Ten-man Hammers hold firm at the Villa

Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham United

WEST HAM UNITED produced a workmanlike performance, earning a share of the Premier League spoils, despite the second-half dismissal of Arthur Masuaku at Villa Park.

West Ham arrived in the West Midlands unbeaten in three top-flight matches, refreshed following the international break, but facing a Villa side beginning to adapt following their promotion back to English football’s top table. Nevertheless, Hammers skipper, Mark Noble, spoke cautiously ahead of the game: “This international break has been longer than most because we’ve had to wait until tonight’s match at Aston Villa,” he explained

“We’re playing well at the minute and when that happens, you feel like you want the next match to come as quickly as possible. Hopefully, though, we can still maintain the momentum we showed in our most recent match, the 2-0 win over another promoted team, Norwich.”

Despite performing reasonably, Villa had won just once in four league outings, leaving them amongst the early-season strugglers. And they survived an early scare – Andriy Yarmolenko blocked after Ryan Fredericks and Sebastien Haller had fashioned an opening.

Noble fired into Tom Heaton’s midriff as West Ham continued to ask the sterner questions. Meanwhile, Lukasz Fabianski expertly dealt with Jack Grealish’s troublesome dead-ball, then Wesley nodded over from close range as the hosts began to find their feet.

West Ham’s football was certainly easy on the eye. Haller headed the wrong side of an upright following a free-flowing move including Noble, Lanzini, and Anderson, while Declan Rice saw his attempt deflected behind following another sustained spell of possession.

Frustration and tempers amongst the Villa ranks reached boiling point. El Ghazi perhaps lucky VAR took little notice of an aimed headbutt at teammate, Tyrone Mings.

John McGinn had been largely ineffective during the opening stages. However, a powerful drive – warming the palms of Fabianski, coupled with Grealish’s tenacity provided ample evidence that Villa’s threat was very real. The Polish stopper was again called into action, bravely putting his body on the line to punch clear, colliding heavily with Anwar El Ghazi in the process, as the sparky nature of the contest continued ahead of the interval.

Fabianski parried away from Grealish, while McGinn was a whisker away when picking up the pieces – then the keeper did well to stop El Ghazi’s fizzing strike as Villa started the second period aggressively.

West Ham’s task became all the more difficult when Masuaku went in clumsily on Villa substitute, Ahmed El Mohamady – referee, Mike Dean, showing little hesitation in reducing the east Londoners to ten men – perhaps harshly?

The game had become somewhat scruffy – Villa seemingly running out of ideas – West Ham content to have what they held. Grealish contrived to miss a glorious chance to win the game, hooking wide after El Mohamady had picked him out. But the toil – honest as it was – had failed to muster a goal, providing a result which on balance was about right.

West Ham United returns to Premier League action on Sunday, September 22 when Manchester United are the visitors to the London Stadium (2pm).

Aston Villa: Tom Heaton, Neil Taylor, John McGinn, Wesley, Jack Grealish (Capt), Marvelous Nakamba (Douglas Luiz 81’), Anwar El Ghazi, Bjorn Engels, Jota (Ahmed El Mohamady 66’), Frederic Guilbert (Keinan Davis 85’), Tyrone Mings Subs not used: Jed Steer (GK), Henri Lansbury, Conor Hourihane, Ezri Konsa Ngoyo

Booked: Jack Grealish (foul), Tyrone Mings (foul)
Goals: None

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Andriy Yarmolenko (Pablo Fornals 62’), Felipe Anderson (Pablo Zabaleta 69’), Manuel Lanzini, Mark Noble (Capt) (Fabian Balbuena 90+1’), Angelo Ogbonna, Sebastien Haller, Issa Diop, Ryan Fredericks, Arthur Masuaku, Declan Rice Subs not used: Roberto (GK), Robert Snodgrass, Jack Wilshere, Albian Ajeti

Booked: Arthur Masuaku (foul), Mark Noble (foul)
Sent off: Arthur Masuaku (second booking)
Goals: None

Referee: Mike Dean
Assistants: Darren Cann and Dan Robatham
Fourth Official: Andy Madley

Attendance: 42,010

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk