In Tony Pulis’ 100th game in charge of West Brom and Gareth Barry’s record-equalling 632nd Premier League appearance, both sides were looking for a win, albeit for completely different reasons. A win for the Baggies would propel them back up towards the top of the Premier League table and West Ham were looking to build on their first win of the season following monday’s 2-0 victory over Huddersfield.
The first half: LACKLUSTRE display from both sides
It took all of 18 seconds for West Brom to force their first corner of the game as summer signing Jay Rodriguez battled with Andy Carroll and the big no.9 was unfortunate to have the ball bounce off him last to see the ball trickle out for a Baggies corner, yet nothing came of the early chance.
Within the first 10 minutes, Pablo Zabaleta had picked up his 4th yellow card of the season already. After the right-back bursted forward and won a corner for the Hammers, the delivery came to nothing and West Brom’s Grzegorz Krychowiak aimed to launch a counter attack but was consequently brought down by Zabaleta, earning the first booking of the game.
The first real chance of the game came to West Brom in the 12th minute. Chris Brunt bamboozled monday’s goalscorer Pedro Obiang, sending the midfielder to the ground. Brunt then pushed forward and his dangerous ball into the box was cleared by Winston Reid only as far as Kieran Gibbs who’s shot was also heroically stopped by Winston Reid and out for a corner once more.
Both teams looked comfortable in possession and as the game began to settle, so did the rain at the Hawthorns. The game soon came to life nevertheless as Michail Antonio proved his nickname of ‘The Beast’ wasn’t to be taken lightly as the athletic winger charged the length of the pitch finding himself all the way in the Baggies box. Ahmed Hagazi was the man who attempted to win the ball from the no.30 but Antonio being too strong, found a turn but could only produce a weak shot straight at Ben Foster for West Ham’s first shot of the match.
As the West Ham fans were chanting Antonio’s name, 25,000 fans were almost witness to one of the potential goals of the season from Pedro Obiang. 28 minutes in, the Spaniard looked up from 40 yards out to see Ben Foster off his line and produced an audacious shot that cannoned of the bar. Ben Foster was most certainly a relieved man.
The game yet again endured a quite period until the 39th minute when Matt Phillips beat the slow Jose Fonte with ease and delivered in a good ball onto the head of James Morrison, who could only direct it out for a West Ham throw-in but it was more encouraging for the baggies.
After another strong showing thus far from the West Ham defence, tough centre-back James Collins went down under no challenge, clutching his ankle. After the game was temporarily stopped as the West Ham staff assessed the Welshman, play was soon back underway and Collins hobbled back out onto the field.
0-0 was the first half scoreline, which proved an arguably deserved scoreline as both teams had failed to assert true authority on the game so far. The wait continues for West Brom to have a shot on target as Joe Hart encounters another quite game like monday’s win against Huddersfield.
the second half: West Brom play for the draw
As the second half kicked-off, every fan was hoping for an improvement on that first 45…
Just minutes in and West Ham were on the attack with Aaron Cresswell who put an inviting ball into the box looking for the dangerous Andy Carroll, but the ball didn’t reach the no.9 and was cleared away from danger.
Summer signing Javier Hernandez found himself moving deeper and deeper into his own half as the game progressed, anything in hope to get himself more involved in the game. It seems just about everyone apart from Slaven Bilic knows the poacher is a striker and shouldn’t be played on the wing.
57 minutes in and James Collins was forced down once again through a reoccurrence of his first-half injury. The big centre-back is a no-nonsense defender but was unable to continue, reemerging later to watch the remainder of the game on crutches. As the defender was leaving the field, the home crowd weren’t happy with Collins having been down twice in the first half as well, and booed the Welshman off the pitch until he was replaced by Marko Arnautovic who was back after his suspension.
Slaven Bilic decided to stick with the 3 at the back and moved Pablo Zabaleta to centre-back, allowing Michail Antonio to drop into right wing-back and Marko Arnautovic to take the no.30’s attacking position.
It was substitute Marko Arnautovic who was again in the centre of controversy as he went down under tackle from Craig Dawson but no foul was given, even though the no.7 stayed down. West Brom continued to play, much to the disgust of Slaven Bilic, who took his anger out on Tony Pulis in a foul-mouthed exchange between the two managers.
Just after the hour mark, a big decision was thrown at referee Paul Tierney when Andy Carroll nodded on a ball towards Javier Hernandez as the little Mexican was bearing down on goal. Chicharito took the ball away from goal and was taken down by baggies keeper Ben Foster, which was judged a yellow card, not a sending off offence. West Brom had players back covering ensuring Foster wasn’t the last man because that certainly would have been a different outcome for the Englishman. A free kick was also awarded after the foul but Marko Arnautovic couldn’t provide any magic from the set-piece.
As the miserable game continued for both teams, both managers looked to their benches to inspire a victory. West Brom brought on Hal Robson-Kanu and James McClean in quick succession of each other and Slaven Bilic took off the ineffective Chicharito for Andre Ayew, the same substitution that changed monday nights win against Huddersfield.
With the clock ticking down even further, more changes were made from both sides which certainly showed the intent of each team. The home side West Brom brought on Allan Nyom for home debutant Kieran Gibbs and West Ham took off Andy Carroll for Diafra Sakho, hoping to steal the points late on.
Both sides had late chances with West Ham first creating danger, with Marko Arnautovic aiming to find fellow substitute Diafra Sakho with a cross but it cleared in time by Ahmed Hegazi.
In the 88th minute, and up the other end, Hal Robson-Kanu had a tame header saved by Joe Hart in net for West Brom’s first shot on target all game long… which rather tells the story of the bore draw.
After 5 long additional minutes were played the game finished at 0-0. Neither side created enough with only 1 shot on target for each of the teams. West Ham will be happy to bag another clean sheet and will take many positives going into their mid-week cup match against Bolton Wanderers.
Main talking point: Was foster lucky to stay on the pitch?
The big and one of the only decisions for the referee on the day was whether Ben Foster deserved a sending-off after taking out Javier Hernandez. In reflection the referee has made the right call as Chicharito is taking the ball away from goal, which allowed West Brom to get players behind the rushing Foster to cover the goalkeeper. If Foster was the last man, he would have had to walk but luckily for him his team helped him out and nothing can from the resulting free-kick.
Possession: West Brom 37% West Ham 63%
Shots: West Brom 6 West Ham 9
Shots on target: West Brom 1 West Ham 1
Corners: West Brom 2 West Ham 3
Fouls: West Brom 15 West Ham 7
West Brom line-up: (4-2-3-1) Foster 6, Dawson 6, Hejazi 7, Evans 7, Gibbs 6 (Nyom N/A) , Barry 6, Krychowiak 6, Phillips 6 (McClean 5) , Morrison 6, Brunt 6 (Robson-Kanu 5), Rodriguez 6
West Ham line-up: (3-4-2-1) Hart 6, Fonte 7, Reid 7, Collins 6 (Arnautovic 6 ), Cresswell 6, Zabaleta 6, Kouyate 5, Obiang 6, Antonio 7, Hernandez 5 (Ayew 5) , Carroll 6 (Sakho N/A)