Football Features

VAR to the rescue: Five things learned from West Ham 1-2 Crystal Palace

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 19:42, 5 October 2019

Crystal Palace came from a goal behind at West Ham to record yet another win on the road.

Roy Hodgson’s men ran out 2-1 winners in a game that sparked to life after half-time. Sebastien Haller, having gone four games without a goal, put the hosts ahead but the Eagles struck back from the penalty spot.

Patrick van Aanholt’s equaliser from 12 yards seemed to have settled the contest, with the spoils shared, but late intervention from the video assistant referee gave the south Londoners all three points in this closely fought derby.

With the dust beginning to settle, here are five things we learned from this encounter…

1. Chasing the big two…

West Ham missed the opportunity to nestle into third before the international break, though it could very well have been for less than 24 hours with Arsenal, level on points heading into matchday eight, playing on the Sunday.

Palace, meanwhile, thanks to Jordan Ayew’s effort in the 87th minute – with VAR ruling in their favour after an initial offside call – now find themselves in fourth. Again this could be a temporary stay, but what cannot be denied is how many points they’ve accumulated on the road following their stunning 3-2 win at Man City last December.

Roy Hodgson’s men have subsequently picked up 28 points on their travels in 2019 which seems a meagre return, but it’s not when you consider only the aforementioned champions (36) and Liverpool (30) have collected more.

These three points also happen to represent the Eagles’ first win at the London Stadium, and ends the Hammer’s six-match unbeaten streak whilst inflicting a 98th London derby defeat on them in the Premier League era, the most of any capital side.

2. Some things never change

You just knew it was bound to happen. Since returning to England’s top division in 2013/14, no side has won more penalties than Crystal Palace, before Saturday’s game it stood at 46. That figure would move up one after Declan Rice handled in the penalty area nine minutes on from Haller’s opener.

Patrick van Aanholt, in the absence of Luka Milivojević, stepped up to convert the equaliser. Curiously, their opponents West Ham have now given away 39 penalties across that period, which is the most by any side. Also, this was the fourth time in their last five meetings a penalty had been awarded.

3. West Ham way

Sir Alex Ferguson once questioned what the ‘West Ham way’ exactly is. Naturally, there are many different meanings, ranging from their commitment to developing the stars of tomorrow to a particular style of football. This current incarnation led by Manuel Pellegrini is easy on the eye, playing what many would call a proactive game, the build-up to Haller’s opening goal was the stuff of imagination.

Having been anything but on the front foot in the opening 45 minutes, they very much came alive after the half-time interval, all of a sudden they were knocking quick passes creating triangles, and their slick movement was duly rewarded. If this is a sign of things to come then the Hammers faithful can look forward to exciting times ahead.

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4. Guaita under the radar

There is no doubt the Premier League is laced with some of the world’s best goalkeepers. We’ve yet to truly see Allison, widely considered as the number one ‘number one’, but Ederson and even David de Gea – who can belong in that company if he can shake off the funk which currently engulfs him – have been in regular action. Bernd Leno has looked impressive and the same could also be said of Nick Pope and Mat Ryan.

The latter two have kept three clean sheets, which is the same as Crystal Palace’s shot-stopper Vicente Guaita, who is currently in the mix for this season’s Golden Glove award. He was unfortunate not register a fourth shutout at the London Stadium. West Ham were huffing and puffing, but Sebastien Haller broke his resistance from close range. Nevertheless, at the age of 32 the former Valencia ‘keeper is very much in his peak and he should be a good servant for the Eagles for the remainder of this campaign.

5. All-round performance

Ryan Fredericks is undisputedly West Ham’s first choice at right-back having missed just ten minutes of their opening eight Premier League outings this season. For a modern full-back he’s not the most productive going forward given he averaged an assist every 545 minutes (in all competitions) at former club Fulham, but that is obviously not for the want of trying, if anything Fredericks is somewhat of a throwback.

That being said, his performance against West Ham was noteworthy. Aside from a stunning off the line clearance to deny Jeffrey Schlupp – nine minutes from the break following Wilfried Zaha’s piece of individual brilliance – he created no fewer than four chances for his teammates, including the assist for Haller to break the deadlock, which was more than every other Hammer player on the field combined.

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