Hammers Taken Apart by Wolves
By Tom Dowsett
Thursday 31 Jan 2019 13:44:00
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West Ham United went into the game with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on Tuesday night hoping they would be able to get back to winning ways after the embarrassing FA Cup exit at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday but unfortunately for them, Nuno Espírito Santo's men achieved a first home win over the Hammers since 1982 by producing an emphatic performance to triumph 3-0.

As expected, it was a much changed side from the team that faced the Dons at the weekend, as Manuel Pellegrini restored Lukasz Fabianski, Declan Rice, Pablo Zabaleta and Felipe Anderson to the starting line-up, Marko Arnautovic was also given his first start since 12 January after putting pen to paper on an extension to his current deal at the weekend.

Both teams were clearly trying to get the measure of one another in a sluggish first-half however, the Irons had the best of the opening stages. A great team move involving captain Mark Noble, Rice, and Anderson saw the Brazilian set up Arthur Masuaku. He did well to take a touch but his effort only found the side netting.

More impressive play was to follow from West Ham but the end product was sadly lacking. Evidence of this was shown when Zabaleta found Arnautovic but his ball just eluded the Austrian, while Anderson went close minutes later but he could only shoot wide of the target.

The hosts then suddenly found their rhythm and went close through Leander Dendonker but his header produced a terrific save from Fabianski before Johnny Otto put his headed chance wide.

Dendonker was a constant thorn in West Ham's side as he went even closer minutes later but the away end could breathe a collective sigh of relief, as they saw his effort come back off the post.

Pellegrini's men were delighted to see the linesman raise his flag as Dendonker used his head again to beat Fabianski on 36 minutes.

Wolves were really applying the pressure as they looked to take a half-time lead but they found the Pole in inspired form, as he made two more stunning saves to keep his side in the contest.

Although the game was still goalless, it was another tame showing from the Hammers and they were hoping that things would improve after the break.

The home side went into this game off the back of a 4-3 victory over Leicester City in their last league outing and were desperate to build on that result by claiming all three points here.

In contrast to the first 45 minutes the hosts took complete control and were clearly favourites to be the first to break the deadlock.

Fabianski was definitely the busier goalkeeper at the end of the first-half and was the first to be called into action when the match restarted.

He made another great double save after both Diogo Jota and Romian Saïss had tested him before his luck finally ran out on 66 minutes when Saiss headed past him having raced into the box, while leaving Angelo Ogbonna in his wake.

Pellegrini then turned to his bench and introduced Pedro Obiang and Andy Carroll within a minute of each other, as they took the places of both Robert Snodgrass and the skipper.

The manager then waited to make his final substitution, as he thought he would have to replace Fabianski with Adrián after the former Swansea City stopper went down injured and received lengthy treatment. Thankfully he recovered well enough to continue and instead, Javier Hernández replaced Arnautovic who seemed to badly injure his foot.

West Ham's week soon went from bad to worse minutes later. Not only had they lost their "star man" but they were now two goals behind.

Raúl Jiménez added a second for Nuno Espírito Santo's side when he got goal-side of Rice, making it an easy finish past Fabianski.

Jiménez wasn't finished there however, as he made it three, meaning it was now game over for the East Londoners.

Stoppage time was successfully negotiated without the scoreline increasing for the visitors but it did mean that they have now lost three consecutive games for the first time since the reverse fixture was played back in September.

In other news, Pellegrini completed his second capture of the January transfer window on Wednesday, as Portuguese forward Mésaque Djú arrived in the East End from Benfica. He, along with any other potential deadline day signings will hope to make his debut in Monday night's home encounter with current Premier League leaders Liverpool.

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