Antonio - We needed the clean sheet
Michail Antonio says the self-belief of the West Ham United squad never
wavered ahead of Saturday's battling win at Crystal Palace. The Hammers were
on a run of five Premier League games without victory, but ended that
sequence thanks to Manuel Lanzini's fine early goal and a penalty miss from
Palace's Christian Benteke in first half stoppage time. Slaven Bilic's men
then had to overcome a harsh red card for Aaron Cresswell with 15 minutes
remaining but they passed the test – much to Antonio's delight. He
explained: "We knew it [the win] was coming – we just needed to make sure we
gelled together and kept a clean sheet because we always believe we will
score goals. It's nice to get that clean sheet and a win, so onwards and
upwards. "We managed to keep the lead even though we had ten men for the
last 15 minutes. The boys are buzzing and can't wait for the next game."
The Hammers lined up in an unfamiliar three at the back formation, with
Antonio operating as a wing-back – but the former Nottingham Forest man was
happy to put in a shift for his teammates. He added: "We lost one or two of
our defensive players before this match, so I had to do a job [there] for
the team and I will do that. "It's a challenge going up for headers with
Benteke – he's a big, strong lad and you can see he's quality with his head.
"I'm decent with my head too, so I just had to go and see what I could do."
Antonio spent the previous week-and-a-half away with the England squad, and
although he did not make Gareth Southgate's selection for the meetings with
Malta and Slovenia, he is determined to give himself another crack. He
added: "It was a decent time with the England team. It's always good
experience and always good to go there and train with the elite [England]
players. "Hopefully I can keep doing it and keep getting into the squad."
Cresswell - It was about us being a team
Aaron Cresswell faced a rollercoaster of emotions on his comeback for the
Hammers but was thrilled to play his part in a crucial 1-0 win over Crystal
Cresswell was making his first appearance of the season after damaging knee
ligaments during the pre-season trip to Austria, but looked as if he had
never been away with a superb display at left back. The Hammers full-back
played a major role in the only goal of the game when he linked up with
Dimitri Payet and played in the perfect ball for Manuel Lanzini to produce a
clinical finish Cresswell's return was marred by his sending-off late in the
game after he picked up two yellow cards within the space of 51 seconds –
even though both incidents were extremely harsh on the 26-year-old. Despite
being forced to watch the final stages in the dressing room, Cresswell was
delighted that his team-mates were able to hold on for the victory and hopes
this can be a major turning point in the season.
Cresswell said: "It was a rollercoaster game for me with a lot of ups and
downs. I am a little bit disappointed to be sent off but it was great to be
back with the lads and to get three points which we desperately needed. "It
is not about me or the other lads, it is about the team and we came here to
get three points and that is what we have done. "Everyone knows we have had
a slow start and coming off the back of last season when we finished
seventh, to start the season the way we have is very disappointing getting
just one victory from seven games. "To come to Palace which is one of the
toughest places to come because the crowd are on top of you and there is a
great atmosphere – to get three points is massive. The times we have been
here we have got some good results. "Thankfully I was able to set Manu up
for the goal which was a great feeling and it as something we had worked on
in training. Tonks and the back four are all six foot plus and we only had
Zaza up top with Manu and Dimi. "I needed to put the cross along the floor
and it was a great finish from Manu. The main thing was to be involved with
the lads and get the three points. "It was a battling performance and we
were fortunate that they missed a penalty. That gave us a chance and we
defended brilliantly. "For me to sit inside and watch the final 15 minutes
was very nervous and I am glad we held on to get the three points. "It was
not about individual performances today. It was about us being a team and I
thought we worked hard for each other."
There were a number of impressive performances from the West Ham players but
Cresswell had special praise for Simone Zaza who was one of the unsung
heroes in the victory. Cresswell added: "I thought Zaza was brilliant
upfront and he is just missing a goal but he will get one soon. "I am
delighted to be back with the lads and it is disappointing I cannot play
against Sunderland next week. "There is nothing I can do about that now and
I am sure the lads will do well and take this victory into next week."
Stat's a Fact - Aaron's back!
That West Ham United had missed Aaron Cresswell in the opening months of the
2016/17 season was obvious.
The common opinion among players, staff, fans and independent pundits alike
was that the defender's absence played a big part in the Hammers'
indifferent start to the campaign.
On Saturday, that view was reaffirmed as the No3 made a stunning return to
action in a morale-boosting 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace.
Cresswell's return in a left wing-back role in a new 3-1-4-2 formation that
paid dividends at a rain-soaked Selhurst Park.
The 2015 Hammer of the Year marked his first Premier League appearance of
the season with a typically energetic, tenacious and technically-proficient
Any concerns about his match-fitness quickly disappeared as he raced forward
within the opening four minutes before blasting a rising shot into Steve
Mandanda's side netting.
Cresswell was always available on the left touchline, combining regularly
with Dimitri Payet. The pair were involved in West Ham's goal, swapping
passes before the returning player's superb low cross was expertly converted
by Manuel Lanzini.
So, how did his display stack up statistically?
Defensively, Cresswell made two clearances – Winston Reid and Cheikhou
Kouyate each made 15 – and two interceptions – two fewer than Angelo
In possession, his 36 touches were just the tenth-highest among West Ham
players, with Mark Noble (64) and Pedro Obiang (60) leading the way in that
department, while his pass-completion of 60% (successful passes shown in
green) was eleventh-highest.
However, Cresswell did make two 'key' passes (shown in yellow) including, of
course, his cross for Lanzini's match-winning goal (shown in blue) – the one
accurate cross of the three he delivered.
Sadly, the returning player was also sent-off for two bookable offences in
the space of 60 second-half seconds. The first came when he went down in the
Palace penalty area under a challenge from Yohan Cabaye and was booked for
simulation, although replays showed he was touched. The second yellow card
was shown after he was penalised for a foul on Wilfried Zaha.
Statistically, then, Cresswell's performance was good but not outstanding,
but his contribution to a vital victory was there for all to see. His return
played a massive part in West Ham's win.
CRYSTAL PALACE 0-1 WEST HAM – MATCH REPORT
BY BRIAN KNOX ON 15 OCTOBER 2016 AT 11:26PM
West Ham produced their best performance of the season to date this evening
as Manuel Lanzini scored the crucial goal to secure the much needed 3 points
in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. Underfire Manager, Slaven Bilic changed
his system around for the trip to Selhurst Park as he reverted to three at
the back and the return of Aaron Cresswell played a major part in the
Hammers securing all three points. Cresswell had missed the last 3 months
with a knee ligament injury but his return was vital for the Hammers as it
was his cross that produced the only goal of the game from Lanzini.
The only downside for the Hammers and Cresswell was his red card late in the
game after two ridiculous decisions from the officials as Aaron received two
yellow cards in 51 seconds and neither was a bookable offence. Thankfully,
the decision did not affect the outcome of the game and Bilic and his
players were left celebrating a memorable victory. They will now be hoping
to build on this with the visit of Sunderland next weekend.
The Hammers started the game on the front foot and Cresswell almost made a
dream return to action when he could have opened the scoring after just four
minutes. Obiang played the ball through to the Hammers full-back who raced
towards the Palace goal and fired a powerful shot into the side netting.
Cresswell was involved once again two minutes later as he played the ball
into Simone Zaza who struck a low shot which was comfortably saved by Palace
keeper Steve Mandanda.
The away side continued to create the best openings and had another golden
chance on 14 minutes when Dimitri Payet's corner picked out Cheikhou Kouyate
who rose above the Palace defence and headed the ball just wide of the post.
Michail Antonio came within inches of connecting with Kouyate's header with
the goal at his mercy
The Hammers were rewarded for their early dominance when they opened the
scoring on 19 minutes and it was a superb move which led to the opening
goal. Payet and Cresswell were involved in a neat interchange which resulted
in the Hammers full-back bursting clear down the left hand side. Cresswell
played in the perfect cross for Lanzini who produced a clinical finish and
struck the ball with his first touch past Mandanda into the corner of the
The Hammers were handed a major lifeline on the stroke of half-time after
Ogbonna brought down Benteke inside the box. Referee Martin Atkinson pointed
to the spot, but the Palace striker fired his effort wide of the post. The
Belgian striker was then denied by the woodwork just a few seconds later as
he rose the highest to meet a cross from Joel Ward but his close-range
header struck the post.
The Hammers went in search of the second goal and nearly extended their lead
on 56 minutes. Lanzini burst clear into the box and the ball fell to Payet
who saw his shot superbly kept out by Mandanda. Antonio was then very
unlucky not to get his 6th goal of the season in the 75 minute when he saw
his close-range header cleared off the line by Jason Puncheon.
The Hammers were reduced to ten-men sixty seconds later and Bilic was forced
to re-shuffle his pack for the closing stages of the game. Benteke came
close with another header on 81 minutes when his header flew just past the
post and Adrian saved the best for last in injury time when he made a superb
save to deny a close-range header from Connor Wickham.
Crystal Palace: Mandanda; Ward, Tomkins, Delaney, Kelly (Fryers 46);
Townsend, Ledley (Cabaye 46), McArthur (Wickham 70), Puncheon, Zaha; Benteke
Subs not used: Hennessey, Campbell, Lee, Sako
West Ham: Adrian; Reid, Ogbonna, Kouyate, Antonio, Cresswell, Obiang, Noble,
Lanzini (Nordtveit 88), Payet (Fernandes 79); Zaza (Calleri 86)
Subs not used: Spiegel, Feghouli, Collins, Fletcher
Bookings: Noble, Ogbonna, Cresswell
Red Card: Cresswell
Referee: Martin Atkinson
EXWHUEMPLOYEE EXCLUSIVE COLUMN: INJURIES EXPLAINED AND TRANSFERS DISCUSSED
BY EXWHUEMPLOYEE ON 16 OCTOBER 2016 AT 9:44PM
It has been a long time since I have written one of these and this has been
a conscious decision. There seemed to be a real barrage of negative and
unhelpful press at the moment. From the ladies team, to the players drinking
at all hours and of course the team's performance. If I am honest with you
there are other negative stories that I could quite easily put out but it
really isn't constructive to do so at the moment. We all needed to get
behind the team and try to create some positive press and thankfully this
will happen now that we got the win at Palace. I am a huge fan and
ultimately all I want is for the club to win and do as well as they can and
unlike other sites we chose what news we feel is appropriate to put out as
some things are better off being dealt with internally.
The Palace match feels like a real turning point. We played really well and
the introduction of Cresswell is a massive boost for us. You could see that
from his assist and support for Payet. The change of formation really suited
the team and I am a firm believer of sticking with a winning team so I
wouldn't change it (unless enforced like Cresswell's suspension). I thought
Reid was outstanding, Obiang proving why I called and called for him on our
radio show and I thought Kouyate was amazing in a position that he hasn't
played in this season.
Unfortunately defensively we will be missing Cresswell, Byram, Masuaku and
Arbeloa for the Sunderland game. Cresswell's suspension cannot be overturned
because it needs to be a straight red before the club can appeal. The only
way that they can appeal is if the referee admits to a mistake and knowing
the ref in question this is not going to happen even though it clearly was.
Byram suffered a bad hamstring strain and will be about for around 6-8
weeks, Masuaku should be back in a month and Arbeloa will not be available
for a few weeks. I personally would continue with the same system and maybe
play Feghouli as the left wing back, although I have no idea whether he has
played there before. Bringing in Oxford or Collins and playing Ogbonna there
could be another option.
Good news is that Ayew is progressing very well from his injury and is ahead
of schedule for his comeback. He should start to train with the first time
at the end of the month/start of the new one and this will be a massive
boost for us. With Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho their return is much harder
to predict. Both were meant to be available for the Palace game but the
players and their injury situation have always been delicate because they
are both so prone to it. Therefore I can't predict and the club try to avoid
estimating when they will be back.
The result and performance really showed how much the players back Bilic and
support him. You could see by the performance, the reaction from the players
to him and the comments in the interviews afterwards. This is very
important to note and another good performance against Sunderland and things
suddenly look very different for us.
The ladies situation has now changed with the club bringing them under the
umbrella of the main club and with the old chairman Stephen Hunt leaving his
position. There are expected to be many other changes brought in personnel
(a new manager), playing staff and how the club is organised, all will
hopefully have a positive impact for the West Ham ladies game.
The situation with Zaza is an interesting one because I thought he played
well on Saturday and it was his best performance by a mile. I hope he
retains his place against Sunderland where I hope he will score and I am
sure will show lots of passion if he does. The problem is he only has about
10 games left now before we will have to sign him permanently for around
£25m. Has he done enough to warrant that fee? At this point I would say no
but if he was to suddenly get a few goals it is a tricky situation for the
club to find itself in. Whatever happens with Zaza will dictate our January
transfer window. We have clubs lined up that are willing to take Zaza should
we cancel the loan deal and an early target list being drawn up by us. So
far though no decision has been made on Zaza's future.
Reece Oxford situation is an interesting one. The club decided against
loaning him out this season because they felt he was going to feature more
especially if we were still in Europe. Of course with our elimination he
hasn't figured much and is said to be quite frustrated. The club really want
him to stay but this isn't looking clear cut at the moment. There is a
strong chance that we will now loan him out in the January window with a
host of clubs interested including Newcastle and Aston Villa.
I am delighted that we have a positive feeling at the club now and I hope
that this continues into the Sunderland game. I cannot wait to do our radio
show on Wednesday as it is the first one we have done after a good
performance, I have already chosen my song. I was delighted that the site
got shortlisted for the FBAs best new blog award and would be so grateful
for your votes. Please click here to do so: ctt.ec/4em0d
I have also been shortlisted for the best social media account for the
second year and again any votes would be greatly received. ctt.ec/kHeuU
Mark Noble reveals West Ham players and staff held crunch talks after team
22:30, 16 OCT 2016
BY DARREN LEWIS
The Irons captain took on critics who have savaged them over their poor
defending and last month's night out, which has resulted in an internal
Mark Noble summed up the frustration of his West Ham team-mates after this
impressive win. The Irons captain took on critics who have savaged them over
their poor defending and last month's night out, which has resulted in an
internal investigation. "It's not nice to pick up your phone and read how
bad we are," said Noble. "People saying that we're this and we're that. I
watched TV before the game and saw people saying how bad our defending was.
"That win was a little boost for us. Just to show we do care. We really,
really care. The way we've trained, the way we are as players, it's really
important to us. "When you look at it, by all accounts we've had a terrible
start, our worst in how many years. But we're only a point now behind
Leicester, who won the league last season. Start winning a couple of games
and it doesn't look so bad after all. "We've had meetings as players, with
the staff. We got hammered for going out on a night out, but since that
night we've picked up four points, so is it a bad thing? I don't know."
Good points, all of them. West Ham were indeed good value for this victory
with Palace not at the races until it was too late. But Noble will be well
aware the criticism was not unwarranted. The players were slaughtered
because performances were light years away from the ones that put them into
top-four contention last season. They were, pardon the pun, hammered for an
apparent complacency that plunged them into the bottom three. Even boss
Slaven Bilic remarked that some of them appeared to be dining out on past
glories. And on the subject of dining out, the criticism was not for the
team-bonding meal to which the squad were fully entitled. It was because of
what followed. At least two players were still in a pub the following
morning. Fortunately, when they are focused, the Irons can do some damage.
With the league as tight as it is, there is still time for them to use this
win as a springboard.
At times in the first half, Palace could not get near them. Manuel Lanzini's
well-taken winner was just reward for a fine display. West Ham rode their
luck with Christian Benteke inexplicably missing a penalty on the stroke of
half-time. But the Hammers look a different side with Aaron Cresswell at
full-back instead of the awful Arthur Masuaku. So it was a shame that
referee Martin Atkinson overreacted by booking him for protesting when Yohan
Cabaye fouled him in the box. Atkinson then ensured Cresswell will be
suspended with a second yellow for a challenge on Wilfried Zaha that was not
even a foul. Ludicrous. Bilic presumably decided he did not need the
aggravation of criticising an official, but Noble made his feelings clear.
"He's hard done by," said the midfielder. "He does get caught for the
non-penalty. It's a reckless tackle. I think if it's outside the box he
gives a foul. Then he gets sent off. "If that's a yellow card, I'm probably
getting 10 of them a night."