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Premier League
Saturday, 3rd February 2018

Brighton & Hove Albion 3
West Ham United 1

by David Fletcher


West Ham's unbeaten run in the Premier League came to an anti-climatic end as they were beaten convincingly by Brighton.

From the very beginning, the pattern of the game was established. West Ham were on the back foot as Brighton committed men forward and they eventually asserted their authority in the seventh minute as they took advantage from a dreadful piece of West Ham defending, turning defence into attack in a blink of an eye.

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A poor pass from Chicharito unleashed the Brighton counter attack. A shocking challenge from Aaron Cresswell, that would later see him booked, brought down Anthony Knockaert but wasn't enough to halt Brighton's attack as they continued to charge forward in support.

Having witnessed Cresswell's involvement in play, the West Ham defence suddenly switched off, allowing Pascal Gro? to slide it through to Glen Murray who comfortably slotted home the opener.

Even after conceding, West Ham couldn't pull themselves together. They lacked cohesion between defence and attack partly due to their injury prone squad and subsequent makeshift midfield, allowing Brighton to enjoy as much of the possession as they wished.

However, the home side failed to capitalise on their fruitful first 25 minutes as their defence momentarily slackened allowing Cresswell's cross to find Sam Byram free in the box, though Shane Duffy promptly improvised to make a swift goal-line clearance.

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Shortly after West Ham were level thanks to a moment of inspiration from Javier Hernandez. A meaningless spell of possession suddenly sprung to life as Chicharito dropped into midfield and played a quick pass to Mark Noble who found Joao Mario, who despite being tightly marked, managed to flick it back to the Mexican who wriggled his way through and found the top corner leaving 'keeper Matthew Ryan with no chance.

Despite their virtuous equaliser, West Ham were incredibly lucky to remain on level terms going into half time having been let off the hook on multiple occasions by their opponents who couldn't make the most of loose balls inside the West Ham penalty area.

The second half was to be more of the same as the Hammers lacked intent going forward and weren't keen on regaining the ball when dispossessed.

The pace of the game slowed down and it took something special from Brighton to deservedly regain the lead. A poor corner from the home side was only cleared away to the far corner of the penalty area. Seeing as no one was pressurising him, Jose Izquierdo took a chance and lobbed the ball over 'keeper Adrian into the top corner.

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From then on in, Brighton turned it up a gear and were flooding West Ham with chances. They would double their lead with fifteen minutes to go when a poor long ball from Collins was intercepted, the ball was then at the feet of Gro? who found a little bit of space and curled it into the near post to effectively put the game beyond West Ham's reach.

Shortly after, Gro? was given the opportunity to rub salt in West Ham's wounds when he managed to go one-on-one against the goalkeeper after the Hammers offside trap backfired, but his shot was well met by Adrian and the rebound was miscued by Izquierdo, whose volley went wide.

Although the game finished with just a two-goal difference, the home side had many opportunities, especially in the latter stages of the encounter to convincingly put the game out of sight. Even so, the defeat underlines the problems that are beginning to reappear around the club as the fans walked out of the Amex Stadium in utter disgust.

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Player Ratings

Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Conceded three well taken goals that he could hardly take the blame for. Made up for it with a few decent saves.


Sam Byram
Missed a few clear headers and lacked confidence overall in defence as well as in attack.


James Collins
Not sharp enough and couldn't keep up with Brighton's pace of football, especially for the first goal.


Angelo Ogbonna
Not his usual consistent self, making many basic mistakes and majorly at fault for Brighton's first goal.


Declan Rice
Held the line well but was far from his best.


Aaron Cresswell
Though he was quite poor on the ball and wreckless in his tackling, he was one of very few players in claret and blue to provide his team mates with good opportunities thanks to his crossing ability putting some excellent balls in and around the Brighton penalty area.


Pablo Zabaleta
Failed to step in defensively in midfield leaving many gaps in midfield for Brighton to exploit.


Cheikhou Kouyate
Played in an advanced role that he clearly wasn't comfortable with.


Mark Noble
Very poor and tremendously slow on the ball.


Joao Mario
Was very quiet in large spells of the game but did show glimpses of what an intelligent player he is, but lacked a more attacking-minded midfield partner to link up with.


Javier Hernandez
With such a defensive looking side he was a lonely figure up front. Did remarkably well to get himself on the scoresheet with an impressive goal.


Substitutes


Michail Antonio
(Replaced Rice) Relented the few attacks West Ham had while he was on the pitch and provided absolutely nothing to the cause. Clearly still on the road to recovery from injuries.


Jordan Hugill
(Replaced Byram) Put himself about for a few minutes on his debut.


Joe Hart
(Replaced Antonio) No comments.


Winston Reid
Did not play.


Jose Fonte
Did not play.


Josh Cullen
Did not play.


Sead Haksabanovic
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Roger East.

Attendance: 30,589.

Man of the Match: Joao Mario.

West Ham United

Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo, Sam Byram, James Collins, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Aaron Cresswell, Pablo Zabaleta, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Joao Mario, Javier Hernandez.

Goals: Javier Hernandez 30                  .

Booked: Aaron Cresswell 8          .

Sent off: None.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Ryan, Schelotto, Duffy, Dunk, Bong, Knockaert (March 77), Stephens, Propper, Izquierdo, Gross (Kayal 83), Murray (Ulloa 72).

Substitutes: .

Subs not used: Krul, Goldson, Bruno, Baldock.

Goals: Murray (7), Izquierdo (59), Gross (75).

Booked: Dunk (50), Izquierdo (60), Stephens (81).

Sent Off: .

 
David Fletcher's Man of the Match: Joao Mario


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