|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Gareth Barry equals record as West Bromwich Albion and West Ham draw
Jacob Steinberg at The Hawthorns
Date Published Saturday 16 September 2017 17.11 BST
The ironic cheers sparked by the home side belatedly deciding to see if Joe Hart was still awake encapsulated why West Bromwich Albion supporters sometimes wonder if life might be more thrilling without Tony Pulis in the dugout.
Loud boos greeted that minor show of mutiny when the final whistle put everyone out of their misery, and it hardly reflected well on West Brom that Hal Robson-Kanu’s tame header was one of their better openings on an afternoon when Gareth Barry equalling Ryan Giggs’s record of 632 Premier League appearances stood out as a memorable talking point. It is doubtful Barry has played in a duller game.
At least West Ham United were reasonably satisfied with a goalless draw, albeit frustrated not to have capitalised on West Brom’s lack of ambition. While the visitors did not create much either, Slaven Bilic could point to a second consecutive clean sheet as evidence he knows what he is doing after weeks of speculation about his future.
“It hasn’t been a great game of football, but we limited them,” Bilic said. “To get more, the quality in the last third was missing. But a clean sheet and a point away, you can’t be too negative. We won’t be raving about this game, but this week has been good.”
Bilic stuck with the players who ground out that ugly win over Huddersfield on Monday, using a tight 3-4-3 system that suited West Ham’s slow defence. The pressure on Bilic has forced him to be more pragmatic, but his willingness to defend in large numbers against opponents as unadventurous as West Brom created a grim spectacle. “You’re best off talking about Gareth,” Pulis said.
Neither team treated the ball with sufficient care, mustering one shot on target apiece. West Brom had an early chance after Pedro Obiang’s slip allowed Chris Brunt to wriggle clear on the right, only for Winston Reid to throw himself in front of Kieran Gibbs’s goalbound volley. Barry headed just over from the corner.
Yet the hosts were cautious after last week’s defeat at Brighton, leaving Jay Rodriguez isolated up front. It was a shapeless mess and, for all their commitment, West Ham missed Manuel Lanzini’s creativity. Their unbalanced attack relied too much on isolated bursts from Michail Antonio, Javier Hernández toiled in an unfamiliar wide role, and there were too many long balls to Andy Carroll. Their best moment came out of the blue, Obiang hitting the bar with an audacious attempt to catch Ben Foster off his line from long range.
Bilic responded positively when James Collins went off with an ankle injury in the second half, replacing the centre-back with Marko Arnautovic, and West Ham provided a rare spot of excitement when Carroll’s flick sent Hernández through. Foster hurtled out of his area and tripped the Mexican. With two West Brom defenders covering the goalkeeper, though, it was a yellow card and the free-kick came to nothing, much like the game as a whole.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, PLAYERS RATINGS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
WEST BROM (4-2-3-1):Foster 6; Dawson 6.5, Hegazi 7, Evans 7, Gibbs 6.5 (Nyom 84'); Krychowiak 7.5, Barry 6.5; Brunt 6.5 (Robson-Kanu 72' 6), Morrison 6.5, Phillips 7 (McClean 76'); Rodriguez 5
SUBS NOT USED: Myhill, McAuley, Yacob, Rondon
BOOKINGS: Foster (66), McClean (83)
MANAGER: Tony Pulis 6
WEST HAM (3-4-2-1): Hart 6.5; Fonte 6, Reid 7, Collins 6.5 (Arnautovic 58' 6); Zabaleta 6, Obiang 7, Kouyate 6.5, Cresswell 6; Antonio 7, Hernandez 6.5 (Ayew 76'); Carroll 6 (Sakho 82')
SUBS NOT USED: Adrian, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Rice
BOOKINGS: Foster (66), McClean (83)
MANAGER: Slaven Bilic 6
REF: Paul Tierney 7