In a time where pressure continues to mount against under-fire manager Slaven Bilic, this game against Crystal Palace was one he needed to win. However, the final Crystal Palace goal broke the hearts of West Ham fans, and thus forcing us to deal with a draw. This is Five Things We Learned following that match.
Number 5: Slaven’s Starting XI.
You take a look at that Starting XI and you pick out the changes from the side which won against Tottenham mid-week. On paper, some questions are raised, however on the pitch, that’s a decent Starting XI.
Joe Hart was back in the sticks as he picks up his League place in the First Team. Pablo Zabaleta replaced Sam Byram on the Right Wing-Back position with Declan Rice making the bench, replaced by Jose Fonte and Andy Carroll replaced by Chicharito.
The Starting XI definitely looked really good, and made a better start, however things slowly unwound on themselves.
Number 4: The Chicharito-Ayew Partnership
Something I picked up on during this game is the partnership between Javier Hernandez and Andre Ayew. Recently, we’ve been discussing who’d be the ideal fit for partner with Hernandez, and I believe that question has just been answered.
Ayew, the second goalscorer, once again started this match and had a major impact against Crystal Palace as he consistently made the required runs up top to help out Hernandez as and when he needed to. This was a clear message to Slaven Bilic to keep pairing Ayew with Hernandez as the partnership between these two players is starting to form and could be a problem against the bigger clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea.
What can you honestly say about Andre Ayew? The man is as much of a team player as the rest of them, yet he still finds a way of blowing your mind when you least expect it. From picking up a brace against Tottenham to scoring the second goal for West Ham in the game against Palace, the lad is just going from strength to strength.
I will admit, I have been one of his critics, and still will be, especially with his passing in the second half, but he can take some credit in knowing that second goal was the difference between a draw and a loss.
Number 3: Passing and Service an issue.
Wilfried Zaha’s second goal for Palace was the final nail in the coffin and just showed exactly why we need to finish off games the exact same way we start them. However, the main issue here happens to be both passing and service into the box.
Throughout the game, several of our players made clumsy, stupid and lazy passes which was picked up by the strong Palace attacking force. As a result, possession was slowly decreased for this, but in saying that, it did prove the underlying issue still remains - Our passing ability as a team simply isn’t good enough.
And again, service into the box simply amazed me for this. At one point, we had Chicharito, Antonio and about two others up top with close to four Palace players in the box, defending. Hernandez was given the ball, but never made it into the box to score what could’ve been out third goal of the day. Four against four in the box could’ve been a bit messy, but it could’ve been done.
Service and passing are two things we need to work on in training.
Number 2: Crystal Palace very hard to beat in the Second Half.
Whatever was said by Roy Hodgson in the changing rooms at Half Time must’ve lit a fuse in the Crystal Palace team, because they looked very different compared to the team we successfully scored against. The skill, technique and creativity produced by the Crystal Palace team looked unlike anything we’d seen prior to the second half and showed that Roy is having a desired impact at Palace.
West Ham United also looked slightly different after half-time. With Aaron Cresswell making way for Arthur Masuaku, the team did look a little different, but once Masuaku found his form, it looked good. Unfortunately, we did concede a penalty, which was converted, however had that penalty not been awarded, then we still would’ve won the game, but unconvincingly.
Whether West Ham deserved to win that game, remains to be seen, but Crystal Palace looked by far the better team.
Number 1: That second Crystal Palace goal shouldn’t have happened.
What can you really say about the second goal by Crystal palace? So many things went in their favour within a small amount of time. Our players suddenly fell asleep, Zaha mingled his way through defenders, the window opened up perfectly just as he lined up a shot - In all fairness to Crystal Palace, that was an excellent goal with things working extremely well for you.
However, our defence fell asleep and seemingly dropped into a coma as that shouldn’t have happened. Zaha’s ability to line up a shot and fire it home should not be questioned, but the defender’s ability to defend does need to be questioned a little as that’s the type of goal which can destroy teams.
While the end result cannot be changed, players and staff are correct when they say this draw against Crystal Palace feels like a defeat.
Our next game is against Liverpool at the London Stadium. The tough games begin now.