West Ham had 22 shots on goal against Burnley. They failed to score any of them and only hit the target five times. When they did that, they found Nick Pope in inspired form in between the sticks for the visitors who kept up their chase for a European place with a smash and grab 1-0 win against the Hammers.
West Ham spurned chances, Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio the most glaring offenders of all in front of goal but it was a case of what might have been. Much like it was against Newcastle at the weekend.
Only the roles were reversed this time. The Hammers went behind to Jay Rodriguez’s clever header on 38 minutes after the Hammers had dominated the game, going down very much against the run of play.
Jonjo Shelvey had equalised 92 seconds after West Ham took the lead on Sunday. This time, Antonio had the chance to level the game around 60 seconds after Rodriguez had deftly put the Clarets in front.
But Antonio spurned the chance, put through after a poor touch from Clarets midfielder Ashley Westwood, when he bore down on goal he badly fluffed his lines. In the form he’s in, you expected him to bury it. That would have changed the game. Would the Hammers have gone on to win it, who knows.
West Ham’s come from behind win against Chelsea looks like an anomaly more than anything else now after failing to come from behind here. It’s still only four points gained from losing positions all season and three of those came in that victory over Chelsea a week ago.
The fullback problem
West Ham’s two fullbacks for the majority of the season, Aaron Cresswell and Ryan Fredericks, have not performed well and Wednesday night was the nadir for both.
Cresswell was more culpable than most for Rodriguez’s goal. He allowed the striker to get across him despite seeing where he was, but then losing him. Angelo Ogbonna had dealt with the other threat in the middle, Matej Vydra, but Cresswell didn’t move across Rodriguez.
The damage had been done and Cresswell’s attempt to clear with his foot while Rodriguez went with his head summed the situation up.
On the other flank, Fredericks had a poor game. Burnley clearly targeted him early on by putting Dwight McNeill on him and a number of passes in behind caught the Hammers right back out. Charlie Taylor also had the better of the right back, namely when he didn’t close down the Burnley man to cross for Rodriuguez to score.
Going forward, Fredericks is rapid but moves constantly stalled when he was in possession. Rather than try and take on his man, who he’d burn for pace, he would stop and try to pass in field into a crowded part of the pitch or go backwards to his centre midfielders.
Fredericks had lost his place to Jeremy Ngakia and had the teenager not refused to sign a new contract it’s clear he was going to be first choice for the remainder of the season. Cresswell keeps his place through a lack of a viable alternative as Arthur Masuaku struggles defensively.
Ben Johnson, who has yet to appear for the first team since the restart despite being making every matchday squad, is waiting patiently in the wings.
Clean sheet woe
West Ham have failed to keep a clean sheet in 14 Premier League games and football.london asked Moyes about that record after the game, to which he responded: “It’s rubbish, isn’t it?
“We have got some very good defenders who have taken responsibility and shown how much they care. Today, you see how much Burnley cared.
“They’ve [Burnley] kept 13 or 14, we haven’t got one in 14. Keeping cleans sheets gives you a chance of winning the game. If we have to keep conceding goals then it is going to be a problem, we need to become much better defensively and much tougher than we have been.
“Even today, we gave the goal away cheaply but mainly because we didn’t start the game particularly well in the opening 15 or 20 minutes.”
The return of Angelo Ogbonna to the Hammers defence after the restart has failed to stem the tide although, in a very small positive, the Hammers only conceded one at London Stadium on Wednesday. Prior to that, it was at least two in every game since the resumption.
West Ham seemingly need to score two or three goals a game if they are going to win if they keep this pace up. But when they spurn chances like they did on Wednesday, they are going to find that incredibly tough to do in the final four games of the season.
Why should you sign up?
In each football.london West Ham bulletin, we’ll be bringing you the latest breaking news, transfer features and comment pieces, as well as the key talking points for fans.
We’ll also send special newsletters when big stories break or there’s a special event happening.
How do you sign up?
It’s easy and only takes seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article – or any article on the West Ham section of football.london in fact – labelled ‘Get the biggest daily stories by email’ and click ‘Subscribe’.
And that’s it, you’re all set.
If you decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails, simply follow the unsubscribe link in one of the newsletters – but we don’t think you’ll want to.
For more details, click here.
Andriy Yarmolenko didn’t take his chance
The Hammers winger made his first start since last November on Wednesday night but lasted only an hour before Moyes made a change and brought on Sebastien Haller and went 4-4-2.
Yarmolenko’s night started with trying a piece of skill in his own half that didn’t come off, giving the ball away and led to a blocked shot for Burnley and it didn’t get much better. Charlie Taylor did what Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger couldn’t and kept Yarmolenko on his right foot, which is pretty much redundant.
Yarmolenko’s inclusion also badly stifled Jarrod Bowen, who has been West Ham’s most dangerous player since the restart. Yarmolenko can’t play anywhere else other than the right wing, though he did swap with Bowen at the start of the second half but 15 minutes later, he was trudging off the pitch after an ineffective night.
Moyes said it himself after Yarmolenko’s goal against Chelsea that he has Bowen in that position to play, yet he still switched it up last night with the Ukrainian coming into the starting line up. It didn’t work.
In fairness to Moyes, with Felipe Anderson injured there was little alternative to try and switch it up. Arthur Masuaku maybe could have played out there but in reality, that’s it. The lop-sided Manuel Pellegrini squad the Scot inherited has come home to roost.