West Ham bounced back from last week’s unfortunate defeat against Everton to take all three points at home to an in-form Newcastle United side.
Aaron Cresswell’s first Hammers goal early on in the second-half was enough to claim the points and end Alan Pardew’s side’s five match Premier League winning streak. It was an underwhelming performance in the all but that will not phase Sam Allardyce as the club ended their run of three matches without a win.
The victory lifted West Ham back up to fifth in the table – leapfrogging Newcastle – and ensured they remain ahead of London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal, who both also won at the weekend.
Here we take a look at five things we learned from the Irons’ victory.
1. CRESSWELL IS A MATCH WINNER
The 24-year-old left-back continues to rise in estimations with every match. Not only is he defensively sound, he is a vital outlet as an attacking force and proved he has the composure and ability of a fine finisher, too, adding a goal to his two assists so far this season.
It was a little fortuitous that Cheikhou Kouyate’s miss-hit shot fell his way but the fact he made such a positive run speaks volumes about his attitude and what he brings to the team.
While the likes of Alex Song, Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia have taken most of the headlines this season Cresswell’s contribution should not be overlooked.
2. HAMMERS CAN COPE WITH INJURIES
Despite five key absentees last weekend West Ham really tested Everton, a side with proven top-six credentials, and were unlucky to come away empty handed.
Although Stewart Downing and Kouyate returned against Newcastle the Hammers were still without arguably their best defender (Winston Reid), best midfielder (Song) and best striker (Sakho).
To win under these circumstances will give Allardyce and the team massive confidence, Newcastle made it really tough but West Ham grinded out the result.
3. ALLARDYCE STILL PREPARED TO WIN UGLY
The manager has been commended for the football he has the side playing this season but due to injuries and the returning Andy Carroll he reverted back to a 4-5-1 which brought a dour performance reminiscent of last campaign.
They lacked creativity and looked to rely on crosses and set pieces in the hope that the towering striker would be able to make the difference. He couldn’t and in the end it was a stroke of luck that breached the Newcastle defence, but nevertheless it was an important victory.
Fans will just be hoping the team revert back to the free-flowing, high-scoring football they started to become accustomed to earlier in the season when everyone is back fit.
4. ZARATE NOT TRUSTED AS STRIKER
Many expected the Argentine to start the match after his scintillating second-half substitute appearance against Everton last time out when he changed the course of the game with his contribution, which included a goal.
However he was again left out and again brought on as a sub, which suggests Allardyce does not yet trust the 27-year-old to play up top from the off. His creativity could have been useful in a game that lacked any, though, and by the time he came on he could have little effect.
5. WEST HAM’S LUCK MIGHT BE CHANGING
The Hammers are not renowned for their luck but against Newcastle it was a huge stroke of it that eventually saw them claim the points. Kouyate’s fluky ‘though-ball’ was finished by Cresswell who happened to be running into the right place at the right time.
They were considerably unlucky last week with Romelu Lukaku scoring from a clearly offside position and then conceding the winner when they were well in the ascendency, so it could be evening itself out.
Going into a run which Allardyce has stated will define their season, though, the Hammers would hope they will not need to rely on luck to see them through, especially with key players returning from injury.