West Ham turn on the style to end wretched run with emphatic win over Brentford

West Ham turn on the style to end wretched run with emphatic win over Brentford

After eight games of strife, a night of giddy relief.

West Ham’s winless start to 2024 is no more, Jarrod Bowen’s terrific hat-trick consigning a sorry Brentford to a 4-2 defeat that eases the pressure on David Moyes and perhaps leaves the Bees as the capital’s new crisis club.

Two Bowen goals in the opening seven minutes set an unexpectedly upbeat tone, and though Neal Maupay hit back with his customary strike against West Ham, the England forward effectively wrapped up the three points heading home his third on the hour.

Emerson’s long-range stunner put icing on claret and blue cake, and while substitute Yoane Wissa curled a late consolation, the visitors never truly threatened the comeback that would have avoided a fifth defeat in six.

The calibre of opposition the Bees have faced in the last month means that statistic does not quite paint the full picture. But after Everton’s points deduction was reduced from ten to six on Monday afternoon, Thomas Frank’s men are in a dangerous spot, now just two points and five places above Luton in 18th, and having played a game more.

West Ham, meanwhile, climb back up to eighth, outside the European places only on goal difference. The grumblings of recent weeks, though, have made clear that results and points are not the only metric that matters, and buoyed by the return of Lucas Paqueta from injury, this was an attacking display unrecognisable on all fronts.

What had, coming into the contest, been a five-hour wait for a league goal lasted not even five minutes more, the hosts taking the lead as due reward for the kind of free-flowing start that made frustrations at two months of stodge all the more valid.

Emerson, enlivened from the outset by Paqueta’s return in tandem on the left, fed Bowen, who lashed past the suspect Mark Flekken at the near-post to end his own seven-game drought.

In spite of that lean spell, a 12th league goal of the season equalled Bowen’s best tally in a top-flight campaign with February not yet out, and within five minutes he had surpassed it. The finish this time was more delicate, a caress into the corner, and the move more slick, a swift exchange down the right freeing Vladimir Coufal to cut-back to Bowen unmarked eight yards out.

Already by that point Tomas Soucek had steered over with a golden chance when meeting James Ward-Prowse’s flick and David Moyes, playing ballboy on the near touchline, was urging his side forwards for what even inside a quarter-of-an-hour might have been a decisive third.

In the aftermath of the second goal, Christian Norgaard, the Brentford captain, had gathered his teetering troops on halfway and demanded a response. It came in quick time and from a predictable source.

Maupay’s strike in the reverse fixture in November had ended his run of 34 matches without a goal and left West Ham supporters cursing Sod’s Law, given the Frenchman’s previous strike and also come against their side 14 months earlier.

The Everton loanee’s form since has been rather more prolific, but there is still a sense that somehow he saves his best for this particular rival: a lifted finish from Keane Lewis-Potter’s assists made it five goals in as many league starts against West Ham.

Optimism around these parts can be fragile at the best of times, never mind on the back of recent woe, and the counter-punch gave the atmosphere an immediate unease, particularly as the visitors began the second-half with their best spell of the match.

Moyes’ players, though, did not seem perturbed, playing without the hesitancy that has infected their performances of late.

Paqueta’s return had allowed Mohammed Kudus to shift back to the right and from there the Ghanaian crafted Bowen’s third, drifting inside Sergio Reguilon and clipping onto the Englishman’s head.

When Emerson smashed a fourth into the top-corner from all of 25 yards a champagne finale looked on the cards, but West Ham were sloppy, Wissa allowed too much time to curl into the corner after coming off the bench and then Alphonse Areola called upon to make a string of late stops.