If there is one EPL team that can be described as the big bad boys of the Premier League this season, then it’s certainly West Ham. Sam Allardyce has brought together a strong group of players not the least of whom would be their main signing of the season – Andy Carroll.
Manchester United had to bear the brunt of West Ham’s ‘rough-house’ tactics as they could only manage a close 2-2 draw at West Ham’s Boleyn Ground. West Ham again relied on their dependable forward duo of Nolan and Carroll, as their game was virtually based on their success rate with winning the second balls.
West Ham United starting lineup (4-1-4-1):
Jussi Jaaskelainen; Guy Demel, James Collins, Winston Reid, Joey O’Brien; Gary O’Neil; Matt Jarvis, Kevin Nolan, Mohamed Diamé, Ricardo Vaz Te; Andy Carroll.
Manchester United starting lineup (4-2-3-1):
HAMMERS’ PERIODIC FLURRIES OF ATTACK
The moment the match began, West Ham took initiative and pressed and harried the United players right into their half. Their main aim was to put the ball into the box and look to win the second balls as the first ball was more often than not won by either Carroll or Nolan. As much as United tried to clear the ball, there was always the looming presence of either Diame or Jarvis. Both of them are technically good players who can always create that extra bit of space to power in a cross from outside the box. It was not until the point when United began playing passes to clear the ball that West Ham cease their pressure. Even after that, there were moments of intense pressure from West Ham. They were rewarded with a goal using this very tactic with Carroll again winning a header to allow his fellow team-mate to nod the ball in for West Ham’s 1st goal.
ROONEY TAKES HIS FOOT OFF THE GAS
Wayne Rooney is not the most gifted technically but he is still a top class player, because whatever deficiencies he may have are supplemented by the industrious side of his game. This was definitely not the case in this match as Rooney was oddly slower and more restricted in his movement. Even his distribution and control in the opposition half was severely lacking, and if not for Carrick, they could have been over-run in the midfield by a team like West Ham!
RISE AND SHINE KAGAWA
Ferguson has already stated that Shinji Kagawa would have a much better second season at Old Trafford, but his display against West Ham, though still not at his best, was easily a big positive for United to take home. His intelligence on and off the ball was easy to see as he was always there in the hole and linked up plays from various angles. His assist for Valencia was a thing of beauty as he danced away from a West Ham defender in the box with a dummy and served the ball to Valencia for a simple tap-in. Valencia’s goal sure gave him a good boost of confidence as he was much better after that compared to the dull Valencia that we have been witnessing of late.
Within ten minutes of the break, West Ham had a second. Mohammed Diame bent it round two or three players and past an unsighted De Gea. It was a really clever finish and the Red Devils once again had to up it.
With Rooney subbed off much to his chagrin, Kagawa got the free No. 10 role. He proved to be the catalyst for United’s comeback goal as he took the sort of first touch just on the edge of the box that was dare I say, Messi-esque. He wriggled and turned with the first touch and created that extra bit of space to curl the ball into the top left corner. Unfortunately for him, the ball rebounded off both the posts. Fortunately for Van Perise, he was at the right position to push home the ball and get his second goal in as many matches.
WEST HAM’s MAN OF THE MATCH: ANDY CARROLL
He is the butt of many jokes and criticisms but his performance in this match showcased the best of his abilities – abilities that Liverpool could never capitalise on. He was perfect in winning the first balls and that proved to be of vital importance for his team. His tenacity and work rate were top class, as was his determination to go forward. Such was his industry, that when Hernandez was about to tap in a good low cross by Giggs, Carroll was there to make that crucial interception which could be counted as vital as a goal.Published 18 Apr 2013, 11:05 IST