A game of many twists and turns came to a stalemate as the Hammers and Cherries gave it their all on the South Coast. Both of these sides had started the season brightly and would have loved to have asserted dominance over the other, but ultimately the two cancelled each other out as their quests for the Europa League roll on.
Injury blow between the sticks
A major concern for Hammers fans will be the loss of Lukasz Fabianski, who left the field injured in the 34thminute. No comment has been made on the severity, though an extended absence for last year’s Hammer of the Year would be devastating for Manuel Pellegrini.
Fabianski was instrumental to the Hammers’ top-half finish this season and his outstanding form has continued into the new campaign, having kept three clean sheets in a row prior to today’s fixture. This season he has averaged just under three saves per game, many of them crucial to the Hammers’ recent hot streak. His shot-stopping abilities are crucial for a side keen to play on the front foot and not commit too many bodies back in defence.
Substitute ‘keeper Roberto was brought on to see out the final hour and looked out of his depth in comparison to Fabianski. The Spanish stopper started in the Hammer’s 4-0 Carabao Cup defeat to League One’s Oxford United - neither of these performances have done him any favours in his battle for the starting goalkeeper spot. Pellegrini may well call on the services of third-choice David Martin if Roberto is unable to find his groove as Fabianski’s understudy.
Haller stands tall
Sebastien Haller did not get his name on the scoresheet today, but his intelligent reading of the game and link-up abilities more than made up for it. Far from just an out-and-out goalscorer, the Frenchman possesses qualities that would make him a valuable asset for any Premier League side, and this culminated in another brilliant performance today.
Haller possesses both the strength and intelligence to make an impact at England’s top level. He is capable of disrupting defensive lines and holding the ball up for his side when under pressure and sports a keen eye for space in dangerous areas. Haller won 9 aerial duels today, more than any other player on the field, and supported his team-mates with plenty of movement and passes into space. His efforts were rewarded with an assist for Andriy Yarmolenko, who powered home a left-footed shot following an excellent touch and turn from the centre-forward.
£45m is a steep fee for a side outside of the top 6, but so far Haller’s arrival is paying dividends very early on. His transfer has greatly benefited the rest of West Ham’s offensive unit, with the likes of Yarmolenko, Felipe Anderson and Manuel Lanzini all feeding off of his support. The Hammers have been crying out for a complete striker for the best part of a decade and they may well have finally found their man for seasons to come.
Leaky defences cost both sides dear
Neither West Ham nor Bournemouth are known for their defensive prowess, and a high-scoring game was always likely to be the outcome. West Ham had been lucky to concede so few goals so far this season, and clinical finishing from the Cherries showed that they still have plenty to work on at the back. Meanwhile, Bournemouth have conceded twelve goals this campaign, more than the likes of Newcastle, Brighton and Aston Villa.
Looking at West Ham’s underlying statistics (courtesy of Understat), there is a clear gulf between the number of goals they were expected to concede from their opponent’s chances (14.05) and their actual number of goals conceded (9). Recent opponents such as Villa and Manchester United were able to craft goalscoring opportunities against West Ham but were simply unable to finish them. This indicates that the Hammers have been somewhat lucky not to have conceded more throughout the current campaign.
30 shots were taken between the two sides with West Ham recording the majority (17), however it is arguable that Bournemouth’s opportunities were higher in quality. Whilst West Ham preferred to strike form distance (6 shots from outside the box), the Cherries’ intricate build-up play left West Ham’s defence with plenty on their hands. Both Callum Wilson and Joshua King were on target inside the penalty area, and this could have been more, as indicated by their expected goal total (2.32 xG).