West Ham United 4-0 AFC Bournemouth
RETURNING boss, David Moyes, must have wondered what all the fuss was about after witnessing his West Ham United sides four-goal Premier League inhalation of fellow strugglers, AFC Bournemouth, at the London Stadium.
Moyes has again taken the reins during a state of huge uncertainty both on and off the field. West Ham – entrenched in the relegation zone ahead of kick-off following results earlier in the day – hadn’t tasted a home victory since September. Meanwhile, supporters had again questioned the ambitions of the clubs owners as the proverbial ‘vicious circle’ again appeared to surround the troubled outfit.
Indeed, the manager was fully aware of the minimum requirement to rectify the situation: “For me, it’s about finding a level of consistency and I’m really putting it out there – it’s for the players to grab the shirt and say, I’m keeping this,” the Scotsman explained.
Enthusiasm certainly seemed lacking from those arriving at the London Stadium. Nevertheless, selecting an altogether more orthodox 4-4-2 formation offered encouragement, as did an abundance of possession and an early opportunity, lifted over by Pablo Fornals.
But there was clearly something more robust and direct about the Hammers, and shortly before the twenty-minute mark, they took the lead. Mark Noble’s effort deflected off Lewis Cook, wrong-footing Cherries goalkeeper – Aaron Ramsdale – this after the busy Robert Snodgrass had fashioned an opening from the right.
The Moyes effect, or what? It was soon 2-0. Sebastien Haller reacted with a spectacularly scissor-kick after Ryan Fredericks had centred – Ramsdale was beaten – the pressure lifted.
And shortly after half an hour, West Ham added another one. Noble was felled clumsily by Harry Wilson – the skipper dusting himself down before sending Ramsdale the wrong way from the resulting spot-kick. The London Stadium faithful could barely believe it!
As the half drew to its conclusion, Lukasz Fabianski – having spent much of the half a mere spectator – was forced to palm out Diego Rico’s stinging effort as Bournemouth – shellshocked – finally offered a threat of their own.
Unimpressed by his sides first-half showing, Cherries boss, Eddie Howe, threw on Ryan Fraser and former Hammer, Junior Stanislas, in a bid to alter to the complexity of the contest. But it was the home side who continued to look the more fluent – Felipe Anderson had shown persistence, with little luck. But with his own final act of the match, he raced clear before neatly dispatching under Ramsdale for the Hammers fourth of the evening.
Everything was going West Ham’s way. Even a red card – brandished to Aaron Cresswell following a meaty challenge on Ryan Fraser – was downgraded to a booking following a VAR check – while Dominic Solanki could scarcely believe his luck when his headed attempt came back off an upright and landed in the grateful Fabianski’s gloves.
Ramsdale denied substitute, Manuel Lanzini, a fifth – flying to his right to keep out the Argentine’s goalbound header, and saved from Fornals as West Ham refused to let up.
Certainly, Bournemouth will point to a mounting injury list. However, this was West Ham’s biggest Premier League victory of the season, and indeed, their biggest top-flight home win since moving to the London Stadium in 2016.
West Ham United now turn their attention to the Emirates FA Cup, facing Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium on Sunday, January 5 (4pm).
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Angelo Ogbonna, Fabian Balbuena, Ryan Creswell, Declan Rice, Robert Snodgrass (Arthur Masuaku 82’), Mark Noble (Capt), Pablo Fornals, Felipe Anderson (Manuel Lanzini 67’), Sebastien Haller Subs not used: Pablo Zabaleta, Roberto (GK), Carlos Sánchez, Issa Diop, Albian Ajeti
Booked: Aaron Cresswell (foul)
Goals: Mark Noble 18’, 34’ (penalty), Sebastien Haller 25’, Felipe Anderson 66’
AFC Bournemouth: Aaron Ramsdale, Simon Francis (Capt), Steve Cook, Dan Gosling (Jack Simpson 68’), Jefferson Lerma, Dominic Solanke, Callum Wilson, Lewis Cook, Deigo Rico (Junior Stanislas 46’), Harry Wilson (Ryan Fraser 46’), Chris Mepham Subs not used: Artur Boruc (GK), Andrew Surman, Phillip Billing, Alex Dobre
Referee: Graham Scott
Assistants: Neil Davies and Mark Scholes
Fourth Official: Tim Robinson
Booked: Deigo Rico (foul), Lewis Cook (foul)
Reaction to follow…