West Ham hold on for point with 10-men at Villa
PUBLISHED: 22:20 16 September 2019 | UPDATED: 22:20 16 September 2019
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Hammers defender Arthur Masuaku given soft second yellow cards as West Ham miss a chance to go third
Aston Villa 0 West Ham 0
The Hammers extended their unbeaten Premier League run to four matches with this goalless draw at Villa Park, where victory would have taken them into third place.
But their hopes of making that barnstorming run up the table evaporated after they were forced to play the final quarter of the match with 10 men after Arthur Masuaku was harshly dismissed for a second bookable offence.
And indeed many observers would claim that it was Villa, who should have been reduced in numbers following an incredible first-half clash between Tyrone Mings and Anwar El Ghazi that referee Mike Dean allowed to go unpunished.
Victory over Norwich City before the international break had meant that an unchanged West Ham United team kicked off in ninth-spot, nine places and four points above Villa.
And although the home supporters in the crowd of 42,010 roared with delight at their side's electrifying early start, it was the Hammers who looked most threatening in those early exchanges as Andriy Yarmolenko forced an early corner following a rampaging Ryan Fredericks run and then Mark Noble saw his low 20-yarder saved by Tom Heaton.
Villa who lost at Crystal Palace last time out, had made two changes as Marvelous Nakamba and El Ghazi came in for the suspended Trézéguet plus substitute Douglas Luiz and, on the quarter-hour mark, the Premier League new boys should have taken the lead, when the fleet-footed Jack Grealish danced down the right-flank before sending an inch-perfect cross into the six-yard box, where Wesley somehow sent his bullet header flying over the bar.
Shortly afterwards, the Villa striker bulldozed his way into the area, but this time Angelo Ogbonna stood firm against the hosts' record £22 million summer signing from Club Brugge, while at the other end, the Hammers most-expensive capture, Sebastién Haller nodded just inches wide after Felipe Anderson had cleverly picked out the Frenchman.
With the match ebbing and flowing from end-to-end, Masuaku was cautioned for a crunching challenge on Frederic Guilbert and then Grealish also saw yellow for a scissor challenge on Anderson, before Noble became the third booking of the evening for committing one foul too many in the eyes of referee Dean.
John McGinn tested Łukasz Fabiański with a 25-yarder that flew through the cooling mid-September evening but temperatures were rising on the pitch and, in the most controversial moment of the opening 45 minutes, an angry Mings clashed head-to-head with team-mate El Ghazi after Noble had forced a corner off the Villa defender.
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Referee Dean let both Villains off with a lecture and there was another escape for the home side, when Anderson's close-range shot was blocked, while El Ghazi then took another blow to the head as Fabiański flew into the dark, Midlands night to forcibly punch clear as the Villa wide-boy attempted to get on to the end of hanging cross into the danger-zone.
Just after the restart, Villa - now kicking into the Holte End - saw Grealish flash an angled effort across goal before McGinn sent a low 18-yarder just inches wide of the base of Fabiański's left-hand upright.
After onlooking England manager Gareth Southgate saw Declan Rice's 20-yarder charged down by Grealish, the Hammers keeper then got down well to clutch El Ghazi's low effort at the second attempt before Pablo Fornals replaced Yarmolenko on the hour-mark and Ahmed El Mohamady came on for Jota.
The Villa substitute had only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds, when he received a rude welcome from Masuaku, who collected his second yellow card of the evening for fouling the newly-arrived Egyptian on the halfway line and that meant that the lively Anderson had to be sacrificed in favour of Pablo Zabaleta.
Fornals had two efforts blocked as depleted West Ham - the lure of that third place still beckoning - pressed forward at every opportunity and the breaking Spaniard also picked out Noble, whose late effort was blocked, while Grealish could have settled it in the closing moments but he scuffed wide from close-range to leave both teams settling for a point.
HAMMERS: Fabiański, Fredericks, Masuaku, Diop, Ogbonna, Rice, Noble (Balbuena 90), Yarmolenko (Fornals 61), Anderson (Zabaleta 69), Lanzini, Haller. Unused subs: Roberto, Snodgrass, Wilshere, Ajeti.
VILLA: Heaton, Guilbert (Davis 85), Taylor, Mings, Engels, Nakamba (Luiz 81), McGinn, Grealish, Jota (El Mohamady 65), El Ghazi, Wesley. Unused subs: Steer, Lansbury, Hourihane, Ngoyo,
Booked: Masuaku (23), Grealish (27), Noble (28), Mings (77).
Sent-Off: Masuaku (67)
Referee: Mike Dean.