West Ham came back from a losing position to win for the first time this season during their visit to the Hawthorns on Tuesday evening.
The Hammers followed up their impressive victory over Newcastle on Saturday with another three points against a struggling West Brom side.
Craig Dawson gave the Baggies the lead after just 10 minutes but Kevin Nolan and James Tomkins both found the net before half-time, which was enough to ensure Sam Allardyce’s team of back-to-back wins.
Here we take a look at five things we learned from the match.
1. HAMMERS HAVE GREAT CHARACTER
To go behind early on in a game away from home is never easy in the Premier League, but it is a testament to this West Ham side that there was a belief they would be able to fight their way back into it.
We have already seen the east London outfit come back from two goals down away at Stoke to earn a point, which took great determination, but the way they responded to going a goal down against West Brom was really impressive.
The goal served as a wake-up call to the side and for the next 35 minutes they played the home side off the park and deservedly turned the game on its head. Needless to say, the West Ham of last season would not have won this match.
2. DOWNING CRUCIAL
Stewart Downing continued to demonstrate his importance to the side with a customary performance of immense quality.
He was kept relatively quiet against Newcastle but at the Hawthorns he was at his most effective again, creating three chances, claiming one assist – for Tomkins winner – completing 32/36 passes and nine crosses.
His delivery and vision is perhaps his most vital attributes, he now has five assists this season, along with two goals. Both stats are already an improvement on his numbers for the whole of the last campaign.
3. GOAL CONTRIBUTION A BIG BOOST
West Ham’s last nine goals have all been scored by different players following Nolan and Tomkins strikes. Last term they often lacked one goalscorer but now everyone is contributing to the cause.
In a period where strikers Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia have been out, too, these goals from other areas of the pitch are pivotal. Aaron Cresswell got the winner at Newcastle – his first goal for the club – while Tomkins’ strike was his first for two years and Nolan’s his first since February.
4. MOMENTUM BUILDING
The Irons have now only lost one game in the last eight and are still about three players away from their best starting XI.
Two wins on the bounce given the circumstances is a fantastic achievement and it is understood they should have Alex Song and Mark Noble back for the visit of Swansea on Sunday, which is a huge boost. Valencia should be fit to start the match, too, after being eased back into the action as a substitute against West Brom.
Allardyce’s side will have the belief to make it three wins in a row for the second time this season after a confidence-boosting away victory, which would tighten their grip on fifth spot.
5. COMBINATION OF OLD AND NEW
It was a performance that highlighted the West Ham of new, with slick, effective football for long periods in the first-half, combined with the West Ham of old, with resounding, if not extremely panicked, defending in the second.
In this tough spell, though, their old habits of being extremely organised and not giving much away could be crucial to picking up points. Away from home against a side that is desperate to get results on the board, playing pretty once in front wouldn’t have been a wise move.
It was mid February last season when West Ham picked up the 24th point. It is December 2nd this time around, this shows just how far they have come, but they still have a long way to go.
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