A good victory for Crystal Palace, but a nightmare result for the Hammers from a display that simply wasn’t good enough.
The volume was turned up at Selhurst Park for Tony Pulis’ first home game for ” Mission Impossible ” and he would have targeted three points from a toothless West Ham side who have found both goals and points on the road very hard to come by now, for the last 18 months.
Sam Allardyce’s team selection saw the inclusion of Carlton Cole after making his home debut and scoring the crucial second goal in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Fulham and a return to the side for both Razvan Rat and Ravel Morrison.
Palace started the game on the front foot and attacked predominantly down the right hand side, trying to exploit the Romanian Captain’s willingness to get forward and maybe capitalize on a lack of fitness after he just returned from an injury in the 2014 World Cup Qualifying second leg in Bucharest.
The game lacked any real composure in the opening 20 minutes but West Ham did finally start to get a grip of the game as the half wore on and started to create chances.
With Mark Noble pulling the strings as usual ( completing a game high 64/74 passes and having a game high 84 touches of the ball, creating 3 chances ), West Ham looked to Stuart Downing as their main creative threat and Downing whipped in some fabulous crosses in the first half and gave Dean Moxey a torrid time, creating 2 chances and making 10 crosses in the first half.
It was Palace who struck first however after Joey O’Brien left Marouanne Chamakh completely unmarked after an initial corner got cleared only as far as Barry Bannan who dropped a pin point cross on to Chamakh’s head from 5 yards out with Jussi Jaaskelainan nowhere to be seen.
It was the Morrocan’s second goal of the season and was enough to see Palace go into the half time break with a lead that came somewhat against the run of play at the time.
The Hammers had a well worked free kick come to nothing after Kevin Nolan got his volley all wrong and a Mo Diame ( 2 shots off target, 20/26 passes completed and created 1 chance ) header sail over the bar from a Downing cross from 8 yards out.
Sam Allardyce waited until the 55th minute to make a double change that saw the Captain Kevin Nolan ( completed 19/27 passes and created 1 chance ) and Carlton Cole ( had a header blocked and created 1 chance ) replaced by Joe Coe and Modibo Maiga.
It was the personnel and team shape that many West Ham fans had been craving, Ravel Morrison behind a striker with Joe Cole moving inside from wide positions but the move never came off at all.
What was prominent however was the lack of options that Noble had ahead of him, with his forward passing season average of 40% dropping down to 30% in this game.
Palace grew in confidence in the second half and actually looked the side more likely to score a second goal although questions will be asked of the Linesman’s decision to disallow a Stuart Downing strike after Joey O’Brien was flagged for a foul in the initial cross.
Joe Cole especially failed to produce any type of creativity in his 35 minutes on the pitch, he completed 8/9 passes, never created a single chance and was largely anonymous in the remainder of the game.
Modibo Maiga won 5/7 aerial duels but rarely had a runner from midfield to read any of them.
The Hammers finished up having just the 2 shots on target in a game that they dominated the ball, having nearly 63% of the possession but lacked any type of real cutting edge, and not for the first time this season.
Ravel Morrison ( completed 42/47 passes, created 1 chance ) tried in vain to release the Hammers wide players but it was a very frustrating night for West Ham and a terrible result.
Palace and Pulis will be buoyed however and will fully believe they have enough to stay in the division.
It remains to be seen if West Ham will however with such a feeble lack of fire power ( 3 away goals in 7 away games in 2013/14 ) and injuries to key players such as Winston Reid.
Full credit to Palace for a good home win.