Rampant Hammers knock in four in Villa romp
Aston Villa 1-4 West Ham United
West Ham United maintained their unbeaten away record in 2021/22 with a dismantling of ten-man Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon.
David Moyes’ side notched twice either side of the break to record a 4-1 win and move level on points with third-placed Manchester City. Never before in our Premier League history have we had 20 points from the first ten games of a campaign.
After Ben Johnson fired the Hammers into an early lead, the home side flickered with Ollie Watkins’ leveller, only for Declan Rice to quickly restore the advantage.
Ezri Konsa’s red card early in the second half hampered his team’s efforts, although they did keep pushing until the Hammers took the contest away from them in the closing stages through goals from Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen.
After making eight changes to his side for the midweek Carabao Cup win over Manchester City, Hammers boss Moyes reverted to the eleven who had triumphed in their past two Premier League outings, and they immediately set about trying to exploit any early Villa nerves.
The hosts had lost their previous three games and were passive in their defending in the early exchanges, allowing Rice to sweep a ball out to Johnson far too easily in the seventh minute.
Left-back Matt Targett stood off the Hammers defender, and he too advantage by stepping inside and shooting across home goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez and into the bottom left-hand corner.
West Ham kept their foot on the gas in those opening exchanges, and Bowen was only denied a second by a vital headed block by Matty Cash from close range. The No20’s 16th minute strike was surely destined for the net had Cash’s touch not taken it over the bar.
With Moyes’ men working hard off the ball and limiting Villa’s space effectively, they hadn’t really come under threat before Watkins levelled somewhat out of the blue with 34 minutes played.
John McGinn’s clever reverse ball allowed Emiliano Buendia to get the wrong side of Fornals and advance to the by-line, where he cut back for Watkins to finish low and hard from 12 yards.
The Hammers responded in perfect fashion, though, retaking the lead a mere four minutes later. Again, the home side were guilty of allowing the Hammers to play their football in front of them, giving Saïd Benrahma the room he needed to lay-off to Rice 25 yards out, and the visitors’ skipper was able to take a touch before drilling home via the foot of the left-hand post.
If Villa were in trouble at the break, their task was made all the harder two minutes into the second half when Konsa was dismissed by referee Chris Kavanagh.
The home defender looked to have initially have escaped with a booking for his foul on Bowen just outside the box, but Kavanagh was called to his pitchside monitor by VAR Stuart Attwell and decided that he had, in fact, denied a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Despite that, Villa were a whisker away from levelling again on 57 minutes when Watkins got up to head goalwards from eight yards, but Łukasz Fabiański reacted superbly to touch his effort onto the crossbar.
To the home side’s credit, the kept the Hammers honest and had spells of momentum until Moyes’ side made the game safe in the final ten minutes.
Fornals scored their third, following in with impeccable timing to knock into the net after Martínez had denied Bowen with a strong hand down low to his right.
There would be no denying Bowen just four minutes later though, as Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini combined, with the latter unselfishly squaring for Bowen to convert with Villa hopelessly stretched.
The jubilant away end broke into the olés as the Hammers were able to enjoy the closing stages knowing they had registered yet another away performance to make the league take notice.
Aston Villa: Martínez, Cash, Hause, Konsa, Targett, Nakamba, McGinn, J.Ramsey (Young 15), Buendia (Mings 52), Bailey (El Ghazi 72), Watkins
Subs: Steer (GK), Tuanzebe, Chukwuemeka, Archer, Davis, A.Ramsey
Goal: Watkins 34
West Ham United: Fabiański, Johnson, Zouma, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Souček, Bowen (Coufal 90), Benrahma (Lanzini 64), Fornals (Vlašić 90), Antonio
Subs: Areola (GK), Dawson, Diop, Masuaku, Noble, Yarmolenko
Goals: Johnson 7, Rice 38, Fornals 80, Bowen 84
Booked: Fornals, Bowen
Referee: Chris Kavanagh