Hammers move up table despite Villa stalemate
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 03 Nov 2013 12:16:00
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West Ham United managed to move up another place in the Barclays Premier League to 14th, despite only earning a goalless draw against Aston Villa at Upton Park on Saturday afternoon.

Although he stuck to his guns and employed the 4-6-0 formation again, Sam Allardyce made two changes from the last Premier League match against Swansea City six days earlier. Jack Collison, who had spent the last month on loan at Championship side Bournemouth returned to the starting line-up in place of the injured Ricardo Vaz Te and Matt Jarvis came in, as Mohamed Diame was dropped to the bench.

The visitors fashioned the first real opening of the game with only six minutes gone. Andreas Weimann raced ahead of James Tomkins but thankfully for the hosts, Jussi Jaaskelainen was out quickly to block his effort.

West Ham went close seven minutes later, when a great team move ended with Stewart Downing shooting, but goalkeeper Brad Guzan was able to catch at the second attempt.

The Hammers survived a penalty claim on 16 minutes, as Ravel Morrison tracked Weimann back superbly. The Austrian international wanted the spot kick but referee Howard Webb gave nothing.

The East Londoners then had a great chance to go ahead on 20 minutes, when club captain Kevin Nolan set up Jarvis, who rounded Guzan but the American recovered well to block. The hosts went even closer when a freekick was awarded for a foul on Rasvan Rat, Morrison's set-piece found Collison, who sent his effort inches wide of the post.

West Ham had most of the play in the first-half, but Villa were equal to everything they had thrown at them and when the whistle blew for half-time, the match remained goalless.

The second-half started with the home side applying more pressure on their opponents but, as has happened on numerous occasions already this season, they could not make it count. Aware of this, Allardyce made a double change as he replaced Jarvis and Collison with the two Coles.

Eight minutes later, a the hosts had a half chance, but once again they were unable to benefit. Downing managed to hold Leandro Bacuna back and the former Villa winger found devil with space to cross but when Guzan droped the ball, Carlton Cole reacted quickest but wasn't able to beat the American.

Paul Lambert's side had the chance of the game on 72 minutes, when some great build-up play set up Christian Benteke, whose header had Jaaskelainen beaten but fortunately for the home fans, the attempt came back off the crossbar and the Hammers could breathe a sigh of relief. At the other end, Nolan had a chance for the hosts, but his shot went into the side netting rather than between the posts.

Minutes later, Joe Cole forced a routine save out of use and as the American was proving to be the busier of the two goalkeepers.

In the last minute of the game, in an effort to try and hold on to what his team had, Big Sam replaced Rat with Diame.

Two minutes into the allotted four that were added at the end of the game, Joe Cole tested Guzan again but he was equal to the midfielder's effort.

That was the last effort of the game and West Ham has claimed another point. The Hammers are on their travels again next weekend, as they visit Carrow Road to play Norwich City in the evening kick-off on Saturday.

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