West Ham in stalemate at the Hawthorns
PUBLISHED: 17:07 16 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:07 16 September 2017
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers hit the crossbar but could not find the breakthrough against West Brom
West Brom 0 West Ham United 0
The Hammers battled their way to another point with this grey, goalless draw in the murky Midlands, where neither side created enough to merit victory.
Although Pedro Obiang hit the bar with a spectacular long-ranger before the interval and Javier Hernández was cynically clattered by Ben Foster as he tried to round the keeper after the break, goal chances were scarce in a match lacking enterprise, excitement and entertainment.
Monday evening’s welcome win over Huddersfield Town had finally given the Hammers their first points of the season and, following his side’s terrier-like victory over the Terriers, Slaven Bilić named an unchanged side.
That meant a 100th Premier League appearance in the Claret and Blue for Andy Carroll, who almost marked that milestone as early as the seventh minute but as he shaped to pull the trigger, the centurion was thwarted by Jonny Evans’ brave lunge.
The Baggies had lost their first game of the season at Brighton last week and, after that 3-1 defeat in the battle of the Albions, ton-up Tony Pulis made a trio of changes for his 100th game in the Hawthorns hot-seat.
Kieran Gibbs, James Morrison and Chris Brunt came in for Jake Livermore plus substitutes Allan Nyom and Salomon Rondón, while the ageless Gareth Barry made a record-breaking 600th Premier League start as he joined Ryan Giggs’ at the top of the all-time appearance charts on 632 matches.
And after the recalled Brunt had forced Joe Hart into a comfortable early save, Gibbs then saw his goal-bound 12-yarder deflected behind for a corner that Barry headed onto the roof of the net to the disappointment of the home fans.
Pablo Zabaleta had also added to their frustration, when he pulled back the galloping Grzegorz Krychowiak at the expense of his fourth yellow card in five Hammers starts and, with both sides sloppily struggling to keep the ball on the pitch, Bilić’s dismay was compounded by the sight of Aaron Cresswell failing to bring any quality to the delivery of the three set-pieces that had come West Ham’s way.
On 25 minutes, Michail Antonio accelerated across the rain-soaked turf before forcing Ben Foster into his first save of the afternoon and, shortly afterwards, Obiang collected the ball on the edge of the centre-circle before trying an audacious 40-yarder that beat the stranded Baggies’ keeper on its way to unluckily crashing off the crossbar.
That Spanish surprise was more befitting of Camp Nou or the Bernabau and, as the midfielder stared high into Hawthorns heavens, the airborne Carroll quickly reminded everyone that this game was being played out in the bleak Black Country as he took out an agitated Ahmed Hegazi in his quest to force a corner, while Morrison wastefully glanced wide from close range and Matt Phillips also fired behind to keep it predictably goalless at the break.
Just after the restart, Cresswell finally found some precision with a deep, early second-half corner that José Fonte headed wide but that was a mere fleeting flash of danger.
With the hour-mark approaching, James Collins hobbled away after pulling up on the half-way line and as Marko Arnautović – returning from suspension – stepped from the bench, Bilić reverted to a flat back-four, while Hernández pushed further forward to join Carroll at the heart of the Hammers attack.
Midway through the half, those two combined to dramatic effect, when Carroll nodded on for his pint-sized strike-partner but, 20 yards from goal, the on-rushing Foster wiped out the Mexican at the expense of a mere yellow card as everyone claret and blue demanded red.
That proved to be Chicharito’s last chance of the afternoon for he was soon replaced by André Ayew, while Albion introduced Hal Robson-Kanu and James McClean in place of Phillips and Brunt and Diafra Sakho switched with Carroll but, by now, this dour, disappointing duel was only ever going to end blank.
BAGGIES: Foster, Hegazi, Gibbs (Nyom 84), Dawson, Evans, Barry, Phillips (McClean 76), Morrison, Brunt (Robson-Kanu 72), Krychowiak, Rodriguez. Unused subs: Myhill, Yacob, Rondón, McAuley.
HAMMERS: Hart, Zabaleta, Cresswell, Fonte, Reid, Collins (Arnautović 58), Obiang, Kouyaté, Antonio, Hernández (Ayew 76), Carroll (Sakho 81). Unused subs: Adrián, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Rice.
Booked: Zabaleta (8), Foster (65), McClean (83), Antonio (90+2).
Referee: Paul Tierney
Attendance: 24,942 (2,671 West Ham fans).