A brace from Lucas Perez and one from Michail Antonio in fifteen second-half minutes brought West Ham their first back to back wins since January 2017 with a 3-1 victory over Cardiff City.
The Hammers started the better of the two teams, with Angelo Ogbonna heading goalwards on a couple of occasions forcing good saves from Neil Etheridge between the sticks for the Bluebirds.
Cardiff could have taken the lead after West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic’s blatant push on Junior Hoilett in the West Ham box. Joe Ralls, however, could not beat Lukasz Fabiański from the spot; the keeper got down well to his right to stop the strike to keep the scores level.
West Ham learnt from their mistakes in the second half and quickly got the opening goal. The Cardiff defence couldn’t properly clear the ball and only got it as far as Robert Snodgrass on the top of the box. The Scot then lifted the ball between two defenders to substitute Lucas Perez, who slammed the ball past Etheridge to put the Hammers in front.
Hammers fans did not have to wait long for another goal. When Mark Noble slipped the ball to Arthur Masuaku on the left-wing, who then drove down the wing and played the ball to Perez, a goal looked inevitable. The Spaniard then fired the ball through the legs of Etheridge for his second of the night.
Following this, the night got even better for West Ham. In the 60th minute, a Snodgrass corner kick was whipped into Michail Antonio. The night’s makeshift right-back managed to get his head on the ball and straight past Etheridge. The Cardiff goalie had the potential to do better with it as it was very close to him, but West Ham had their third of the night.
Cardiff did get themselves a consolation of sorts. A floated corner wasn’t cleared properly, and, after a messy fumble, the ball was eventually bundled in by Josh Murphy. All of this happened about two yards away from the goal mouth – with what must have been five headers and two failed Fabiański punches all distinguishable from the huddle.
Back to back wins for the Hammers
The victories against Newcastle and Cardiff are West Ham’s first back to back wins since January 2017.
Manuel Pellegrini will be thrilled with the result, but more importantly, he will be looking up the league ahead of West Ham’s relatively kind festive fixture list.
The Hammers will be looking to get themselves in and around the top ten and give the quality of the squad an equivalent placement in the league after their tough start to the season.
Perez at the double
Despite Snodgrass getting man of the match, Perez also had an impressive performance. The summer signing from Arsenal has had a tough start to life at the London Stadium.
Minutes on the pitch have been hard to come by for the Spaniard. When Arnautovic was forced off with injury, it looked like it would be hard for the Hammers to score against Cardiff’s solid defence. Perez, however, made the difference by scoring a brace and putting West Ham out of sight.
If Arnautovic is to miss any of the upcoming games, then the Hammers faithful should be safe in the knowledge that Perez can help fill the void left by the big Austrian.
Cardiff’s away struggle continues
Travelling to England hasn’t proven fruitful for Neil Warnock’s side. The Bluebirds have only picked up one point on the road this season. If they are to stay up then this will need to change soon, as away form is crucial to survival.
Cardiff’s next fixture is already a must win. It is against fellow strugglers Southampton. This is just before they have tricky fixtures against Watford, away, and Manchester United at home.
If Cardiff continue to struggle away from home, then January will be crucial for Neil Warnock to bring in some players with Premier League experience to help them stay up. Then Bluebirds one reprieve is that they are not currently in the bottom three of the league.
Today marked the return to action of West Ham’s Andy Carroll. The timing could not be better as Marko Arnautovic was forced off with a potential hamstring injury which could keep him out of action for a while. Carroll provides a brilliant plan B for the Hammers, which many teams in the league do not possess in their armoury.
With the combative approach, the big striker can cause carnage against shaky defences. Carroll against Cardiff, although still rusty on the pitch, barely put a foot wrong. If he can get firing quickly then he will help West Ham’s surge up the league and into the top ten.
Can Antonio really fill the right-back slot?
Michail Antonio was played at right back against Cardiff City and some West Ham fans must have been having visions of when this experiment has failed in the past.
Against Cardiff however, Antonio was brilliant both up and down the right flank. As a result, he was rewarded with a trademark near-post header goal for West Ham’s third. In spite of this, there are still question marks over his defensive capabilities.
Antonio did leave his position open to Cardiff attacks and, against a stronger team, West Ham would have been punished. This is where Pablo Zabaleta comes back into the team to sit against the stronger opposition when West Ham will be doing more defensive work.
Man of the Match: Robert Snodgrass
Despite Perez’s brace, Snodgrass was the stand out performer at the London Stadium. With two assists to his name, he showed his creative ability and why West Ham bought him in the first place. Snodgrass was an engine up and down the pitch and helped link defence to attack brilliantly. If he carries on his recent form, he will cement himself as a Hammers favourite.