The honours were even at the Hawthorns today as West Brom and West Ham saw out a goalless draw, which for the most part reflected the gloomy mid September weather.
One positive to be drawn from the game was the equalling of Ryan Giggs’ record of 632 Premier League appearances by West Brom’s Gareth Barry, who simultaneously became the first player to start 600 games in the Premier League era.
The opening stages of the game looked promising; the Baggies breaking well down the right flank with Jay Rodrigiuez earning a corner in the first thirty seconds. The resulting corner set the tone for the rest of the match as it threatened to trouble the Hammers defence before the realisation that it had been over hit, and the play fizzled out as quickly as it came.
Kieran Gibbs came close to breaking the deadlock in the twelfth minute, however his shot, resulting from a lovely bit of play from Brunt which left Obiang on the floor, was blocked by Winston Reid.
The Baggies, who scored more goals from set pieces than any other club in Europe’s top 5 leagues last season, seemed unable to capitalise on their strengths which to their credit West Ham did well to counter.
The closest that either side got to a goal came from Obiang who audaciously wound up a shot from the best part of 40 yards out just before the half hour mark, which looped and curved over the head of Ben Foster who had been rendered a spectator by the quality of the execution. Unfortunately, he was denied what would have been a contender for goal of the season by a lick of paint on the crossbar.
James Collins (who many were surprised to see come back out for the second half following his first half injury) was withdrawn just before the hour with a nasty looking injury, with Marko Arnautovic taking his place and the Hammers shifting from a 3-4-3 formation to a flat back four.
The game took an unexpectedly gritty turn at about this point; Craig Dawson decided to welcome Arnautovic to the fray by kicking him in the back of the leg, while Ben Foster made the decision shortly afterwards (after an uncharacteristic moment of hesitation) to charge down Andy Carroll’s flick on and caught Javier Hernandez on the edge of the box. Foster was lucky that the referee only produced a yellow card, not because he was the last man, but because he appeared to have both feet off the floor and his studs up.
The best indicator of the match comes from looking at the statistics, or rather the lack of some of the important ones. There were two shots on target today with twice as many drop balls for injuries and restarts. A disjointed and disappointing affair which will certainly not be troubling the top end of the Match of the Day running order. My advice? Watch the highlights for Obiangs effort and get yourself an early night.
Final Score: West Bromwich Albion 0 – 0 West Ham United
Man of The Match: Chris Brunt. Playing right midfield the Northern Irishman rolled back the years and looked to push the Baggies up the pitch with some smart passing and neat touches to keep possession. Looked leggy towards the end of match due to the sheer amount of running he had done throughout the game.