West Ham show ruthless side but late Crystal Palace fightback emphasises need for new defensive signings

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  • Crystal Palace
    Crystal Palace
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  • West Ham United
    West Ham United
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  • Manuel Lanzini
    Manuel Lanzini
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  • Michael Olise
    French association football player
Triumphant: Declan Rice was victorious on his 150th Premier League appearance for West Ham  (Getty Images)
Triumphant: Declan Rice was victorious on his 150th Premier League appearance for West Ham (Getty Images)

West Ham survived a late resurgence from Crystal Palace to start 2022 with a win.

After a largely dispiriting December, West Ham have now racked up consecutive victories either side of the New Year, showing a ruthless streak here which has long been absent, though the late comeback provided a reminder of the need for cover at the back this month.

Manuel Lanzini struck twice after Michail Antonio had opened the scoring to move within a point of Arsenal in fourth place. Palace fought back late on through Odsonne Edouard and Michael Olise to tee up a tense finish.

David Moyes is urging his side to repeat their run from last January, when a sequence of four straight Premier League wins pushed them into European contention. The only difference this time around is that it is the top four Moyes has his eyes on.

On this evidence, West Ham aren’t quite out of that Champions League race just yet, but they must improve if they want to stay there.

Having fallen behind to early goals in their last two games, West Ham survived a first-minute scare here as Jeffrey Schlupp struck the far post from just six yards out.

Palace made the brighter start, especially considering their absentees. Wilfried Zaha, Conor Gallagher and Cheikhou Kouyate were all absent through a mixture of injury and positive coronavirus cases.

After a shaky start however, it was the Hammers who took command in a flash as two goals in three minutes seemingly put the game beyond their hosts before the half-hour mark.

Antonio ended his drought on Boxing Day in the defeat to Southampton and made it two goals in three games here as he nipped in behind the Palace defence to get a toe onto Said Benrahma’s devilish inswinging cross and poke beyond Vicente Guaita, who had so brilliantly denied the West Ham striker moments earlier.

Before the travelling fans had stopped celebrating the opener they were treated to a second as Declan Rice, back in the side after suspension and making his 150th Premier League appearance, drove through the middle of those in red and blue before cutting across to Lanzini, who hit a cracker worthy of a place in last night’s fireworks display.

The Argentine, who has forced his way back into Moyes’s side this season, took two touches, one on his right and another on his left, and fired a fantastic half-volley into the top corner, the ball kissing off the bar before hitting the back of the net.

Manuel Lanzini notched a brace as the Hammers showed their ruthless side in the first half (Getty Images)
Manuel Lanzini notched a brace as the Hammers showed their ruthless side in the first half (Getty Images)

Palace fought back, with Odsonne Edouard hitting the bar before Lukasz Fabianski twice had to save from Christian Benteke, but their response was cut short thanks to some foolish play from their captain.

As the ball was cleared following a West Ham break, Luka Milivojevic stretched his arm out to control it. Referee Darren England waved away the initial West Ham protests before a VAR review showed that the Serbian midfielder had not only handled, but had done so inside the box.

After Benrahma had tried to take charge of the spot-kick, the ball was passed to Lanzini, who fired low into the corner to beat Guaita for his fourth Premier League goal of the season.

West Ham were not having it all their own way though, Palace still pushed forward after the break and Edouard fired wide from Jordan Ayew’s cross at the far post.

While the Hammers were not in total control, they had taken their chances while Palace were passing theirs up, up until the moment they were handed one on a plate.

Michael Olise, introduced from the bench, sent in a cross from the right which should have been easily dealt with by Issa Diop, only for the West Ham defender to duck out of the way and allow Edouard the freedom to poke home and deny the Hammers a first clean sheet since mid-December.

Minutes after the Edouard goal, Diop rushed out of the back four and clattered Jordan Ayew, with Olise bending the resulting free-kick into the far corner.

But a late Crystal Palace fightback underlined the need for new defensive recruits (Getty Images)
But a late Crystal Palace fightback underlined the need for new defensive recruits (Getty Images)

As that late wobble made clear, there is still room for improvement from this West Ham squad - Moyes knows that and so do most of the players. It has been almost a month since West Ham lost both Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma to injury and Diop’s late lapses show there is a need to provide cover and competition at the back.

While the two goals took the sheen off three vital points, West Ham kick on into the New Year in good shape overall.

It was a victory on this day in 2021 at Goodison Park that sparked the run to take West Ham to sixth last season. The hope for Moyes is that come May they will look back on this victory as the start of another special second half of the campaign.

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