Maybe so, but a thoroughly entertaining game with two very committed teams, that could have gone either way.
Stoke took the lead in the 13th minute with a very well worked corner routine that saw Jon Walters pull off of George McCartney, his marker at the back post, and with the help of a Charlie Adam block, Walters found himself free at the front post to sweep home the game’s opening goal with an excellent right footed finish.
West Ham struggled to get into the game for large parts of the first half and nearly found themselves further behind after an N’Zonzi effort came crashing back off the underside of the bar past the beaten home GK.
Tony Pulis said in his post game interview:
The worst thing that happened to us was half-time. That took the momentum away from us. We started very sloppy in the second half, we invited West Ham onto us and they scored a goal and from that point onwards we need to show a lot of resilience and determination.
And Pulis was right, within a minute of the restart Kevin Nolan should have got West Ham level but for a miraculous save from close range from Begovic but just a minute later a Diame burst into the Stoke final third find Gary O’ Neil who delivered an excellent cross for Joey O’Brien to equalize.
It was the West Ham width though that caused Stoke the majority of problems throughout the evening. The McCartney/Maiga combination on the left, with the additional support of both Kevin Nolan and Diame was looking like more and more of West Ham’s best chance to find a winning goal.
McCartney’s 85% pass completion ( 46 out 54 completed ) was impressive but his haul of 29 out of 41 passes completed ( 77% ) in the Stoke half of the pitch was the most accurate attacking half passes by any player on the pitch and McCartney and Maiga created three chances from open play for the Hammers.
On the right hand side, Gary O’Neil and Joey O’Brien were just as effective if not more so with the O’Neil > O’Brien combination combining for the West Ham goal.
O’Brien had a pass completion % of 87% ( 26 out of 30 ) and O’Neil had 85% ( 33 out of 39 ).
The West Ham right side also created 3 chances from open play, with O’Neil also creating a chance from open play.
The winning goal unfortunately never came for the Hammers whose only gripe of the game may have been the actual delivery into Andy Carroll, Carroll’s all round play was as per usual very good with a total of 8 defensive clearances but as we can see for the below grpah and for all of West Ham’s good wide play, Allardyce will want to get better service into his front man when the Hammers travel to White Hart Lane this coming Sunday.
In what was billed as the battle of the Long Ball teams, some excellent football was on display by both sides and the Long Ball statistics were not as some would have thought.
West Ham made 430 passes, with 63 being Long Balls of over 25 yards = 14.6% of passes being Long Balls.
Stoke made 327 passes with 57 being Long Balls of over 25 yards = 17.4% of passes being Long Balls.
A point was a fair result and there was plenty of positives to come out of the game for both teams but with a very tough run of fixtures to come now in the run up to Christmas for West Ham, it’s no wonder that Sam Allardyce felt that it was possibly points dropped for the Hammers.
“I thought we deserved three points in the end. Stoke were slightly better than us in the first half and we had to recover from what was an extremely good goal. Having to come from 1-0 down in any game in the Premier League is difficult. It’s another point on the board, we move on reasonably happy. Andy Carroll is not to be frustrated by the fact that he is not scoring at the moment and in fact today he didn’t get much of a chance to score. He wants to score a goal and he wants me to leave him on for 90 minutes but at the end of the day he put that much effort in, there are a lot of fresh players on the bench.”
Roll on Tottenham.
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