West Ham trump Middlesbrough

That wasn’t as comfortable as it could have been.

But you can’t argue with a 3-1 away win at Middlesbrough.

Injuries to Andy Carroll and Mark Noble put West Ham on the back foot in the second half, and with James Collins coming on to create a back five you knew we were only going to be sitting back and holding on for the 2-1 win, especially after Manuel Lanzini fluffed what could have been a replica of his goal against Palace.

In the end 3-1 flattered us, but credit for the defensive display.

Bro didn’t show much creativity but there were a couple of moments where they could have pegged us back for the second time. 

West Ham had been very quick out of the blocks and Michail Antonio nearly gave us an early lead, but in the end two goals from Carroll put us in charge.

The first was a typically powerful header from a corner, but that was cancelled out by Cristhian Stuani.

Carroll’s second was a sharp piece of poaching after an Antonio shot was spilled. 

After Carroll and Noble limped off West Ham seemed happy to sit back and rely on breakaways, and there was a heart-in-mouth moment when Aaron Cresswell popped a clearance onto the bar.

We enjoyed an unexpected bonus in stoppage time when Jonathan Calleri steered the ball home via a deflection.

Three points at Boro? Please don’t let this new-found confidence come back to bite West Ham

Amazing how things change at West Ham. I guess we should be used to it.

A few weeks ago it was hard to see where the next win was coming.

Now anything less that three points at Middlesbrough will be a disappointment, if we can get over the niggles and put out our best side. Agree?

So what has changed?

  • Andy Carroll is fit. Well, he was. When I heard about the whiplash injury I thought initially he must have been in an accident. Then the focus switched to the overhead kick, and finally I wondered if the goal celebrations had anything to do with it. The fact that we have a striker who knows where the goal is and is showing confidence in front of it makes such a huge difference.
  • We have a right back emerging. Whether Sam Byram can cement that position remains to be seen but as DevoDevo mentions, the lad has attitude, and we like that in our players. He’s also pretty handy and it was a bigger blow than we might have appreciated when he went out injured in the earlier game against Middlesbrough.
  • The atmosphere has visibly lifted now that P*y*t’s grumblings are no longer being kept under wraps. What a relief to have that out in the open and whatever the outcome it was like a huge boil being lanced. The relief is palpable. As has been quoted many times over the past week, we lost a player but gained a team.

Michail Antonio’s perfect record with headers for West Ham

Michail Antonio

I’m not a big fans of stats.

Maybe it’s because I’m rubbish at maths.

I used to try and hide behind the person in front of me in class so that the maths teacher wouldn’t ask me to answer a question.

But he always did, because he knew I’d get it wrong. Why are all maths teachers sadists? (Sorry, Headmaster, hope that’s not your subject).

So I’m not overly excited by the stuff Opta come out with.

Football is such a simple, beautiful game, so why spoil it by making it about statistics?

The one thing statistics cannot measure is the entertainment I take away from a match.

It doesn’t have to be a goal, a pass or a tackle.

It’s easy enough to measure those, of course.

But I take great pleasure in watching what players are doing off the ball.

While there’s a move down the left wing, I’ll be looking back to midfield to see who’s tracking back and getting in the face of the opposition player making a break for the edge of the box.

If I can see a ball drifting aimlessly towards the goalkeeper I’m interested to see who’s getting into position ready for the throw out, the second ball, and even the third.

What runs are people making to take a defender out of position?

You get where I’m going with this.

So not all player contributions get measured and recorded.