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West Ham United draw with Stoke City thanks to double save from Adrián
Jacob Steinberg at Upton Park
Date Published Saturday 12 December 2015 17.19 GMT
West Ham United and Stoke City had compelling reasons to feel quietly optimistic after an entertaining goalless draw that left the Upton Park crowd in a surprisingly content mood. A stalemate in this fixture would have been a cure for insomnia in the past, but here was further evidence their respective cultural evolutions could bring both sides success.
The length of West Ham’s injury list made this an acceptable point for Slaven Bilic. Although they have not won since beating Chelsea 2-1 on 24 October, a winless run that was stretched to six matches after a draw that kept them a point above Stoke, their makeshift side was applauded off after a commendable effort against opponents who threatened to turn the game into an ordeal.
For Stoke, it was a missed opportunity after their 2-0 victory over Manchester City. They fluffed a couple of glorious chances in the first half and West Ham were indebted to Adrián for making two late saves to deny Mame Biram Diouf.
“I think, as 0-0 goes, there was plenty of incident,” Mark Hughes said. The Stoke manager added: “We’ll look back at the end of the season and think it was a decent point.”
Bilic agreed. “Both teams defended really well,” West Ham’s manager said. “It was a very good game. With a little bit of luck we could have won this game.”
West Ham certainly had their moments as the match wore on, while Stoke bristled with intent during the opening 30 minutes. There was a swagger to their play and West Ham’s defence looked vulnerable without the injured Winston Reid.
Ibrahim Afellay started instead of the injured Xherdan Shaqiri on the right, and he created three chances in the space of a couple of minutes. Afellay’s best days might be behind him at the age of 29, but his neat footwork was a joy to watch during the first half and Stoke’s threat faded once West Ham had a read on him.
The first flash of Afellay’s class almost led to Marco van Ginkel scoring the opener, only for the midfielder to catch Adrián in the midriff with his studs. Afellay then forced the West Ham goalkeeper to save with his feet and the flurry ended with Van Ginkel wastefully dragging his shot wide from close range.
Mauro Zárate was failing to protect Aaron Cresswell. Glen Johnson burst into the area and Marko Arnautovic, who later hit the bar with a deflected free-kick, stabbed wide from six yards out.
Without the injured Manuel Lanzini, Victor Moses, Dimitri Payet and Diafra Sakho, West Ham found it tough to create chances against opponents who have kept seven clean sheets in their past nine matches. Andy Carroll was engaged in a futile wrestling match with Shawcross. Michail Antonio was willing on his full debut, ramming one volley straight at Jack Butland, but Zárate was largely ineffective in the areas that mattered.
Bilic and Hughes made positive substitutions in the second half. West Ham were boosted by the return of Enner Valencia from an ankle injury, while Stoke’s attack was given a more robust look by the introduction of Diouf.
Bojan Krkic had been snuffed out in his central role for Stoke and Hughes’s tweaks would have paid off if Diouf’s finishing had been more incisive. His misses nearly proved costly when Zárate crashed a shot against the left post, before Butland pushed Valencia’s swerving free-kick over.
Cheikhou Kouyaté and James Tomkins had efforts cleared off the line in the fourth minute of stoppage time, but it was a match when the teams cancelled each other out with their lack of ruthlessness.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE FROM UPTON PARK
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Adrian 7.5; Tomkins 7, Collins 7, Ogbonna 7, Cresswell 7.5; Song 6 (Valencia 64 6), Noble 6.5; Antonio 6.5 (Jelavic 83), Kouyate 7, Zarate 7.5; Carroll 7
Subs not used: Randolph, Jenkinson, Obiang, Oxford, Cullen
Manager: Slaven Bilic 6
Stoke (4-3-3): Butland 8; Johnson 7, Shawcross 7, Wollscheid 7, Pieters 7; Cameron 6.5 (Adam 68 6), Wehelan 6, Van Ginkel 5 (Diouf 56 6); Afellay 7.5 (Walters 66), Bojan 7, Arnautovic 7
Subs not used: Haugaard, Bardsley, Joselu, Wilson
Manager: Mark Hughes 7.5
Referee: Andre Marriner
Stadium: Upton Park