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West Bromwich Albion 4-2 West Ham Utd

Filed: Saturday, 17th September 2016
By: Staff Writer

West Ham's defensive frailties were exposed for all to see as a previously goal-shy Albion ran riot at the Hawthorns this afternoon.

The Hammers, who had conceded nine goals in their opening four fixtures prior to today's meeting found themselves three down at the break following a first half littered with almost comical defensive errors.

But unlike in this fixture three seasons ago a (Scott Parker-led) inspired comeback was never on the cards and Slaven Bilic's side fell further behind - following yet more embarrassing defending - before a brief rally saw the final deficit reduced to slightly-less disastrous two goals.

Back in February of last year, ugly scenes erupted both during and after West Ham's 4-0 defeat here that sent Sam Allardyce's side tumbling out of the FA Cup and left co-owner Dave Sullivan having to face a barrage of abuse in the car park from a handful of angry fans.

However in some ways this particular defeat was even more concerning given West Ham's complete capitulation at the hands of a team who hadn't scored more than one goal in a game since last March and who had never previously scored four in the Premier League under current manager Tony Pulis.

It took Albion just eight minutes to register the game's first goal, when new signing Nacer Chadli - a recent arrival from Tottenham - converted from the penalty spot after Arthur Masuaku inexplicably handled the ball inside the area when under no immediate pressure.

The hosts doubled their lead eight minutes ahead of the half time interval following a mistake from Italian international Angelo Ogbonna, who instead of simply clearing his lines opted to deliver a hospital ball which was picked up by Chadli and finished by Salomon Rondon.

And there was still time for the Baggies to add a third before referee Mark Clattenburg called time on a dreadful first half for the visitors. A straightforward corner was half-cleared to (an unmarked) Chadli, lurking on the edge of the box, and his shot was deflected into the net via James McClean.

Despite a horror showing in the first half worse was to follow for Bilic's side before the tide began to turn. A United corner broke down and Albion broke - with all 10 of West Ham's outfield players in the opposition's final third - in a move that ended with Chadli adding his second of the day.

Fortunately perhaps for the Hammers, whose defensive display must rank as one of the most inept performances in recent seasons, Albion were happy to defend their healthy advantage and it was the Hammers - who enjoyed 71 per cent of possession overall - that pressed for most of the second period.

For that, they were rewarded twice - firstly when the in-form and the sole-shining-light-in-recent-weeks Michail Antonio grabbed his fifth goal in four games on 61 minutes with a guided header. Then, four minutes later Manuel Lanzini grabbed his first of the campaign from the penalty spot after DImi Payet was tripped as he surged towards goal.

Slaven Bilic, whose team have been leaking goals since the latter stages of the last campaign clearly has much work ahead as he attempts to stem the flow. However his defensive options remain limited; of some 60million (gross) that was spent during the summer transfer window, just one tenth of that went on defenders - a solitary 6million fee for the error-prone Masuaku.

Alvaro Arbeloa - who should make his debut this week against Accrington Stanley - also arrived on a free transfer but the 10million gained by selling James Tomkins (who scored today) to Crystal Palace eclipsed the club's outlay.

Meanwhile a number of those more advanced players introduced to the squad this summer - the likes of Havard Nordtveit, Simone Zaza, Gokhan Tore and Jonathan Calleri - have thus far shown little to illustrate that they deserve a place in Bilic's first XI, or a spot in any top-half Premier League team.

West Ham Utd: Adrian, Nordtveit, Collins, Ogbonna, Masuaku (Fletcher 77), Kouyate, Antonio, Noble (Feghouli 46), Lanzini, Payet, Zaza (Calleri 46).

Subs not used: Randolph, Obiang, Tore, Oxford.

Goals: Antonio (60), Lanzini (65).

Booked: Feghouli (86).

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Dawson, Evans, McAuley, Galloway (Nyom 68), Phillips, Fletcher, Yacob, McClean, Chadli (Morrison 75), Rondon (Robson-Kanu 87).

Subs not used: Myhill, Olsson, Gardner, Berahino.

Goals: Chadli (pen 8, 56), Rondon (37), McClean (44).

Booked: Dawson (43), Nyom (86).

Referee: Mark Clattenburg.

Attendance: 22,209.

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