Wednesday 21 August 2019

Moyes gets something to build on as Hammers make point

West Ham 1 Leicester 1

West Ham United manager David Moyes. Photo: Reuters
West Ham United manager David Moyes. Photo: Reuters

Martin Hardy

A first goal and first point for David Moyes at West Ham United - and a bit of a point made.

This wasn't exactly the most wondrous game of football, and wasn't exactly the coherent home display, but there was enough in it for West Ham to offer that bit more hope than has been felt over the dismal last week.

Leicester City's Demarai Gray in action with West Ham United's Marko Arnautovic. Photo: Reuters
Leicester City's Demarai Gray in action with West Ham United's Marko Arnautovic. Photo: Reuters

More than anything, there was a bit of life to the Olympic Stadium's atmosphere and a bit of spirit about West Ham, best shown with the way they recovered from Marc Albrighton's opening goal and how worryingly open they looked in the first 25 minutes here.

Moyes got the right response out of his team, though, even if there remains a fair bit wrong that still has to be fixed.

Jamie Vardy may be one of the fastest players in the league, and his fine run down the left here might have been key to giving Leicester such a quick lead, but the harsh reality was that he could have walked through the West Ham defence. The England international was given yards of spade to slide in his cross, and Albrighton left in acres to then divert the ball home.

There were many other moments when Leicester again opened West Ham's fragile structure, when the right pass could have made this a rout.

West Ham United's Cheikhou Kouyate scores his team's first goal. Photo: Reuters
West Ham United's Cheikhou Kouyate scores his team's first goal. Photo: Reuters

Demarai Gray was left particularly frustrated when free on the right of Joe Hart's goal, only to see Riyad Mahrez twist one way and then the other to take too much out of the play rather than taking the opportunity for the easy pass.

The Foxes were soon left even more frustrated just before half-time, when West Ham equalised for the first goal of the Moyes era.

There was an impetus and energy to West Ham, even if it was still lacking a direction and shape.

While Leicester always looked threatening on the break, those breaks happened because Moyes' side were often pinning them back.

Angelo Ogbonna had one close-range effort saved by Kasper Schmeichel, the Dane beat away a Manuel Lanzini free, and Harry Maguire just nicked the ball away from one of the Argentine's runs.

This was proper pressure from West Ham and it finally told with that most predictable of Moyes goals: a set-piece.

Lanzini swung it in, Kouyate got his head to it, and the ball went in off Danny Simpson.

It was also to Moyes' credit that, despite the presence of Andy Carroll up front, there was more to their play.

Lanzini was involved in some fine moves and there was also a conspicuous response from Marko Arnautovic, who looked fully willing to work the channels while offering a bit of wonder.

The stadium crackled again on 77 minutes when Lanzini played in Andre Ayew, only for the substitute to go down under a bit of contact from Maguire.

Replays revealed that any contact was innocuous, and that referee Martin Atkinson was right to wave play on.

Masuaku then got free in the box close to the end only to slip and let the ball roll out of play.

You could say it reflected the scrappy nature of the encounter but that would be unfair, just as any late winner from a speculative Ayew bicycle kick that ultimately went over would have been unfair on Leicester.

Moyes instead got a fair point, a first goal, and a bit of a foundation on which to build.

Irish Independent

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