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The sky is the limit for David Moyes as his ‘new’ West Ham show another side of their character

Jack Rosser
·3-min read
 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

West Ham made it four wins from four in 2021 with victory against West Brom, and in doing so showed another side of their character.

At the halfway point in the season the Hammers sit on 32 points, their highest ever tally at this stage in a Premier League campaign - and just three shy of second-placed Manchester City.

This season has seen David Moyes and his side mix up their approach on a number of occasions.

After runs of being free-scoring and then the recent string of fine defensive displays, here the Hammers were challenged to respond after Matheus Pereira had cancelled out Jarrod Bowen’s opener. And respond they did.

Minutes after the goal, Manuel Lanzini saw a thumping effort headed off the line by Dara O’Shea before Declan Rice sent one effort just wide of the right-hand post and whistled another across the goal-line from a tight angle.

Aaron Cresswell had been a threat all evening from crosses and, with Andiry Yarmolenko sent on give him something to aim at, the full-back duly obliged. Yarmolenko met the cross at the far post and nodded down, and Michail Antonio moved swiftly to turn and finish his second goal in as many games.

The response showed an attacking verve not seen in recent weeks and, while there were some hairy moments late on, it showed another side to Moyes’s “new” West Ham.

After a poor start to the season against Newcastle with a back four that was quickly jettisoned for a robust five, the Hammers found their groove by sitting deep and tight and catching sides on the counter.

That shift brought a change in fortunes and brilliant wins over Wolves and Leicester, scoring seven and conceding none.

“We felt we had to find a way of getting ourselves back on track quickly and we went to a five,” said Moyes. “We played some great stuff and got brilliant results, look at Leicester and Wolves.”

POOL/AFP via Getty Images
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

A rethink was needed, however, when wing-back Arthur Masuaku was required to have knee surgery.

The run of form with a five-man defence had not only helped shore things up, but brought Cresswell back to his best and allowed Vladimir Coufal to settle easily in the side, meaning the return to the four at Leeds United kept a good start to the season going with a win.

Moyes has built a robust, versatile and impressive side in east London. Should they keep it up after a record-breaking first half to the season, the sky is the limit.

Bowen shows creative touch

Jarrod Bowen always brings something exciting and unpredictable to this West Ham side, but can often be found lacking in the decisive moment in front of goal.

The forward wasted a couple of fine chances against Burnley at the weekend, but showed some rather brilliant quick thinking to turn home Vladimir Coufal’s powerful cross with his chest here.

Clean sheet run comes to an end

West Ham’s greatest strength in recent weeks has been at the back. During the first half the Hammers passed the landmark of seven hours of football without conceding as they looked to keep four consecutive Premier League clean sheets for the first time since Sam Allardyce was in charge back in 2014. They’d been untroubled in the first half, but early in the second they softened up.

Kamil Grosicki’s pass was sent all too easily past Tomas Soucek before Matheus Pereira was allowed to meander forward, pick his spot and strike past a helpless Lukasz Fabianski with all of those in claret and blue just standing by.

The run had to come to an end sometime, but this felt a shoddy way for it to happen.

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