Glen Murray proved to be the difference as Brighton blunted West Ham’s attack to prevail 1-0 winners in Friday night’s fixture at The Amex.
The Seagulls were able to attain their first clean sheet and their second win of the season against a West Ham side who played well below what has come to be expected of them in recent weeks.
The match started quite evenly with Brighton trying to play against West Ham on the break and were doing it with some success. The Hammers were trying to hold on to the ball, although they had to rely on set pieces in order to get the ball into the box. This was due to Brighton’s fantastic defence as they set out to sit back and put pressure on West Ham’s players as soon as they entered their half. This made it very hard for West Ham to penetrate, and therefore their attack was very much blunted.
West Ham’s best chance of the half came from some quick passing when Felipe Anderson found Pablo Zabaleta in space on the far side of the Brighton box. Zabaleta then lifted the ball back into the box to Marko Arnautovic who then volleyed the ball at goal only for it to be deflected back to Obiang on the edge of the box. But his volley was hit into the ground and it bounced over Matt Ryan’s goal.
After an uneventful first 24 minutes, Brighton’s tactics paid off. On his first start, record signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh won the ball off Andriy Yarmolenko and played the ball for Beram Kayal who accelerated down the right side of the West Ham box and whipped a cross into the box for Glenn Murray to volley home. This was his 6th goal against West Ham in five Premier League starts.
Before the first half ended, West Ham tried to get themselves onto equal terms. This was fairly unfruitful as they could not get enough bodies forward in order to cause the Brighton defence any serious problems. The most West Ham could create was a speculative 25-yard effort from Yarmolenko, which was comfortably saved by Ryan in the Brighton goal.
The second half was very predictable. Brighton came out with a clear plan and defended brilliantly and made it almost impossible for West Ham to create any real clear-cut chances to grab an equaliser. Due to these tactics, it led to a fairly uneventful second half, as neither team were able to create too much attacking action.
Although West Ham dominated possession, Brighton actually came the closest to scoring as Murray could have added to his tally; he had two separate occasions to score but not keep his headers on target and sent them both over. Brighton did also manage to get the ball in the net again for a second goal after substitute Jose Izqueirdo’s shot from the edge of the box was saved by Fabianski. The rebound fell to fellow substitute Jurgen Locadia who put it away but he was a yard offside.
West Ham’s best chance to equalise came in the 90th minute. After good work from Lucas Perez who managed to cut the ball back to Arnautovic, the Austrian smashed the ball over the crossbar from the edge of the 6-yard box.
Brighton’s solid defence
After Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk were given new 5-year contracts earlier this week, tonight they proved why. During the game they managed to completely shut down all West Ham creativity and eventually won the game for Brighton on the night. The pair perfectly judged when to sit back and when to go and press the strikers. When they did win the ball back they were able to start off the counter-attacks led by Knockaert who was also a danger all night.
More to come from Alireza Jahanbakhsh?
Brighton’s record signing got his first start for the Seagulls and had some moments that would earn him some pundits. He was undeniably important in the Brighton goal as he won the ball off Yarmolenko in the midfield and then ran into the box. This created space for Glenn Murray to score his goal. Although he did make some errors, such as blasting a volley over after good work from Murray and producing a tame shot saved by Fabianski. Coming from the Eredivisie, however, many other players have found it difficult, but he’s beginning to show enough potential to justify the £17 million that Brighton paid for him, creating a good platform to build on in future games.
Antonio’s woes continue
Michail Antonio has been seen to be consigned to the bench in recent weeks due to the form shown by Yarmolenko. In each appearance he has made since, he has shown exactly why. When he came on he was ineffective and lacked any quality going forward. This was shown by some wild crosses that wasted possession and lost any West Ham momentum that they had been building. Things need to change for Antonio soon, because if they continue he will likely find himself being flogged in January so that West Ham can bring in someone more efficient.
Man of the Match: Lewis Dunk
Brighton’s Lewis Dunk was outstanding in the heart of the defence for the Seagulls. He was the main reason for Brighton’s victory and deserved his first clean sheet of the season.