From the Terraces


Fan blogger Joe Difford returns with his look back at the Hammers’ week…
After the relief of beating Crystal Palace last week, Slaven Bilic and co were desperate to make it two consecutive wins for the first time this season as they took on relegation candidates Sunderland.
From the first whistle it was clear that the confidence from a convincing win at Selhurst Park had done us wonders, and it is a miracle we didn’t score in the opening thirty minutes. Dimitri Payet came close on a number of occasions, gliding through the defence before seeing his shot saved, before hitting the post after a great dummy to fool his man.
After such a fantastic 2016, it is no surprise to see Payet as one of the thirty nominees for the Ballon d’Or.
For all our possession and pressure, we couldn’t seem to find the back of the net, but our dominance allowed Edimilson Fernandes to shine on his Premier League debut. Pedro Obiang was excellent yet again, and is now arguably one of the most important players on the field.
Our new back three of Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna and Cheikhou Kouyate worked wonders again, keeping a second clean sheet in as many games. The mixture of pace, heading ability, reading of the game and ability to pass or run out of defence now gives us a diverse, powerful back line.
At half time, it was hard to believe that we weren’t ahead, and Wahbi Khazri almost pinched a goal just after the restart, but his shot was poor and Adrian’s positioning was perfect.
As the clock ticked on and the crowd grew more and more restless, it appeared likely that we would have to settle for a point; tough to take given the fact that were were in control throughout.
David Moyes’ decision to bring on another centre back with just a short period of play to go proved costly, and their lack of ambition helped us hugely.
With all eleven men sat behind the ball and a last minute corner expected to be whipped into the box, Payet and Mark Noble opted to work it out to the edge of the area where Winston Reid was waiting.
The last time the Kiwi scored was with the dramatic late winner in the final game at the Boleyn Ground, and this one was similar. He turned onto his left and let rip from 20 yards, seeing his shot fly into the bottom right corner and past a sea of bodies. There were calls for offside as Jonathan Calleri was in front of the goalkeeper, but replays showed he wasn’t infringing and the London Stadium exploded.
A last minute winner against a team bottom of the table might not seem like a great result, but it means we have two wins in two and two clean sheets. We also gained confidence and can take that into our tough games against Chelsea midweek, and Everton at the weekend.
If we can perform as we did against Sunderland, with a little more accuracy in front of goal, we could make it three, or perhaps even four wins on the trot.
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