'We've let the fans down'

Big Sam said West Ham United did not defend set plays well enough against Crystal Palace
Three set pieces sent West Ham United spiralling to an unwelcome 3-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The Hammers’ unwanted recent Barclays Premier League record stretched to one win in ten games as Jason Puncheon set up all three goals for Alan Pardew’s Eagles.

After a bitty start that saw Mark Noble rattle the crossbar with a free-kick, Puncheon found Glenn Murray from a corner, and his header went in via Aaron Cresswell’s left foot four minutes before the break.

Eight minutes after half-time, the lethargic Hammers were caught cold again when Puncheon’s corner was powered home at the far post by Scott Dann, then Murray dived in to convert the midfielder’s free-kick and make the game safe.

Murray was then sent-off for two bookable offences and Enner Valencia’s rasping effort on 76 gave West Ham hope, but despite an eye-catching cameo from debutant Nene and laying siege to the Palace goal in the closing stages, the hosts could not mount a late comeback.

“It was far too late when we were 3-0 down,” Big Sam lamented. “I suppose you could say we hit the woodwork twice and had those gone in, they could have made all the difference.

“The other reason was that we pointed out the most dangerous side of Crystal Palace in terms of scoring threat was set plays, with 50 per cent of their goals coming from set plays, and we’ve lost the game on three of them.

“Irrespective of our performance not being good enough, if we’d done that part of the job right, Enner Valencia’s goal may have brought us something, but it wasn’t to be.

“I’m really struggling with the performance because what we’ve built for the West Ham fans is an expectation, particularly against Manchester United, but then Crystal Palace came here and we’ve let ourselves down and we’ve let them down.

“We came so close to getting fabulous victories against Tottenham and Man United, so to lose 3-1 at home was because we couldn’t defend three set plays well enough. Our main disappointment is that we didn’t do well enough to get anything out of the game.”
We’ve let ourselves down and we’ve let the fans down
Of the few positives that the manager could take, two were the performance of debutant Nene and the return to the Barclays Premier League goals column for Enner Valencia for the first time in four months.

Big Sam and his players now have to re-group ahead of the visit of leaders Chelsea on Wednesday evening.

On the face of Saturday’s performance, West Ham will have to tighten things up considerably if they are to stop Jose Mourinho’s side from extending their unwanted recent winless run to six matches.

“We have built the expectation and we have to live with it and I don’t think we have lived with the expectation and that’s a shame. The lads know they didn’t perform to their best.

“When you sit in the league where we sit, the defined lines are between whether you maintain and improve that level or not, and we haven’t seen it out against Man United or Tottenham, which leaves us with less points than we should have.

“Now, we face Chelsea and Arsenal and it’s been a while since we’ve won. These are massive asks for us to gain victories from, but we will certainly try.

“That is why the Palace game was more winnable than the two we faced before and the two games we’re going to face now.”