Premier League
West Ham United 2 Norwich City 0

Saturday, 31st August 2019
by Chris Wilkerson

West Ham United picked up their first home victory of the season with a professional and dominant win against newly promoted Norwich City.

Recording their first clean sheet of the new campaign, Manuel Pellegrini’s side took a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Sebastian Haller and Andriy Yarmolenko.

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The Hammers started slowly, with the energy and enthusiasm of Norwich taking a grip of the opening proceedings. The home side were sloppy, but as impressive as the visitors started, they did little to threaten goal.

The home side threatened first, with Haller and Anderson combining well on the break to then feed Lanzini in the box, but between he and Yarmolenko, the chance was wasted.

With the slow start, West Ham used this first opening to take a foothold in the game and stamp their authority on it. Led by Noble, there was a little bit of physicality in brought in that seemed to disrupt the rhythm of Norwich and showed a gap between established Premier League side and the somewhat naive exuberance of Daniel Farke’s side.

As a little bit of experienced professionalism started to turn the game in the home side’s favour, it was Anderson and Lanzini floating into space and away from defenders that proved the extra quality needed to open teams up.

The Brazilian should have scored a few minutes later, after combinations between Lanzini and Haller went on to Yarmolenko. His pass freed Anderson, who drove into the box. Delaying a shot, possibly looking inside for a better positioned teammate, Anderson released a shot closer to goal and was stopped by a fantastic last-ditch tackle by Christoph Zimmermann.

It was an intervention like this that highlighted why the German’s injury was such a huge blow to Norwich.

Making a routine clearance, Zimmermann was chopped down by Haller, arriving late to block. It was late, but not malicious, and whilst it should have been punished by a yellow card, it was also typical of a “striker’s challenge.”

The defender battled on for another 15 minutes before leaving the field, but was clearly hindered as he tried to make it through.

Not long after that, his lack of movement was exposed and West Ham took advantage, and they took the lead too.

Masuaku set off from inside the West Ham half and drove forward. Laying off to Anderson, he continued his run and was found by a perfect pass from the winger, who rolled it between the full back and Zimmermann.

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Masuaku took it on, bursting past both men and sliding across a delightful cross. It needed only a touch to knock it in, and Haller went sliding in to knock the ball into the net from six yards and give the Hammers the lead with his first goal at the London Stadium.

Noble continued to get about midfield and make things uncomfortable for Norwich’s creators, in particular the in-form Cantwell who was beginning to look outraged at every tackle coming his way.

Norwich were blunt, but they did create one big chance in the first half.

Max Aarons got forward from right back and beat both Anderson and Masuaku His cross went across the face of goal and met the head of Cantwell at the far post, but the young England midfielder mistimed his leap and got under the ball, flicking it wide of the goal.

The Hammers ended the half with a 1-0 lead that was quietly deserved, not due to overwhelming attacking play, but smartly controlling the match in a way that hasn’t been apparent in the three prior games.

The second half started without change, and West Ham took control of the ball to continue keeping Norwich at arm’s length. It was again Lanzini and Anderson who moved the ball around with a skill the away side could rarely handle.

A quiet opening ten minutes was possibly exactly what West Ham required to squash any enthusiasm in the Norwich players and their support, but a second goal was more important.

It looked to have come in the 54th minute. A short corner to Noble saw him dribble by his man on the right hand side and cross to the back post. It dropped to Yarmolenko, whose first time volley beat Tim Krul comfortably, but smashed the inside of the post and flew away to safety.

Fortunately for West Ham, the ball was never properly cleared, and the second goal came very quickly, the volleyed effort by Yarmolenko a precursor of what to come.

Norwich had a chance to take control of the ball after getting it away following Yarmolenko’s effort. Instead they passed it back down their own flank to find Andriy Yarmolenko.

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He beat his man inside and out, sliding into the area and rolling it to Noble. The captain tried a pass into the box and was lucky to see the interception float back to the Ukrainian winger, who volleyed it first time once more and rifling into the back of the net for 2-0. His celebration led him onto the bench to high-five the medical staff that got him back playing again after his horror injury last season.

It was a goal that killed off the game, Norwich making barely a dent from there and Felipe Anderson absolutely taking control of the game.

West Ham will have been disappointed not to add more and really finish off the match.

Diop had a header cleared off the line, Lanzini rose in the middle of the box to meet a quite sumptuous Masuaku cross and forced a great save by Krul,

There were more efforts, Anderson testing Krul from range and the ‘keeper recovering brilliantly to then stop the rebound from Haller.

What was clear was that West Ham were not only smarter and more experienced than Norwich, but also looked fitter than their opponents, much like they had against Watford the week before.

There was time for some VAR confusion too, with Haller quite clearly fouled in the area but ignored by both the referee and the technology.

Norwich nearly scored in stoppage time, but Fabianski had been so rarely challenged and the defence deserved their clean sheet.

Impressively, Norwich had been limited to only three shots on target, none bothering the goalkeeper. Considering the goals against Liverpool, Newcastle and Chelsea in their three opening games, with multiple chances and plaudits for their attacking ability, the way West Ham had blunted the visitors was hugely welcomed.

The 2-0 win made it three on the spin for Pellegrini and his side, seven Premier League points and an early fifth position in the table, a seven point August giving the side momentum going into the international break.

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Player Ratings

Lukasz Fabianski
Easy game, but held everything he had to deal with.


Ryan Fredericks
Some sloppy moments, but again showing how vital his pace is in defence, covering others.


Arthur Masuaku
Threatened rarely but did see the odd moment where Aarons got round him. But he was otherwise excellent and his crossing superb, which earned the first goal.


Issa Diop
Unchallenged, made it an easy game for himself by being a step ahead of Norwich’s play. Moved out of defence brilliantly on a few occasions.


Angelo Ogbonna
Mainly dealt with Pukki and did it well. Looking solid.


Declan Rice
Comfortably went about his work. A few fouls in there that were actually nice to see, a little bit imposing and done in the right areas.


Mark Noble
Set a tone in the middle. Wasn’t as good with his forward passing, but got in and about Norwich when they started well and bullied them, especially Cantwell. Probably turned the game.


Felipe Anderson
Absolutely magic. Just unplayable for much of the second half, was toying with Norwich defenders and midfielders all over the pitch. Worth rewatching the game to watch him play.


Manuel Lanzini
Dovetailing with Anderson, the two were too smart and fluid on the ball for Norwich.


Andriy Yarmolenko
Was having an up and down game before his goal, which was excellently taken. Does have the makings of a striker about him and was the one who got close to Haller.


Sebastien Haller
Put himself about well, linked with Lanzini and Anderson really well too and excellent to see another poacher’s goal. Should have won a penalty too.



Substitutes

Robert Snodgrass
(Replace Yarmolenko) Dallied a few times on the ball but was getting up and down the pitch to close off the game and help on the counter.


Carlos Sanchez
(Replaced Noble) Did very little, just comfortably holding the late midfield shape.


Pablo Fornals
(Replaced Anderson) Few minutes but he ran hard and had a few nice touches.


Roberto Jimenez Gago
Did not play.


Pablo Zabaleta
Did not play.


Fabian Balbuena
Did not play.


Albian Ajeti
Did not play.



Match Facts

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Arthur Masuaku, Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko, Sebastien Haller.

Goals: Sebastien Haller 24 Andriy Yarmolenko 56                .

Booked: Ryan Fredericks 60 Robert Snodgrass 74        .

Sent off: None.

Norwich City: Krul, Aarons, Godfrey, Zimmermann (Amadou 36), Lewis, Leitner, Trybull, Buendia, Cantwell (McLean 78), Stiepermann (Drmic 78), Pukki.

Subs not used: Fahrmann, Byram, Tettey, Vranic.

Goals: .

Booked: Aarons (62).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Paul Tierney.

Attendance: 59,950.

Man of the Match: Felipe Anderson.