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West Ham United 1-1 Sheffield United
WEST HAM UNITED’S winless Premier League sequence extended to four matches as Sheffield United claimed a deserved draw from an otherwise frustrating encounter at the London Stadium.
In a bid to freshen things up, Manuel Pellegrini made five changes to the side which had slumped to defeat at Everton with Pablo Zabaleta, Fabian Balbuena, Andriy Yarmolenko, Robert Snodgrass and Aaron Cresswell all getting the nod as the Chilean looked to get his charges back on track.
Pellegrini recognised that making the most of their home advantage was critical – already Manchester City and Crystal Palace had taken all three points from the London Stadium, a trait the Hammers chief was keen to extinguish.
“It is important to recover the points we have lost,” the former Manchester City boss explained.
“If you want to have a successful you must be a strong team at home. We have lost two games already at home, that is too much.”
Indeed, the Hammers need to show more resolve that they offered on Merseyside. Visitors, newly-promoted Sheffield United, had already provided evidence that they were more than capable in the top flight – most recently by dispatching Arsenal with a typical ‘in yer face’ performance, thanks to a Lys Mousset goal at Bramall Lane.
Extra spice was expected – after all, this was the first league meeting between the sides since the Hammers – controversially bolstered by Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano – had avoided relegation at the Blades expense.
Felipe Anderson offered the first genuine threat in an opening period short on quality and goalmouth action. The Brazilian tip-toeing in from the left before fizzing over from 25-yards. The Blades responded – Roberto producing a superb save as David McGoldrick looked to profit after Jack O’Connell had flicked on.
The Yorkshire side was certainly the busier. Ollie Robinson got his bearings all wrong, nodding away from a gaping goal after Roberto found himself in no man’s land following John Lundstam’s centre. And the miss ultimately proved costly. Snodgrass profited from Yarmolenko’s pass – racing clear before beating Dean Henderson right on the stroke of the interval.
The half-time cuppa livened up proceedings further. Sebastien Haller and Yarmolenko dallied after Anderson had seized on a defensive error from Chris Basham. Meanwhile, a combination of Roberto and Cresswell kept out George Baldock, who had found an abundance of room amidst the east Londoner’s box. Then, Blades stopper Henderson used his feet to good effect after Anderson and Yarmolenko had combined to fashion a decent opening.
But Sheffield’s persistence was to pay off. Mousset – who had only been on the field a matter of seconds – repeated his antics against the Gunners – this time providing a tidy angled finish after West Ham had made a hash of clearing their lines.
Snodgrass stretched to reach Pablo Fornals’ low cross but could only direct against the outside of an upright from an acute angle as tension amongst the home crowd began to grow.
Yarmolenko’s stoppage-time strike drifted wide as West Ham continued to toil without dividends. It’s not clear to see how Pellegrini’s men have lost their spark so soon after discovering it. Nevertheless, as more home points slipped away, the Hammers chief was left with booing ringing in his ears and the conundrum as to discovering a plan ‘B’ as his side begin to flounder towards midtable.
West Ham United return to Premier League action on Saturday, November 2 when Newcastle United are the visitors to the London Stadium (3pm).
West Ham United: Roberto, Aaron Cresswell, Fabian Balbuena, Pablo Zabaleta, Andriy Yarmolenko, Felipe Anderson (Manuel Lanzini 66’), Robert Snodgrass (Albian Ajeti 86’), Mark Noble (Capt) (Pablo Fornals 78’), Sebastien Haller, Issa Diop, Declan Rice Subs not used: David Martin (GK), Carlos Sanchez, Angelo Ogbonna, Ryan Fredericks
Booked: Fabian Balbuena (foul), Issa Diop (foul)
Goals: Robert Snodgrass 45’
Sheffield United: Dean Henderson, George Baldock, Enda Stevens, John Fleck, Jack O’Connell, Chris Basham, John Lundstram, Callum Robinson (Billy Sharpe 54’), John Egan, Ollie Norwood (Lys Mousset 64’), David McGoldrick (Mo Besic 81’) Subs not used: Simon Moore (GK), Luke Freeman, Oli McBurnie, Phil Jagielka
Booked: George Baldock (foul), Enda Stevens (foul)
Goals: Lys Mousset 70’
Referee: David Coote
Assistants: Daniel Cook and Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth Official: Darren Bond
Reaction to follow….