Relegation worries have started to resurface for a West Ham team that’s lost three in a row, making today’s visit from Hull City even more important. In a match kicking off at 3:45 p.m. ET (available on NBC Sports Live Extra), the Hammers have a chance to ease worries their recent slump hints at a relegation battle. Lose to Steve Bruce’s team, however, and those worries become real, with an upset loss at home confirming suspicions the Irons can be drawn toward the bottom three.
If Hull’s away form is any indication, West Ham’s struggles transcend the Tigers’ 12th place standing. With wins at Sunderland and Cardiff City, Hull has won its last two league games on the road, doubling the win total they took into the Stadium of Light. With only five wins in 15 home games, the Hammers problems at Upton Park converge with a Tigers’ team gaining confidence away from home.
Hull will rely on a striker tandem of Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long, with the two winter window acquisitions still developing their partnership up top. In the middle, however, Hull has been able to lean on the play of Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore – two Spurs imports who have emboldened the Tigers’ relatively worry-free season. Despite lacking a player who has scored more than three goals for them in league, Hull has managed to stay clear to any relegation concerns.
For West Ham, Andy Carroll (pictured) will make his fifth start of the season, with team-leading goal scorer Kevin Nolan looking to continue profiting from a partnership that dates back to the players’ time sat Newcastle. Winger Matthew Jarvis has not recovered from the thigh injury suffered against Manchester United, though James Tomkin’s ankle hasn’t kept the defender from getting the call at the back.
West Ham United: Adrían; Dumel, Collins, Tomkins, McCartney; Noble, Diame; Downing, Nolan, Taylor; Carroll
Subs: Jasskelainen, Armero, Vaz Te, C. Cole, J. Cole, Johnson, Nocerino
José Mourinho may have criticized Sam Allardyce’s “19th century tactics” after West Ham held Chelsea to a goalless draw midweek, but Allardyce played everything perfectly in the match against Swansea. The plan? Plump balls in and let Andy Carroll get on the end of them. Eventually, goals will come.
The result? A vital win for West Ham, their first at Upton Park since November. The Irons temporarily pull themselves above Stoke, who face Manchester United later today, and out of the drop.
It took awhile for West Ham, who attacked straight from the opening whistle, to turn their constant pressure into goals. But in the 26th minute, their strategy paid off perfectly. Carroll knocked down a cross from Matt Taylor, heading it directly into the path of Kevin Nolan. Nolan’s finish was spot on, volleying into the bottom right corner.
Swansea’s best chance of the first half came in the 35th minute. A ball from Jonjo Shelvey sent Wilfried Bony free on goal, but James Tompkins was there, sliding in to stop the Swans striker. It looked as though it might be a penalty for the visitors, but Howard Webb held off. The referee has yet to award a spot kick this season.
The Irons capped off their domination of the first half with a second goal from Nolan. Swansea inexplicably left Carroll alone on the far post, allowing him to once again head into Nolan’s path. From close range, there was no way he could miss grabbing his side’s second.
It was Swansea that needed to look lively after the restart, but it was Carroll that very nearly made it three for the hosts. First his header from Matthew Jarvis’s corner went wide, and the same happened on a corner from Stewart Downing. Still, it looked more likely the Irons would increase their lead, rather than Swansea launching a comeback.
West Ham threw Swansea a lifeline in the 59th minute, when Andy Carroll was handed a straight red card after an altercation with Chico Flores. With the booking looking harsh on the replay, it’s possible the Irons will win an appeal and get the three-match ban reduced for their most valuable player.
For the final thirty minutes, the hosts sat back and soaked up the pressure, a logical move when down a man. More worrying for Michael Laudrup, however, is the fact that his Swansea side could barely threaten, despite being in the driver’s seat for the last half hour. With the loss, suddenly the Swans are just two points clear of the relegation zone.
West Ham United: Adrian, McCartney, Nolan (Nocerino 87), Tomkins, Jarvis (C. Cole 66), Carroll, Taylor (Reid 79), Noble, Collins, Demel, Downing
Goals: Nolan 26′; 45′
Swansea City: Tremmel, Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies, Amat (Pozuelo 63), de Guzmán, Shelvey (Hernández 70), Dyer (Ngog 77), Routledge, Bony
West Ham took the lead early in the second half, but a brace from Theo Walcott and an additional goal from Lukas Podolski gave the visitors a 3-1 victory. Arsenal are now in sole possession of first place, although that might change after Liverpool travel to Manchester City for the final match of the day.
Arsène Wenger made just one change to the side that played out a goalless draw with Chelsea on Monday, and Sam Allardyce’s West Ham took advantage in the first half, rarely allowing the visiting Arsenal the opportunity to get a good look in on goal. At the break, it was scoreless in East London.
The second half brought much more excitement, with West Ham scoring just a minute after the restart. Theo Walcott, flying up the flank, misjudged his pass, allowing West Ham to pounce. It was Kevin Nolan who put in the shot and, although Wojciech Szczęsny was able to save, the Arsenal goalkeeper couldn’t keep hold of the ball. Cole had an easy time mopping up the spill, nudging in from close range.
West Ham weren’t eager to sit back and soak up the Gunners’ pressure, either. Minutes later, Szczęsny spilled another shot, this one from Matthew Jarvis. Arsenal were lucky however in that the Irons had no one following up to double the hosts’ lead.
On the other end, West Ham keeper Adrian did an excellent job of keeping out Santi Cazorla, only to turn right around to knock away a shot from Mesut Özil.
Yet, despite his brilliance, Adrian couldn’t manage to save a low shot from Walcott. The ball came through the legs of McCartney and James Tompkins, likely thinking his keeper would rescue the ball, didn’t follow up. Walcott’s strike eluded Adrian to land in the back of the net.
And things just got worse for West Ham, with Walcott getting his second less than five minutes after Arsenal’s equalizer. Lukas Podolski, whose introduction for Aaron Ramsey in the 65th minute considerably livened up the visitors, sent in a cross from the left. A West Ham defender got a touch to it, but failed to stop Walcott from heading in at close range.
It was all Arsenal after that, and the visitors made it abundantly clear when Podolski himself scored the third. A poke from Olivier Giroud, closely hounded by West Ham defenders, held up play to set Podolski up perfectly. The German struck hard and his low shot settled into the bottom right corner.
West Ham United: Adrian, O’Brien (Demel 63), Tomkins, Collins (Rat 38), McCartney, Jarvis, Nolan (Taylor 75), J Cole, Noble, Diame, C Cole
A mistake from Theo Walcott lead to the first goal at West Ham, with the hosts taking the lead over Arsenal early in the second half.
Arsenal must’ve thought they were off to a flying start upon resumption of play, with Walcott racing up the wing. But Walcott misjudged his pass, allowing the hosts to pounce and launch their own counterattack.
Kevin Nolan sent his shot in from the left, and although Wojciech Szczesny was able to stop the ball from landing in the back of the net, he couldn’t hold on to it. The keeper’s slip allowed the ball to land in front of Carlton Cole. The big forward showed no hesitation, knocking in from close range.
Minutes later, West Ham very nearly got a second when Szczesny managed spill again, this time on a shot from Matthew Jarvis. The visitors were saved, however, when no Irons player followed up to knock in the rebound.
Arsenal have sparked to life following the goal from Cole, but West Ham, contrary to expectation, are not simply sitting back and defending. Does Arsène Wenger have a plan? Or will Liverpool be able to go three points clear at the top after the day’s fixtures have come to an end?
Two goals in six minutes late at White Hart Lane have put West Ham into the League Cup semifinals, with Tottenham’s first match post-André Villas Boas ending with elimination from England’s second cup competition. Despite a 67th minute opener from Emmanuel Adebayor, Spurs were upset by goals from Matthew Jarvis and Modibo Maiga, Tim Sherwood’s debut as Tottenham’s caretaker ending in disappointment.
Though Spurs changed formation and brought the likes of Adebayor back into the team, the performance had many of the hallmarks of their previous troubles. A team that was able to dominate possession with a skill level clear superior to its opposition’s was unable to generate enough chances on goal, putting four attempts on target despite holding 68 percent of the ball. West Ham, however, dominating the final stages of the match, finished with eight hosts on goal, their pressure paying off with a late, comeback victory at the expense of a suspect Spurs defense.
The Hammers join Manchester City, Manchester United, and Sunderland in the League Cup semifinals, with Sam Allardyce’s team set to face the Citizens in the round of four. Spurs, on the other hand, are out of a competition they last won in 2008, their new coach unable to reverse the team’s coach after Monday’s firing of Villas-Boas.
The match marked the debut of Sherwood as caretaker manager, who ushered in the post-Villas-Boas era by starting Adebayor and Jermaine Defoe at forward, changing Spurs’ formation to feature two strikers up front. Gylfi Sigurdsson was partnered with Moussa Dembélé in a two-man midfield supported by Andros Townsend and Aaron Lennon wide, another choice that would have been unlikely under Tottenham’s recently deposed boss.
The selection produced some lopsided first half statistics but no change on the scoreboard. Spurs held 72 percent of the ball and outshot West Ham 11-2, with Andros Townshend proving particularly effective down the left. But with each side only managing one shot on target, the game began its second half scoreless, Sherwood’s possession-hogging, goalless progress matching his predecessor’s possession-hogging, goalless failings.
By the opening of the second, West Ham was playing a bigger part in the game, yet come the hour, a more contested match still lacked in chances. James Collins’ blast from the edge of the Hammers’ attacking third had doubled his team’s tries on target, but Spurs had yet to re-test second choice keeper Adrían in the visitors’ goal. With the Hammers getting more chances to play balls down the field, there was the increasing threat of the match being stolen from the hosts.
Those fears appeared to be quelled in the 67th minute when Sherwood’s recall of Adebayor paid off. After Defoe had claimed a ball down the left, streaking deep into the Spurs’ attacking third, a bullet cross found an open Adebayor at the far post. Drilling a volley into the right side of goal, the formerly-forgotten striker gave Spurs what seemed a well-deserved lead.
But over the rest of the match’s final half-hour, West Ham proved the better side, that threat of theft coming good on Jarvis’s 80th minute goal. On a long ball from Adrían, Maiga flicked a header on to Matthew Taylor, who swept a pass across the penalty area to Jarvis on the left. The former Wolverhampton winger’s quick shot gave Hugo Lloris little chance to get across goal, the Hammers’ equalizer finishing in the top of Tottenham’s net.
Five minutes later, Sherwood’s debut was ruined, with a cross from the right finding Maiga for a surprisingly simple winner. Playing the ball out wide, West Ham found substitute Mohamed Diamé, who saw no pressure before targeting Maiga just outside of the six-yard box. In between defenders, Maiga had space to head his shot down and inside the left post, putting West Ham into the semifinals.
In a six-minute stretch, all the control Spurs had exerted throughout the match — control that seemed to come good with Adebayor’s opener — faded into insignificance. Though it wasn’t a 6-0 or 5-0 loss, it was a cup-eliminating defeat to a team that’s seen little other success this year. For the second time this season, Tottenham’s fallen to West Ham, with this defeat costing them their spot in the League Cup.