Hammers Not Sharp Enough to Kill off Blades
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 27 Oct 2019 13:39:00
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October looked as though it would be a crucial month for West Ham United but instead, they only managed to pick up one point from three fixtures. That point came as a result of Sheffield United's unbeaten away record continuing in Stratford on Saturday afternoon.

Manuel Pellegrini made five changes after seeing his side's unbeaten run on the road end at Everton last weekend. Ryan Fredericks, Angelo Ogbonna, Arthur Masuaku, Manuel Lanzini and Pablo Fornals all dropped to the bench, meaning Pablo Zabaleta, Aaron Cresswell, Fabián Balbuena, Robert Snodgrass and Andriy Yarmolenko were all called upon to start.

After back-to-back defeats either side of the international break and having not picked up a victory since 22 September, the Hammers were keen to try and get back to winning ways and despite their first-half domination, they were unable to provide the telling touch in front of goal.

Although he played a part in the opening goal at Goodison Park last weekend, Roberto Jiménez Gago made an instinctive save from David McGoldrick to prevent the visitors from going in front after Jack O'Connell had met John Fleck's corner.

The Irons' stopper made another superb save minutes later, as Callum Robinson was also denied an opener from much closer in.

The Blades are a well drilled side under Chris Wilder's guidance but the hosts eventually made the breakthrough just before the break. Jiménez Gago's kick upfield found Sébastien Haller, who pressurised Chris Basham into a mistake and he presented the ball straight to Yarmolenko. The Ukrainian then spotted Snodgrass, who found a way past goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

It was the perfect end to the first-half for the home faithful, who were hoping they could build on that advantage after the break as they applauded the team off the pitch.

West Ham survived a real scare after the restart when George Baldock had the chance to find an equaliser for Wilder's men but between them, both Cresswell and Jiménez Gago managed to block on the goal-line.

With their one-goal advantage still intact, West Ham were desperate to make the game safe and had the chance to do so but Henderson blocked Felipe Anderson's effort with his legs after the Brazilian had combined well with Yarmolenko.

That was to be the midfielders last involvement, as on 66 minutes, Pellegrini made his first change by replacing him with Lanzini.

The Blades, who have picked up some notable results in the Premier League since they were promoted back in May, made the Irons pay for missing a number of good chances when they equalised through substitute Lys Mousset on 71 minutes. Following Issa Diop's weak clearance from a Baldock header, Enda Stevens was alert to the danger and played in the Frenchman who beat Jiménez Gago and sent the away end wild.

On 78 minutes, Pellegrini decided to make another change, as captain Mark Noble was replaced by Fornals.

The substitute made an immediate impact as West Ham nearly grabbed the lead back just two minutes later. The Spaniard engineered some space down the right wing and delivered a cross which Yarmolenko met at the near post, only for Snodgrass to appear in an effort to try and double his tally for the afternoon. He tried to beat Henderson at his far post but unfortunately for the Scotsman, he only succeeded in hitting the post.

The former Hull City midfielder's game also ended prematurely, as Albian Ajeti was finally introduced to the home faithful in his place with four minutes of normal time to play.

As stoppage time was coming to an end, Yarmolenko had the chance to end the game in dramatic fashion but his effort went just wide.

All of which meant the Hammers had a point to show for October after they had suffered back-to-back defeats. They are in front of their home fans again on Saturday afternoon, as their November run starts with a visit from Newcastle United.

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