Premier League
West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 3

Saturday, 2nd November 2019
by Chris Wilkerson

One of the worst performances West Ham United have produced at the London Stadium left them flattered by a 3-2 defeat at the hands of struggling Newcastle United.

With individuals errors throughout and guided by an obviously abysmal managerial performance, the home side were lucky not to go in five goals behind at half time, and two late goals should not hide atrocious this performance was.

It leaves Pellegrini's men without a win in five Premier League games and the manager facing questions about whether he has got what it takes to improve this team.

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West Ham were unchanged from the draw with Sheffield United, Manuel Pellegrini clearly happy with the performance as the Hammers drew with a newly promoted side.

But nothing suggested he had made the right decision, whether it was the clear lack of pace in the team, the missing invention against a side who sit deep or the evidence in front of him as his side started the game playing sloppy football.

The build up was slow whenever West Ham had the ball, and the team couldn't deal with the pace of the Newcastle forwards running at them.

It was an example of this that led to the first goal. Almiron beat Cresswell and Diop with ease before the latter took him down on the edge of the box.

From the freekick, it was 1-0' to Newcastle. The cross was floated to the backpost, where Joelinton rose easily above Balbuena to head the ball back across goal.

Ciaran Clark towered over Cresswell to meet it and headed powerfully beyond Roberto with 15 minutes on the clock.

Before this, the Hammers had lose their last seven games when conceding first. Unsurprisingly, things didn't get better.

Five minutes after the first, Roberto was beaten again. Newcastle worked a short corner and crossed from deep. This was a cue for Roberto to run halfway towards the three Newcastle players who were unopposed going for the ball. It was frankly embarrassingly easy for Fernandez to nod it over the Spaniard and into the net for 2-0.

The crowd were shellshocked; the players followed suit.

Moments later, they should have been punished.

What felt like every West Ham player went forward for a wasted freekick and was caught out by one forward pass that fed Saint-Maximin to charge on goal from the halfway line.

Anderson sprinted back to keep a modicum of pressure on, but it was a wasteful shot right at Roberto that kept the scoreline down.

Pellegrini stood motionless as he watched a team of slow players and functional runners struggling to match the pace of the counter attacks and the deep defensive line Newcastle held. How could he be surprised?

There was nothing to say for West Ham, only that they were lucky to be 2-0 down.

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Again they were caught from their own freekick and presented Newcastle with a chance. A hoofed clearance landed over Zabaleta and he turned to watch as Saint-Maximin again ran the whole half to go through on goal.

He again shot poorly, but the ball rebounded back to him. His clever pass across to Almiron should have been converted, but the Paraguayan rallied before Roberto rushed out to him and blocked his shot.

With the ball not truly cleared, Shelvey then smashed the bar from 20 yards as West Ham escaped again.

The half ended with a tame overhead kick by Haller and a good Balbuena header from a good Snodgrass corner, one of many he put in.

They went in at half time to a chorus of boos, louder than the ones that had come from the fans during the torrid first half. It should have been at least 4-0 to the only side not to have scored more than one goal in a game prior to this.

The changes came as the second half started as the quiet and ineffective Noble came off for Lanzini, whilst eyebrows were raised as consistent goal threat Yarmolenko was replaced by Albian Ajeti. The winger had been quiet in the half, but his influence this season has been consistent.

The system changed too, what looked nominally to have become a 4-4-2 with Snodgrass now wide right, but was realistically a system where Rice played central midfield alone.

It changed nothing. Newcastle remained in control of the game, having a goal ruled out for offside and dominating the play.

Five minutes after the restart, they extended their lead. A woeful Snodgrass challenge gave Steve Bruce's side a freekick 30 yards from goal.

Shelvey shot, Roberto got to it, but it appeared his hands were made from damp spaghetti as they were brushed aside by the dipping ball and all the Spaniard could do was soften its descent into the goal.

It was entirely deserved for Newcastle, whilst Roberto again managed to concede a goal he could easily have stopped. A comfortable save a few minutes after was greeted by ironic cheers from the home support who have clearly made up their mind about the goalkeeper.

Looking on from here, nothing was working. The changes hadn't solved any of the issues, whilst Felipe Anderson was the only one trying to get the ball and create. That it wasn't working looked poor on him, but no one else even tried hard enough to be able to fail.

Newcastle became content, probably quite confident this West Ham team could do little to hurt them; for the next 20 minutes it was hard to argue.

Haller retreated, and then seemed incapable of adding anything when in their area. Snodgrass toiled on the wing, failing to ever beat a man and offering crosses that threatened very little. Ajeti looked a competition winner, whilst Zabaleta looked retired. Rice too was having his worst game in a West Ham shirt.

But with hope all but gone and many fans leaving, the Irons got one back.

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After a lovely cross, Snodgrass made it over to take another corner. It was flicked towards goal by Haller, forcing the goalkeeper into action. He could only parry back into danger and straight into the path of Balbuena, who gleefully passed the ball into an open net.

With around 25 minutes remaining, West Ham had a chance to make a game of it.

It seemed a task way out of their reach, even if Anderson had started beating players and running beyond them after doing it.

With 90 minutes on the clock, the brief flicker had seemed only a tease.

But they weren't done giving false hope. Lanzini glided down the left hand side of the area and floated a ball to the edge of the box.

It was met gloriously by Robert Snodgrass, whose volley was drilled at pace into the bottom corner. It was unstoppable and gave West Ham five stoppage time minutes to rescue a point from this train-wreck of a performance.

They couldn't. It was all they had left, with the five minutes ticking away without incident.

It was harsh on Newcastle to have even seen the result in doubt, so easily had they outplayed West Ham. They may have allowed them time on the ball and apparent control of the game, but their deep line and sharp counters seemed to terrify the home side, whilst the three set-piece goals were child's play.

It left West Ham looking at one point from three home games against Crystal Palace, Newcastle United and Sheffield United.

It left Pellegrini looking many things, and none of them pretty. His selections were either stupid or arrogant, his team again left playing slow and stodgy football. Are they ever set out with any instructions about how the other side play?

For the first time, the Chilean will be facing strong questions about his suitability for the job.

The season looked dead and buried in the last few games. But anyone worried it would be boring can now look at the ever-reducing gap to the relegation zone, and see that struggling Newcastle are only one point behind Pellegrini's side.

Now comes a tough run of fixtures, with only two of the next seven at home. Those games are against Tottenham and Arsenal.

The good news is that the manager hopes to see Antonio back after the international break. The bad news is that this squad has been left in such a state that our season relies on him coming back firing.

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Player Ratings

Roberto Jimenez Gago
Lucky to get that, but he did make some good saves. Goalkeeping for goals two and three was pathetic.


Pablo Zabaleta
Why did his manager put him up against a side whose biggest asset is counter attacking pace? He was embarrassed at times.


Aaron Cresswell
Equally destroyed by their pace, but least offered an option to pass to on the attack. May have played the worst pass inside the box Iíve ever seen.


Issa Diop
The foul for the freekick that led to their opener is the kind of rash thing he keeps doing.


Fabian Balbuena
A woeful first half where he looked amateurish was saved by a second half with two vital last-man interventions and a goal. Still, he shouldnít be playing ahead of Ogbonna, who is our only dominant aerial defender and would not have been so easily beaten by Joelinton.


Declan Rice
His worst game in a West Ham shirt, including the duck against Arsenal. Made sloppy errors and had no answer to the breakaway pace.


Mark Noble
Has needed dropping for a few games and was anonymous here.


Felipe Anderson
A lot of things didnít work, but he had the guts to try play. Heíll get criticism for some poor passing, but everyone else hid. Also the man who tracked Saint-Maximin for both his runs at goal, at least adding pressure. Gets an ok score on the basis that at least he had the character to play football.


Robert Snodgrass
He still isnít a winger, but heís a must in the team. Worked hard, but really it was the set pieces. And a glorious goal.


Andriy Yarmolenko
Only deserved to stay on because of past efforts. Did nothing today. Doesnít come back to defend set pieces, yet heís arguably close to the tallest player.


Sebastian Haller
Drifted harmlessly and then seemed to actively try not to be useful in their box. Misplaced passes and bad touches throughout.



Substitutes

Albian Ajeti
(Replaced Noble) Offered close to nothing.


Manuel Lanzini
(Replaced Yarmolenko) Did start to show for the ball and try ensure it wasnít Anderson alone trying to create. Very good assist for Snodgrass.


Ryan Fredericks
(Replaced Zabaleta) Should have started. Immediately showed himself more than fast enough to track their attackers. He and Masuaku were musts today and the manager deserves heavy criticism for leaving both ours.


David Martin
Did not play.


Angelo Ogbonna
Did not play.


Carlos Sanchez
Did not play.


Pablo Fornals
Did not play.



Match Facts

West Ham United: Roberto Jimenez Gago, Pablo Zabaleta, Aaron Cresswell, Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Felipe Anderson, Robert Snodgrass, Andriy Yarmolenko, Sebastian Haller.

Goals: Fabian Balbuena 73 Robert Snodgrass 90                .

Booked: Issa Diop 14 Aaron Cresswell 49        .

Sent off: None.

Newcastle United: Dubravka, Yedlin, Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark, Willems (Dummett 87), Almiron, Shelvey, Hayden, Saint-Maximin (Atsu 77), Joelinton (Carroll 89).

Subs not used: Darlow, Krafth, M Longstaff, Gayle.

Goals: Clark (16), Fernandez (22), Shelvey (51).

Booked: Federico FernŠndez (90+4).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Stuart Attwell.

Attendance: 59,907.

Man of the Match: Robert Snodgrass.