Hammers Buzzing After Hornets Victory
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 11 Feb 2018 16:45:00
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In contrast to the game at Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend, there was little disgruntlement among the West Ham United fans in Stratford on Saturday afternoon, as they saw their team pick up their first Premier League win since 13 January, when the Hammers beat Watford 2-0.

David Moyes made two changes to the team that lost to the Seagulls last weekend. Marko Arnautović made a quicker than expected return from the hamstring injury he picked up after the home fixture against AFC Bournemouth last month, while Michail Antonio also came in with Sam Byram and Declan Rice dropping to the bench.

New signing Patrice Evra was only fit enough for the bench, while Jordan Hugill found himself amongst the substitutes for the second week in succession.

The visitors had moved further ahead of the Irons after their spectacular home win over Chelsea on Monday and were keen to build on that, while the home side wanted to bounce back after that defeat at The American Express Community Stadium.

It was Adrián who made sure that the game remained level by making a outstanding save after only seven minutes. A short corner was sent into the box by José Holebas and the Spaniard managed to get vital touch to Adrian Mariappa's header to prevent it from beating him.

Arnautović was clearly making a difference and he played in João Mário who was unfortunate not to beat goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis as he got his legs in the way of the midfielder's effort.

The home side had the ball in the net after 30 minutes when Javier Hernández headed in Mário's freekick but celebrations were cut short, as the effort was ruled out for what was an extremely debatable offside decision.

There could have been more disappointment just minutes later but fortunately Adrián did well to save Étienne Capoue's well-struck attempt.

The hosts had a great chance on 37 minutes but they couldn't beat Karnezis. This time Arnautović was denied after a header from James Collins had presented him with a good opportunity.

However, just seconds later, they did go ahead when Antonio raced past Darryl Janmaat and crossed perfectly for Hernández who headed past Karnezis and this time it did count.

In this fixture a year ago, West Ham were two goals up, only to concede twice before half-time. Thankfully though, that wasn't the case this time around when referee Graham Scott blew the half-time whistle.

The hosts had chances to extend their advantage after the break but the best opening fell the way of Javi Gracia's men on 56 minutes when Gerard Deulofeu went close with a dipping freekick but Adrián kept the effort out.

The Irons survived a few scares as the visitors had chances to equalise before they nearly sealed the points themselves as Hernández was denied on two occasions. 

Firstly he did brilliantly to break the offside trap and all he had to do was knock the ball past Karnezis but spurned the chance then almost setting up Arnautović but his cross-shot didn't reach the former Stoke City winger.

On 77 minutes Moyes made his first change as he replaced Mário with Byram.

As he often is, Arnautović had been a constant threat all afternoon and he finally got his name on the scoresheet with 78 minutes gone, as the ball fell invitingly for him to beat Karnezis.

The Hornets were trying everything to pull a goal back but West Ham's defence stood firm.

The manager made another substitution on 84 minutes, as he took off the man who had effectively sealed the win and Rice entered the fray.

Gracia's side were still seeing chances come and go before the home faithful was given a first glimpse at what Hugill could give them, as he took the place of the first goalscorer.

Three minutes of stoppage time were added before another vital three points were confirmed.

The defeat to Wigan Athletic in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup means that West Ham have a well-deserved week off before they face the tough looking challenge of Liverpool at Anfield on 24 February.

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