An eventful evening at Upton Park saw West Ham draw 2-2 with Manchester United, although the Hammers could easily have come away with all 3 points.
West Ham were out of the blocks early, in contrast to Man Utd who were slow to get into their stride as predicted. Andy Carroll was industrious in front of the watching Roy Hodgson, and Matt Jarvis was buzzing down the left hand side putting in some good crosses. In the 17th minute Jarvis turned Rio Ferdinand inside out, and his cross was headed back across goal for Ricardo Vaz Te to nod in West Ham’s opening goal. It was good to see Vaz Te on the scoresheet again after quite a while, He is very much a confidemce player and this performance will have done him the world of good.
After twenty minutes or so Man Utd started to get their game going, and James Collins made a few great tackles to thwart some dangerous attacks. In the 31st minute however, a slick passing move down the left and a cross from Van Persie enabled Kagawa to slip in Valencia to tap in from a couple of yards. It was a fine goal and showed that despite not playing at their best, Man Utd are always dangerous.
Carroll was certainly putting himself about, and Lee Probert, the referee, had to intervene when a spat with Wayne Rooney developed in the Man Utd box while they were awaiting a West Ham free kick. Carroll seemed to kick out at Rooney at one point, although he later claimed that it “just a bit of banter” with the Man Utd forward. Further controvery ensued when the free kick was taken as Carroll chased the aerial ball and collided heavily with de Gea in the Man Utd goal. Alex Ferguson was furious
with the challenge, and later claimed that Carroll should have been sent off. In his defence, Sam Allardyce said that Carroll simply could not stop his momentum and should have received a yellow at worst, even though no card was actually shown.
Carroll was again in the thick of the action later when another aerial tussle with de Gea led to a yellow card for the forward, although it looked like Carroll had done nothing wrong and it was just a case Probert making amends for earlier leniency. Carroll responded some minutes later with a rasping long shot that missed narrowly, and West Ham were giving as good as they got.
In the 55th minute, after some good interchange play down West Ham’s right between Vaz Te and Demel, Mo Diame picked up the ball outside the box and sent a fabulous curling shot around Kevin Nolan and into the corner of the net. Diame has certainly proved his worth this year and is now an integral part of this West Ham side, and Big Sam will do well to hang on to him in the summer.
Man Utd again looked to threaten, and Van Persie’s corner was thumped towards the net by Rooney, only for Gary O’Neil to clear off the line. Van Persie came close shortly after when his bullet header was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
It looked like the Hammers were going to hang on for a famous win, but another Man Utd attack saw Kagawa’s deflected shot rebound off the post into the path of Van Persie, who finished with aplomb. This was hard to bear for West Ham as replays showed that Van Persie was indeed offside by a yard when Kagawa took his shot, and the goal should not have stood. Allardyce was apopleptic afterwards, although his verbal barrage against the officials stopped short of any disciplinary action being taken against him.
All in all, it was a great night for the Hammers. The defence looked rock solid, and Demel contributed well to the attack on many occasions. Gary O’Neil put in another good performance in the middle of the park together with Diame, and up front Vaz Te, Jarvis and Carroll were threat all evening.
Despite the disappointment of conceding the late goal, Allardyce was proud of the whole team, and it showed that on the night and in the right frame of mind, the Hammers are a match for anyone. If the home form can be replicated to the away matches, then a bright future lies ahead for the team.