Premier League
Bournemouth 0-4 West Ham United 

Sunday, 23rd April 2023
by Chris Wilkerson

West Ham roared to a resounding success at the Vitality Stadium this Sunday afternoon, brushing aside a resurgent Bournemouth to win 4-0.

It was a performance and scoreline to cap off what has been an excellent week for the club, following the comeback draw with Arsenal and making it through to the Europa Conference League semi-finals.


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A buoyant and confident side were supported by the raucous away fans in attendance to leave their manager beaming with praise for how his side played. If the draw last weekend was rousing and the eight-minute blitz against Gent decisive, this was finally a complete performance from a team that looked miles ahead of their opponents.

Moyes made only the two changes from the midweek victory against the Belgians, with Fabianski and Cresswell returning in place of Areola and Emerson.

It is part of what feels like a blatant attempt to recapture what had made Moyes's West Ham so good for the two previous seasons, with The Hammers comfortable allowing Bournemouth, threatening on transitions and set pieces.

And so it proved as West Ham scored their first league goal of the season in the opening 15 minutes of a game. The slow starters had conceded seven unanswered goals in the first 15 minutes of games, but they have rarely been allowed such easy chances from corners.

It was Cresswell whipping it in from the left, firing a flat cross to the six-yard box where Antonio stood unmarked. Much like on Thursday, the striker stood relatively still within the width of the goal, so when the ball came to him, he needed only to divert his header straight at goal to find the corner and give his side a lead on five minutes.

It was really as simple as that, Solanke leaving Antonio unchallenged to nod in his 12th of the season, although only his fourth in the league.

Crucial wins against Southampton and Fulham have given West Ham a little bit of breathing space as they fight to avoid relegation, but it was the comeback against Arsenal that appears to have helped the players find their confidence once more.

Gent was another step in the right direction, but Bournemouth was the real return. The Hammers were vibrant, energetic, setting a tempo in their attacks and playing better passing football as the game went on. As the confidence came back, the side started to play on instinct, and soon looked a class above their opponents.

Paqueta was instrumental, buzzing around with an air of authority and knitting things together.

The Brazilian played close to Antonio early on, almost into a 442, and his presence was felt up field as Bournemouth struggled to contain West Ham. There were half chances and little openings, but Paqueta underlined his attacking threat just before the 15th minute as West Ham extended their lead.

Coufal started it, his return to form very notable in recent weeks, snatching at a loose touch wide on the right. After exchanging quick passes with Bowen, he got to the byline and dug out a deep, hanging cross to the far post.

It held in the air, and so did Paqueta, rising high above the centre back Jack Stephens and dominating the defender in the air.


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He had timed his jump perfectly, meeting the ball and powering his header into the bottom corner to give his side a 2-0 lead inside 15 minutes.

A comfortable lead is not something West Ham fans have been able to celebrate often this season, especially in the league, and that little release of tension looked very good on the West Ham players and sounded very good within the West Ham fans.

Bournemouth were being allowed the majority of possession, but the hosts couldn't match the quality of their visitors.

To their credit, they did more with it than Fulham had on West Ham's last away trip, Bournemouth at least creating chances. After Coufal made a goal-saving interception in the box and moments later Lerma hit a fierce shot that forced Fabianski into a save, Bournemouth should have equalised on half hour.

Aguerd was turned far too easily by Solanke down the West Ham left and the striker made his way to goal.

Coming in from the angle, Solanke brushed the Moroccan aside to get in on goal and tried to finish across Fabianski and into the far corner.

His effort was too soft, the striker trying to pass into the far corner, with Fabianski close to him and the angle making it tough. His effort was easily stopped.

It was just that kind of game for West Ham, who looked comfortably in control whilst conceding dominance the majority of possession to the hosts. You've seen this performance many times before, just not this season, maybe for longer than a year.

Pure David Moyes football.

Antonio has been key to that revival, but the added stardust in this game came with Paqueta really finding his place within it. Now West Ham had multiple threats, rather than just the underappreciated efforts of Bowen down the right.

There was a little wobble when a bouncing ball was left loose by both Aguerd and Zouma in the defence, Solanke stealing in but eventually well blocked by the Moroccan, but the difference a bit of happiness can make should not go understated.

Aguerd and Fabianski argued after the error, but it was very quickly forgotten when the captain added a third goal.


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It came once more from a corner. Cresswell's delivery, which has been roundly excellent since his return to the side, flicked lightly off a head in the mass of the middle, and dropped into space on the right hand side of the box.

Rice had been behind it, watching like a hawk, and was into the loose ball in flash. Catching it on the bounce, the midfielder rifled it low, bouncing off the deck, taking a deflection and crashing into the back of the net, the away fans as ecstatic as the players. Finally, this team was going to get its reward for a good performance.

The skipper even had time for a word with Aguerd, calming the defender down. Things were looking rosy.

The Hammers went in at half-time with a three-goal lead, about 40% possession and complete control of the game. Welcome back.

Bournemouth reacted in the break, throwing Kieffer Moore on to give them two big strikers. It made sense, West Ham have been known to allow crosses, and Solanke and Moore are both big, powerful strikers. The problem is that neither is entirely convincing at Premier League level, and Zouma and Aguerd are pretty good in the air themselves.

The away fans were going through the songbook, asking for at least one more year for Declan Rice, going as high as 10 as they showed their appreciation for their captain. He will never have had such sustained singing in his name, and his dominant performance fully deserved it.

The platform he gave Paqueta to play gave the side balance. Soucek, who now plays a very quiet role in the midfield, was getting through some very useful defensive work himself, and his pared back role does get him in positions to do the ugly defensive work that gives Moyes his bonus centre back.

The only piece missing was a performance from Benrahma, who did begin to move off his flank and find central areas better than usual, but put in another somewhat flat performance. His form has dipped in recent weeks, and it may be that this system that sometimes jumps into a 442 just doesn't suit the Algerian. He was still involved in some lovely moves, but on the outside of them.

Benrahma and Antonio were replaced with 25 minutes remaining, Moyes happy to make changes and give his regular starters a break. On came Fornals and Ings.

By this point, the shackles were off completely and the West Ham players, for the first time this season, truly seemed to play without burden.

And it gave us a quite spectacular goal.

The finish itself has to be seen to truly be appreciated, there are not words that will describe it perfectly.


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There had been beautiful passages of slick passing, one-touch football and clever movement, and West Ham were looking like they could score with every attack.

Bournemouth again were sloppy in midfield, too loose with their passing, and Rice pounced on another poor pass. He quickly fired it down the right to Bowen, who turned down the early square ball to Fornals, instead driving down the channel and closer to the byline.

Taking it into the box and cutting back and forth to create space, he fired a cross around waist height through the six-yard box.

It was behind Fornals and at an awkward height, but the Spaniard improvised. He jumped forward, lifted his leg behind him and brought out the scorpion kick, volleying it down into the goal to round off the scoring in the best way possible.

The passion from him was released, a scream into the stands as he ran to celebrate, tears in his eyes as his teammates embraced him. This has not been an easy season for Fornals, reduced to a minor supporting role. Where last season, he was bossing Sevilla and Lyon, now he watches from the bench. He deserved his goal, coming in with good energy and finding space to play his passing game.

The game had been over a long time, Bournemouth's recent revival coming to a grinding halt early on. They plugged away, Solanke hitting the base of the post minutes after Fornals scored, but with just under 20 minutes remaining, the Cherries were eager to leave this one behind and get back on with the important business if survival.

Moore missed a late chance on the volley, and Cornet had a fifth ruled out for offside after more fabulous football and a great cross by Fornals.

But the final whistle was always going to blow with West Ham the winners.

The win was massive for The Hammers, reminding them that they are comfortably better than the teams around them, and that they have the ability to go and brush teams aside.

It also moved them up to 13th, six points above the relegation places with a game in hand on all their rivals. It puts them three points behind Palace, with a meeting between the two coming up next weekend, although both have midweek games to contend with first.

It was the third away win of the season, and more impressively, their seventh game in 21 days. It's four wins, three clean sheets and only ine defeat in that time, and we can forget the Newcastle capitulation in favour of it also being one more European semi-final qualified for in that time, too.

Maybe, just maybe, West Ham are starting to click just when it matters.


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Manager's Rating

David Moyes 9/10: Came with a plan, and that plan absolutely worked. Used his bench, and his bench repaid him. His side are waking up and whilst it's been a difficult season, he's guided them into a European semi-final and now they might be finding form.

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Player Ratings

Lukasz Fabianski
Made good saves when called upon, some vital, and an especially good punch under serious pressure when we looked to have been unlocked.


Vladimir Coufal
Coufal's return to form really has sparked West Ham's return to form. He's been very good in each of the last six games, defending very well and offering a lot more in attack. The long throws are also a valuable asset, and Coufal has gone from one to replace to a star player.


Aaron Cresswell
His deliveries were excellent and key to the win. Defended well, passed well - as he always does. It's his spot again.


Kurt Zouma
Odd moment of bother, but Zouma has been a consistent rock in recent weeks.


Nayef Aguerd
Less assured, but a little leeway should be given to the defender. It might be late in the season, but he's playing catch up in his time adapting to the Premier League.


Declan Rice
Playing against lesser mortals. Rice was fantastic, took his goal wonderfully, passed better as the game went on, looked sharper and more relaxed. 10 more years couldn't be too long.


Tomas Soucek
A useful, if limited support act. It's working better, even if he seems quiet. He just goes about his job, and he did make more runs into the area. One of them will drop the right way for him soon.


Lucas Paqueta
It might be that the freedom to play almost alongside Antonio has helped, but it's more likely that good performances from the attacking unit have unlocked Paqueta. The header was bruising, but he just seemed to fit within the structure more than ever. Having Antonio looking sharp and moving better is a huge help.


Said Benrahma
A few wasted opportunities, but it is more that he just doesn't seem to be excelling with the unit at the moment. A more traditional left wing role maybe forces him to be going backwards too often, and is likely more suited to Fornals.


Jarrod Bowen
A constant thorn down the right side, and now that both Coufal and Antonio have found form, he's got better options to play off and with. Good assist, crested chances and could have scored himself.


Michail Antonio
Took his goal very well, caused issues, worked hard. His return to form has made evening else look better.



Substitutes

Danny Ings
(Replaced Antonio 65) Got about but doesn't have an impact as a lone striker.


Pablo Fornals
(Replaced Benrahma 65) Brilliant improvisation and a good performance with his passing.


Flynn Downes
(Replaced Paqueta 76) One stinging shot a good reminder that he's not just a destructive midfielder.


Max Cornet
(Replaced Bowen 76) Probably should have stayed onside, but getting in the right positions.


Thilo Kehrer
(Replaced Coufal 83) Very easy 10 minutes.


Alphonse Areola
Did not play.


Emerson Palmieri
Did not play. Other unused subs: Manuel Lanzini


Angelo Ogbonna
Did not play. Other unused subs: Manuel Lanzini



Match Facts

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, Aaron Cresswell, Kurt Zouma, Nayef Aguerd, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Lucas Paqueta, Said Benrahma, Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio.

Goals: Michail Antonio 5 Lucas Antonioa 12 Declan Rice 43 Pablo Fornals 72            .

Booked: Nayef Aguerd  Lucasz Fabianski         .

Sent off: None.

Bournemouth: Neto, Mepham, Stephens, Kelly (Viña 61), Smith (Anthony 61), Lerma (Cook 75), Rothwell (Moore 46), Tavernier, Christie (Ouattara 61), Billing, Solanke.

Subs not used: Travers, Semenyo, Senesi, Zabarnyi.

Goals: .

Booked: Moore.

Sent off: None.

Referee: Anthony Taylor.

Attendance: 10,465.

Man of the Match: Lucas Paqueta.