With the London Stadium rocking and everyone in high spirits for the real start of the season (we was always going to lose at Anfield, right?), a crowd of 54,000 packed into their seats, eating popcorn and pick ’n’ mix, swilling it down with Coca Cola in the thought of picking up 3 points in a game which i am certain that Manual Pellegrini and his team had firmly in the ‘3 Point Column’. A fairly slow opening 10 minutes from both sides ensued, with Bournemouth having more possession as West Ham took their time getting a foothold into the game, but West Ham did take control of the game and looked a much improved side to that at Anfield a week previous. Wilshire and Noble were superb in the opening half, working in close proximity and causing bedlam in the Bournemouth midfield. But as we are all aware we trudged back home after the game having managed to lose for a second successive game and remain bottom of the table going into next week’s ‘6 pointer” at the Emirates, lets have a look what went wrong.
Lets start with the line up, thinking as i am as the “Monday Morning Quarterback’ the gaffer made two selection mistakes, his first (and a repeat from last week) was selecting Masuaku at LB, many will argue he was great going forward, and linked up well with Anderson at times in the first half, but defensively he is just clumsy and not very clever. He is all to keen to invite the opponent in close, so he can try a drag back or nutmeg, this despite being the last line of defence, also positionally from our goal kicks he was out of position, playing so high up, level with or even further forward than Anderson on most occasions, we all have our heart beating faster when he flies into a tackle too, never knowing if he will come out of the tackle looking like Bobby Moore or Ryan Shawcross!
His second mistake was playing Ogbonna, at fault (wholly or partly) for both goals, with Wilson’s great goal for the Bournemouth equaliser, Ogbonna was tracking backwards in a fashion that we have not seen since Relegation Roger played in that game against Man City back in the day which caused Balbuena to come across and try and stop Wilsons run which in turn created the gap which allowed his cool finish. For the second goal, not only did Ogbonna bring down the Bournemouth attacker and concede the free kick, he was also charged with marking Steve Cook at the resultant set piece. He spent more time trying to do he Serie A grappling than mark his man, which left Cook free to head in the winner.
Both should certainly drop to the bench for next weeks visit to the Emirates, with the following players also on shaky ground about keeping their place in the 11.
Noble, was dynamite in the first half, back to near his best. So why am i saying he could be on shaky ground? As soon as he picked up his yellow card, he went from a 9/10 to a 4/10 performance, tip-toeing around as he could not make his trademark tackles to break up play. Instead needing Jack Wilshere to track back that extra 10 yards and help out.
Anderson, looked a little lightweight today, giving the ball away to often when trying a through ball or trick or flick which left the fans frustrated, for me his flicks and 5 yard cutting passes were not coming off because those around him never anticipated them as opposed to them being terrible balls.
Snodgrass, did little wrong so harshly banished to the “shaky ground” section, but i think with the physique and pace of Yarmalenko on the bench, this could be a changed in the starting 11 due to pressure from the player on the bench as opposed to Snodgrass actually doing much wrong.
With Fredericks, Antonio and Rice all banished from the 18 with no injuries in sight, clearly the gaffer is not afraid to shake thing up, after all he has always said it is a squad game.
Line up score 8/10
The substitutions were all fairly logical, but the timing could of been better, I have no problems with Yarmalenko replacing Hernandez on 67 minutes, but Sanchez should of replaced Noble as soon as he picked up his yellow card, we were effectively playing with 10 men as the bite had gone from Nobles game due to the yellow card, no room for sentiment, Noble was brilliant in the first half, but its all about the team, Sanchez should of been on much sooner this would of given Wilshire more freedom as he was constantly helping Noble out with his defensive duties. Snodgrass was quiet in the second half, so Perez could of come on 10 minutes earlier. Whilst Perez look bright and wanted the ball as soon as he came on, with limited time his possession and attempts at goal were all to rushed.
Substitutions score 5/10
Make no mistake, we lost this game which we were planning on chalking up three points from, but its not all doom and gloom, we lost this fixture the year Bilic got us to 7th too. We fans need to keep positive as there is almost more doom and gloom to come before we start our rise up the table. Saturday sees us in a clash with Arsenal at the Emirates with the loser likely sitting bottom of the table. We are now in a tough run of fixtures, so have faith in the manager. The clever short passing is starting to show, as we move the ball from left to right back and forward as we look to open up the opposition team to find that gap for the killer pass, Wilshere seems to be the cog in this aspect of the Pellegrini plan. It is a completely new style of play which will take time for the players and the fans to adapt too, have faith Rome was not built in a day!
If you happen to be the guy sat in front of me in the West Stand who insists passing and trying to create an opening is B****** and Fabianski should hit it direct to Arnie up front, for you my friend will need longer than most to accept and embrace the Pellegrini Project!
Next week we face a tough, tough test as Arsenal seemed to be cutting Chelsea opening time after time, with luck we won’t be on the end of a harsh defeat.
Arsenal 2 – 1 West Ham
Written By Daniel | @DixieDean78