Manuel Lanzini

McBurnie sees Sheffield United past West Ham

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At their best, West Ham United have produced quality play this season. At their worst, the Hammers have been punished. It was nearly the former, but the latter prevailed at Bramall Lane on Friday as lynchpin Lukasz Fabianski was lost to injury early in the match and his replacement’s error saw Oli McBurnie lead Sheffield United to a 1-0 victory.

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In off the bench, Robert Snodgrass seemed to have a late equalizer in stoppage time, but it was ruled out by VAR thanks to a handball on Declan Rice, reigniting debate about the new handball rules involving attacking players.

The win for Sheffield United sees the Blades move above Manchester United, Tottenham, and Wolves into fifth, while West Ham still remains in 16th, just two points above the relegation zone.


Three things we learned

1. Sheffield United is back to business

Not that they had anything to prove, but Sheffield United continues to produce scalp after scalp. After a short three-match winless run that began to produce doubt over their ability to maintain the cutting edge they showed throughout the first half of the season, the Blades got back to winning ways. They dominated the midfield for much of the game, and looked dangerous in the final third.

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The Blades nearly came to rue some wastefulness on the near-goal by Snodgrass, but in the end they survived. Chris Wilder has been nothing but a pleasant surprise in the Premier League this season.

2. West Ham is doomed without Fabianski

It only took 38 minutes for West Ham to miss Lukasz Fabianski as David Martin‘s mistake gifted Sheffield United the game’s only goal. Fabianski has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League the last two seasons, but this hip injury has kept him off the field in chunks. The Hammers have 15 points in nine games with Fabianski on the field, and just five points in 12 matches (including today, where he played just 15 minutes) without the Polish international. Sitting just two points above the drop, West Ham must improve between the sticks to survive.

3. David Moyes can’t afford to bench Robert Snodgrass

Robert Snodgrass appears back to his best, and David Moyes can’t afford to keep him on the bench. After a dry spell through November and half of December, the Scottish international appears back to his best, and West Ham will rue not having him on the field the entire match. Snodgrass was electric off the bench, and while Manuel Lanzini was creative at times, Snodgrass was consistently the team’s best attacking option down the stretch as they poured on the pressure.


Sheffield United was the better side for the first 15 minutes, and worked a great opportunity from a corner that saw John Egan head just over the bar. As the first half went on, West Ham built its counter-attack and worked a chance for Felipe Anderson who got by the Blades defense but scuffed wide left past a charging Dean Henderson.

One of the more influential moments in the match came 15 minutes in as West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski went down with a hip injury occurring on a goal kick, looking to be a recurrence of an injury he sustained earlier in the season. West Ham has been awful this season without Fabianski, and that proved important after the break.

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The loss of Fabianski proving tragic for the Hammers after the break. Sheffield United went in front on 53 minutes as Fleck snatched away a bad David Martin goal-kick and fed Oli McBurnie for the opening strike. The goal came on the game’s first shot on target.

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Snodgrass was influential off the bench, and Sebastian Haller failed on a pair second-half chances to equalize – putting one of those in the back of the net but the offside flag scuttled the chance. Snodgrass appeared to have the decisive moment in stoppage time, with the ball in the back of the net, but VAR intervened. Declan Rice fed Snodgrass on the break in the 92nd minute, and while his shot was slowed by Henderson, it wasn’t stopped, trickling over the line. On replay, however, a clear handball off the arm of Rice saw the goal ruled out. While the decision was extremely harsh as Rice had no way of avoiding the unintentional touch off the head of a defender, the decision was consistent with the rules that prevent attacking players from handling the ball in the buildup to a goal not matter the circumstances.

Much-changed Leicester City wins at West Ham

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Ayoze Perez set up a pair of goals as Leicester City rebounded for a 2-1 defeat of West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday.

Kelechi Iheanacho and Demarai Gray supplied the goals for the Foxes, who move four points clear of third place Man City.

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Pablo Fornals scored for West Ham and under fire manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose side sits just one point ahead of 18th place Aston Villa.


Three things we learned

1. Rodgers rewarded for risky rotation: Brendan Rodgers changed nine men from the group embarrassed by Liverpool on Boxing Day, and the makeshift XI very much deserved the three points. Demarai Gray missed a penalty kick and a few other chances were left for dead, but overall the Foxes had every claim to the win.

2. Hammers a real relegation threat: Manuel Pellegrini’s defense has been woeful, and his star attackers couldn’t bail them out Felipe Anderson did assist on Fornals’ goal, and was lively on the left wing, but Sebastien Haller has not been able to sharpen his attacking acumen since an early season hot streak and neither Manuel Lanzini nor a trio of substitutes combined to deliver much threat.

3. Ayoze the assister takes the reins: Longtime Newcastle star Ayoze Perez is a mere component of the King Power Stadium attack. He drove the attacking bus on Saturday in the absence of Jamie Vardy and James Maddison, the latter replacing him in the 64th minute after assists on both goals. He was two for two on dribbles and drew three fouls in a very strong performance.

Man of the Match: Perez.


Lukasz Fabianski gave away a terrible penalty to Kelechi Iheanacho, but then made a save on Demarai Gray’s poor penalty to keep it 0-0.

Iheanacho put Leicester in front when Ayoze Perez made an athletic play to keep a ball in bounds for a near-post headed goal.

Gray then tore into a shot from 12 yards that was nowhere near the mark.

West Ham had a nice chance bound wide when Sebastien Haller’s header was off frame, and the equalizer came moments later through Fornals.

The Spaniard arrived on the scene for a Felipe Anderson cutback to cue the bubbles.

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Gray made it 2-1 in the 56th minute, running onto a Perez through ball and curling around Fabianski.

Wes Morgan came close to making it 3-1 with a quick turn off a post-corner kick scrum, and Hamza Choudhury missed an 86th minute bid.

Ayew wondergoal completes Palace comeback v. West Ham

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Jordan Ayew‘s solo wondergoal won all three points for Crystal Palace in a 2-1 defeat of West Ham United at Selhurst Park on Thursday.

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Robert Snodgrass had put the Irons in front, but former West Ham man Cheikhou Kouyate equalized as all the goals came after halftime.

Palace moves 11th with 24 points, while West Ham slips 17th with 19 points.


Three things we learned

1. Ayew delivers a beautiful winner: The Palace forward joined Wilfried Zaha in being a proper threat, but his winner was all about him. The 28-year-old Ghanian cut toward the 18 and moved free with a spinning turn before using a delightful chip to leave Roberto pawing at air.

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2. Pellegrini’s inconsistent Irons put him at risk: Michail Antonio was strong and Sebastien Haller had moments atop the attack, but the Irons attack only managed a pair of shots on target. Felipe Anderson and Manuel Lanzini came off the bench to decent effect, but certainly are nowhere near their top form. Irons boss Manuel Pellegrini must be at wits’ end.

3. Quality, not industry, denies West Ham: The Irons won more challenges — 28-14 in the air — and had more tackles, interceptions, and clearances. Some of those are down to Palace’s time with the ball, but it’s worth noting that for as poor as the Irons have been, they have not quit on Pellegrini.

Man of the Match: Ayew was phenomenal. He was everywhere, involved in 22 duels while completing 8 of 9 dribbles and making three key passes. The goal was the moment, of course, but it was the richly-deserved reward for a day worth of work.


[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Wilfried Zaha’s marvelous dribble down the left was deserving of an opening assist, but Palace’s right side didn’t run through the six to meet his pass.

Max Meyer found the loose ball and slid an invitation back through the box, but Jordan Ayew’s sliding effort went wide of the goal.

Ayew bossed Cresswell into a turnover but couldn’t rip a shot past Roberto.

The Irons went in front when Antonio created space and slipped through Snodgrass, who had the better of Patrick Van Aanholt and swerved home.

Van Aanholt nearly made amends but dragged his effort wide of the far post.

Kouyate equalized against his former club and declined celebration as the Selhurst Park faithful did plenty in his stead. Ayew popped a James McArthur cross onto the path of Kouyate for an unmarked finish.

Roberto denied Connor Wickham on a long solo run toward goal, a heavy touch defying the sub a wonderful moment.

Jaro Riedewald slid to deny Snodgrass’ 87th minute bid for a winner.

Ayew won it late with a classy maneuver into the 18 to dink over a fooled Roberto.

Premier League Preview: Southampton v. West Ham

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Saturday’s final Premier League fixture is set to pit a pair of underperforming relegation battlers against one another when Southampton host West Ham United at St. Mary’s Stadium (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBCSports.com). Managers Ralph Hasenhuttl and Manuel Pellegrini have each flirted with being fired in recent weeks, though the former was able to pull himself back from the edge with back-to-back wins last week.

Southampton had lost six of eight games during a two-month winless skid before beating Watford and Norwich City, both at home, to not only save the Austrain’s job but also pull his side to within touching distance of safety from the relegation zone.

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As for West Ham, Pellegrini is hanging on by a thread as he faces the possibility of being the next PL manager fired on the back of a 1W-2D-7L record in the Hammers’ last 10 games. To call that run of results — comprising more than 25 percent of the season — relegation form would be an understatement.

It’s not just the results which have been disastrous, but more so the margin by which they’ve suffered them. In those 10 games, West Ham have managed to conceded fewer than two goals only twice, including just one clean sheet. A number of bottom-half sides have found lots of joy against them: Newcastle United, Burnley, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal each scored three; Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers each score two.

Injuries/suspensions

Southampton: QUESTIONABLE – Stuart Armstrong (hamstring)

West Ham United: OUT – Manuel Lanzini (clavicle), Jack Wilshere (groin), Lukasz Fabianski (thigh), Winston Reid (knee)


Projected lineups

Southampton: Gunn — Soares, Vestergaard, Yoshida, Bertrand — Djenepo, Ward-Prowse, Hojberg, Redmond — Long, Ings

West Ham: Martin — Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell — Snodgrass, Noble, Rice, Anderson — Haller, Antonio


What they’re saying

Hasenhuttl, on his place as Saints boss: “This experience has been very important for me as a manager and I’m happy that I went through such a period. I’m thankful to the club that it is going a different way, not immediately sacking the manager but supporting him. Thank you to everyone at the club, I could feel big support in this moment, which is important for the future of the club. That was very important for me as a manager, I’ve never had such a long time without winning in my managerial career.”

Pellegrini, on his place as West Ham boss: “What I really need is to win the game but maybe I’m not in my job on Monday. That’s not a problem of the job. The problem is to try to improve what you’re doing because we don’t have the results. It’s a difficult league where the difference is very little between one player and the other one. I repeat it’s not normal to have five points and very bad results. That’s why I know that the owners trust what we are doing because with another owner you may have been sacked before, and we know what football is and we are trying to get results.”


Prediction

Given their medium-term form and the fact they’re playing at home, Southampton should be winning this game. If they’ve done one thing right all season, it’s that they’ve beaten the rest of the sides down near the relegation zone when they’ve faced them head to head. Whether or not West Ham will remain down there remains to be seen, and could be revealed based on what happens Saturday. Saints 2-2 West Ham.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. West Ham

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  • Chelsea sit in 4th place, two points back of Man City
  • West Ham sit in 17th place, three points above the relegation zone
  • The Hammers have lost four of their last five matches. Chelsea meanwhile is looking for win seven in its last eight Premier League games.
  • Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 13 home Premier League meetings with West Ham (W9), last losing to the Hammers by a 3-2 scoreline in September 2002.

Chelsea look to keep pace in the top four and get back to winning ways as Frank Lampard‘s side hosts a London derby against struggling West Ham United (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSports.com).

Chelsea dropped a 2-1 scoreline last week to Man City, and then was compounded with a wild 2-2 draw with Valencia in mid-week UEFA Champions League action. Defense has been an issue, as Chelsea has allowed two or more goals in three of its last four matches.

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Saturday’s match could be a big boost of confidence for Lampard’s men though, as West Ham comes to Stamford Bridge. The Hammers are in horrendous form recently under former Man City title-winning coach Manuel Pellegrini. Defensively the team has been all over the place, especially without Winston Reid, though Reid is back in training. However, based on current form, even a Chelsea team without Tammy Abraham, out with injury, should be just fine, with Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic running havoc along the wings.

Injuries/suspensions

Chelsea: OUT – Tammy Abraham (hip)

West Ham: OUT – Issa Diop (suspension), Winston Reid, Lukasz Fabianski, Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere (all injured)


Projected lineups

Chelsea: Kepa – Azpilicueta, Tomori, Zouma, Emerson – Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic – Pulisic, Batshuayi, Willian

West Ham: Roberto – Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell – Felipe Anderson, Rice, Noble, Yarmolenko – Haller


What they’re saying

Frank Lampard on facing a struggling West Ham: “I expect West Ham to bring passion and effort. They are in a difficult place because of their recent run, and sometimes that can bring out the best in players. You look at people in their team like Mark Noble and Declan Rice, players that care for the club, and they want to react to a manager who is a top manager so I am expecting a reaction from them. We know they have individual quality in forward areas so I am taking the game nowhere near lightly. It is a tough match.”

Mark Noble on improving West Ham’s defense: “We have to defend better as a team but that side of the game does seem to have become ‘uncool’,” he observed. “The philosophy of football seems to have changed. Maybe it doesn’t look that great if the ball is near the touchline and you run over and smash it into the crowd so your team can get back into shape. Instead now, you maybe try and step over, pass it back to the ‘keeper who kicks it straight up in the air and results in a 50/50 challenge. The teams who defend best normally do well.”


Prediction

West Ham faces Chelsea at arguably the worst time. For a team in need of a pick-me-up, to have to go to Stamford Bridge and face one of the quickest, most dynamic attacks in the Premier League will leave some West Ham players with serious nerves in the tunnel before taking the field. Chelsea should have no issues, and though it’s a London derby, the hosts should take all three points.

Chelsea 3-1 West Ham