half and it truly felt the game was already over. If only it had been.

It didn't provoke a reaction from West Ham because this was not a game they could get any grip on.

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A flurry of yellow cards came, Soucek late on a tackle, Rice late and clearly frustrated, Bowen going down in the box untouched - although, to his credit, he did immediately get to his feet and never appealed for a foul. Soucek just seemed too slow, whilst Rice looked to have taken out his anger on a Brighton player.

These were not signs of fight, just further evidence of a lack of control. There really was nothing to cling onto watching this.

The only positive to think of was Emerson clearing away when Ferguson should have scored. A ball across the face of goal by March was there for the young striker to tap in, but Emerson did excellently to get to the ball first and clear off Ferguson?EUR~s toes.

It was soon 3-0 anyway. Areola cleared long into midfield, but to a Brighton player. It's quickly forward through the middle to Ferguson, who quickly flicked the ball on to March. With time on the ball, he fed to Gro?? on the right side of the box, and his low ball across the face of goal was met by Mitoma sliding in at the opposite post to poke the ball in.

Some have said that one benefit of Moyes as manager has been that his side never gets badly beaten. At least, they don't get thrashed. With 20 minutes to go, West Ham had not threatened since that Bowen effort in the first half. They had no shot in the second half. And they would concede a fourth before the game ended.

Not only was it a thrashing, it was a completely lifeless one. They were not exposed playing attacking football, they didn't even force Brighton to leave open spaces to attack as they committed to scoring goals. Brighton had complete control of every stage of the game and did not have to stretch their defensive shape or take adverse risks to do so.

With 15 minutes to go, Moyes made changes. On came Lanzini and Downes for Paquet?? and Soucek. Whilst nothing improved for the changes, it does make one wonder what was working for 30 minutes beforehand that hadn't prompted a change.

Brighton's substitutes were causing issues, Enciso forcing Areola to save at full stretch, the ball tipped onto the bar.

But it wouldn't be a Brighton game against West Ham without a goal-shy striker scoring, and so stepped forward Danny Welbeck.

It was a depressing goal to concede as the striker was put under minimal pressure on the edge of the area and he was given the time to turn and line up an effort across Areola and into the far corner. With a minute to go, Brighton had turned this into a rout, and it was as much as both sides deserved.

The Hammers remain 16th, but a win for Southampton added pressure. West Ham remain two points above the relegation places, but only two points off the bottom, too, with the three teams in the relegation spots now joint on 21 points.

And it appeared to be a performance that even the staunchest of the away support found unacceptable. It didn't appear to be a tactical issue, but just one where the whole team was off the pace and looked unwilling to put in the hard work. It doesn't offer any evidence that the win last week had lifted spirits or belief in the squad, and will open up more intense debate about David Moyes's future.

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Manager Rating

David Moyes 3/10
We'll never win at Brighton away with Moyes in charge. Seems completely unaware of how to deal with them, completely unaware of what is happening as it was happening in this game. The midfield was unbalanced, but he doesn't change those players, so it was Benrahma because it had to be one of the scapegoats. Soucek was a bit embarrassed, yet not taken off until far too late, when the game was gone. The press was so disorganised that it hurt the whole team, exposing the midfield and defence. Hard to tell what he saw in the second half that convinced him to stick with what he had for half an hour.

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Player Ratings

Alphonse Areola
Didn't kick well, easily beaten on all goals.

Ben Johnson
Didn't really know how to deal with Mitoma and made big mistakes on two goals. Got lost under the ball then committed comically on the first goal, an embarrassing bit of defending for the second.

Emerson Palmieri
Made one or two good runs forward, defended reasonably well and made one goal-saving intervention right in front of goal as Ferguson looked to knock it into an empty net.

Angelo Ogbonna
Seemed to really struggle with Ferguson when he dropped to make little passes for the forward runners from midfields. Defence looked disorganised. Some of his defending on the edge of his box to put pressure on players was hilarious in how bad it was.

Nayef Aguerd
Didn't look comfortable, although the protection from midfield was lacking. Just too easily moved around by Brighton's attacking players, Ferguson doing very well to just link as a lone striker.

Declan Rice
Rice was horribly exposed by how easy it was for Brighton to play through the defensive work in their own half. They just cut through any press, so Rice either gambled and got bypassed or was left with his opponents going past the press and running at him with easy options to pass around him.

Tomas Soucek
Made the odd good challenge, but mostly looked lost. Couldn't turn his body quick enough to deal with Brighton's pass-and-move football, and when he did get the ball, he often couldn't do anything useful or accurate with it. There was a need to be able to play sharp football to expose sudden moments of weakness, and he can't play quickly under pressure. How poor he was made others worse.

Lucas Paqueta
The midfield issues were one symptom of a disjointed team that didn't do enough defending on the front foot, was exposed when pressing meekly and then outplayed by Brighton on the ball. Was always going to be hard for Rice and Paqueta with how poor the front three (and later two) were, as well as Soucek's inability to play under any pressure.

Said Benrahma
Somewhat unlucky to get taken off, considering the whole team was playing badly and Benrahma at least had shown an ability to threaten Brighton by running at them. Sure, it was once, and the chance came because he lost the ball, but considering how bad the whole team were, this was not a Said issue and it wasn't a change that would solve any of the problems on display.

Jarrod Bowen
A passenger for the most part, fluffing his one big chance and making a stupid challenge to give away the penalty that got Brighton started.

Danny Ings
Ambled around like a man who'd just committed to a couch to 5k starting in March. This was worse than 70 minutes of his performance against Forest, which was poor until he scored. He was absolutely no threat in this game, and whilst he had no service, he did nothing to give his teammates anything to play off, nor did he seem able to defend from the front. A waste of a place.


Pablo Fornals
(Replaced Benraham 45) Improved some of the forward passing, but his energy faded as he seemed to become lost within the lifeless performances around him.

Kurt Zouma
(Replaced Ogbonna 69) Probably good for him to get 20 minutes of life into his legs in a game that was already dead when he came on. Ogbonna seemed to have shaken off his injury by then, but it was worth the change.

Flynn Downes
(Replaced Soucek 75) Suffered a similar problem to Fornals. They couldn't come on and completely change the tone of a weak performance.

Manuel Lanzini
(Replaced (Paqueta 75) As with Downes, the game was dead, the team was flat, the situation hopeless.

Joseph Anang
Did not play.

Krisztian Hegyi
Did not play.

Aaron Cresswell
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Alphonse Areola, Ben Johnson, Emerson Palmieri, Angelo Ogbonna, Nayef Aguerd, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Lucas Paqueta, Said Benrahma, Jarrod Bowen, Danny Ings.

Goals: None.

Booked: Tomas Soucek 55 Jarrod Bowen 58 Declan Rice 59      .

Sent off: None.

Brighton & Hove Albion: Steele, Lamptey (Veltman 16), Dunk, Webster, Estupinan (Buonanotte 77), Caicedo, Groß, March (Welbeck 77), Mac Allister, Mitoma (Sarmiento 83), Ferguson (Enciso 83).

Subs not used: Sánchez, Undav, Gilmour, van Hecke.

Goals: Mac Allister (18), Veltman (51), Mitoma (69), Welbeck (89).

Booked: .

Sent off: None.

Referee: Stuart Attwell.

Attendance: 31,523.

Man of the Match: Emerson Palmieri.