Despite a strong start to the season, West Ham United settled for a draw against a battling Crystal Palace side. The Eagles came to the London Stadium without a point or a goal scored under new manager Patrick Vieira in the Premier League. This differed quite dramatically from the start The Hammers had, with the East London team unbeaten in 12 games, and scoring a total of eight goals in the Premier League so far.
According to the bookies, West Ham were considered overwhelming favourites at 20/33 with MansionBet. A draw, however, was set at odds of 16/5 by SkyBet. In the last five games played between the two, two games have been drawn, two games have been won by Palace, and one game had been by West Ham. As far as the recent head-to-head goes, the match was expected to be tight.
The Hammers continued their previous run of good form in the first half of the match, with Pablo Fornals breaking the deadline just before the break with a fantastic team goal. Talking about the goal to whufc.com, manager David Moyes said:
"The goal was terrific – good patience, we waited on the right moment to get the ball in the net, so I was pleased with that.
I thought there were other chances in the first half when we came close to getting a second goal, we just weren’t quite on it in the final third. We weren’t quite as on it the whole game – not as much as we have been in recent matches."
"We want to be greedy and we always want to try and get the three points.
We can look at the positives. There were lots of good things about the team and I’m relatively pleased with a lot of things the players tried.
We wanted to play well, and we didn’t play well in the second half today, but overall I’m pleased that we’ve taken something away from the game."
Antonio should have pushed for more
After smashing the West Ham record book last week, Michail Antonio continued to improve his goalscoring record, with another one scored against The Eagles this week. Despite the league's current top scorer, Moyes believed that there was more the new No.9 could have done throughout the game, as he told whufc.com:
"I didn’t think it was Michail Antonio’s best game but when your striker scores a goal, I think it can make a big difference.
He had an assist in the first [goal] too. A lot of that was good, but there were other parts of the game I’d have liked for Mich to have done better."
Antonio's link-up play continues to impress, and his vision to have picked out Fornals for the first goal was excellent. He was unlucky to have not found Said Benrahma at the end of his pass at the closing stages of the game, as West Ham could have finished the game off once and for all.
Michail Antonio had more shots (5) and created more chances (4) than any other West Ham player against Crystal Palace.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 28, 2021
And he bagged his 50th Premier League goal for West Ham. pic.twitter.com/kBQTei75ZF
Woeful defending cost West Ham the game
Throughout the summer, Moyes has highlighted the defence as an area that requires transfer additions - especially with a season of European football. After the potential move for Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic fell through, the Hammers manager was fast to reignite interest in Chelsea's Kurt Zouma. After overcoming plenty of bumps in the road, The Hammers signed Zouma for an undisclosed fee on a four-year deal and was announced after the Palace game. The signing is the first permanent of the summer transfer window and is a much-needed addition to West Ham's backline. Angelo Ogbonna and Craig Dawson struggled to work in harmony against the Palace attackers, with two mistakes from former Watford man Dawson. The addition of Zouma would see the experience from a World Cup, Champions League and Super Cup winner.
West Ham United (@WestHam) August 28, 2021
Still, time to bring in more players
In the last 6 minutes of the game, Moyes brought on Andriy Yarmolenko. This isn't a game-changing substitution for The Hammers but was the only attacking threat left on the bench. In the few remaining days of the transfer window, it is vital that West Ham can bring in two or three more attacking options, as squad depth is limited at the moment. The Hammers have been linked with Nikola Vlasic, Jesse Lingard, and potential loan moves for Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. These additions will be beneficial to the squad when European football comes around, as all have experienced the competition, and can provide even more quality for the first team.
West Ham (@UberWestHam) August 29, 2021
A word on the opposition
Crystal Palace deserve a lot of credit for their second-half performance against The Hammers. Despite having no points or goals scored under new manager Vieira, they continued to defend well, and apply pressure when they could in the first half. The Eagles came out truly battling in the second half, with star player Gallagher not only scoring goals but causing problems for The Hammers defence. It can be well-argued that the visitors deserved the point, for the character and fight they showed to maintain level with the East London side.
The statistics were evenly balanced between the two teams, however, Palace held 54.3% worth of possession as well as more touches (682), and more passes (462). However, The Hammers held more shots (14), more shots on target (4) and more corners (5). The home team's attacking threat was further highlighted through the statistics, as Palace had more clearances (32), one of which was off the goal-line.
Furthermore, West Ham has a fantastic record when playing games at home, and with the fans allowed back into the stadium, it only increases the difficulty for Palace to have come away with a result.
#WestHam and #LCFC very sportingly both unchanged from opening-day wins.— Ron Walker (@ronnabe) August 23, 2021
The hosts' first game in front of a sizeable home crowd in 541 days. They had the second-best home record last season in an empty London Stadium - how will they get on now fans are back?