After an odd set of electrical circumstances which saw a power outage at Bet365 stadium, we finally kicked off here in chilly Stoke as West Ham United looked to continue their run of top form.
Marko Arnautovic makes his first trip back, visiting the Potters, and had quite a few chances in the first half that failed to come to fruition.
Manuel Lanzini’s form seems to be picking up with the rest of the team as he’s been a major spark so far in the first half, moving and passing the ball well. The only blemish being the dive, but it lead to a goal so we can’t fault him too much. More on that below. Another man in form, Arthur Masuaku, shows us why these last few matches are not a fluke, as many of his touches have been top class.
Sadly, Mark Noble seemed to clutch at his hamstring in the 30th minute, leaving the match and being replaced by, the kid, Declan Rice. Declan eased into the match quite seamlessly, further mounting his claim that he’s ready for high level footballing.
Was it a dive by Manuel Lanzini?
Karma, I say! We’ve been on the receiving end of that a few times, so, while frowned upon... karma. Here’s the goal and the play leading up to it. Take a look for yourself, a clear dive which will surely raise some questions at the end of the match. However there is still plenty of time left in this end to end, high paced, match. The lads on both sides are certainly up for it.
Expectations for Second Half
West Ham’s shape of 5-3-2 have been the key to much of their success, as well as the form of Masuaku and Arnautovic. The counter has been played to perfection when these two are on. Add Lanzini to the mix and we have a high paced, dangerous front line that take will most defenses by surprise. Keep the shape, keep the composure, and we should see out the match with another goal on our side.
Defense was the name of the game, with West Ham doing much of the work. Patience would win out the day for the Hammers, waiting to pounce in counter and bring the match to Stoke.
First, it was to be former Potter, Marko Arnautovic:
Then it would be Diafra Sakho who replaced the often tired, Michail Antonio, making it 3-0 and essentially finishing out the match for West Ham United.
West Ham have made the best of December, earning themselves 7 points in 3 matches. Prior to this run of form, Hammer fans were debating how many points they would need to survive the year. Now the conversation has shifted to, “how high can we rise?”.