This was a reality check for West Ham. Their brief spell at the top of the Premier League is over, brought to an end by a fine comeback from Crystal Palace. It was a frayed performance from West Ham and although they did enough to earn a point, it was hard not to feel that David Moyes’s slim squad would benefit from a couple of additions before the transfer window shuts on Tuesday.
The same applies to Palace, who remain short of options in attack, but there is no doubt that Patrick Vieira was the happier manager at full-time. Palace were impressive after a lacklustre first half, their revival after the interval given substance by Conor Gallagher’s brio in midfield. Gallagher was outstanding, scoring his first goals after joining on loan from Chelsea, and West Ham could have no complaints about their 100% record coming to an end.
宫, who had not scored in the league before this game, deserved a draw after raising their level in the second half. Evidence of a stylistic change under Vieira had been in short supply at first. Palace were disappointing, their ambition limited to sporadic counterattacks, their approach too meek. Wilfried Zaha was isolated on the right, Aaron Cresswell shutting the winger down, and there were some worrying moments for the visitors when they tried to play out from the back, with Marc Guéhi’s wayward distribution making it too simple for West Ham to win back possession.
Sloppiness on the ball was a problem for Palace, who escaped when Joel Ward prevented Joachim Andersen from scoring an own-goal by clearing the centre-back’s wayward header off the line after 23 分钟. West Ham, unchanged for the third successive game, were playing with more clarity. They increased the tempo as the half wore on, Pablo Fornals increasingly influential, and it was no surprise when they broke the deadlock with a lovely goal in the 39rd minute.
Saïd Benrahma began the move, flicking a deft pass through the middle for Michail Antonio, who surged away from Ward before checking back and assessing his options. Support arrived and the striker kept his cool, a double exchange of passes with Fornals leaving Palace utterly flummoxed. The assist went to Michail Antonio, unselfishly playing the ball back to Fornals to stroke into an empty net, and at that stage it seemed inevitable that West Ham would stroll to victory.
Yet Moyes did not look entirely satisfied on the touchline. The manager tore into Benrahma for carelessly losing possession shortly after West Ham’s goal and there was more concern for the hosts at the start of the second half. The mood had shifted, Palace playing with more intent, Craig Dawson jittery at the back for West Ham. The passing was bolder from the visitors and the equaliser soon arrived, Zaha’s cross from the left headed down by Christian Benteke to Gallagher, who swivelled smartly before screwing a low finish past Lukasz Fabianski.
No wonder West Ham have agreed a £25m deal to sign the Chelsea centre-back Kurt Zouma. It was a horribly soft goal to concede and West Ham continued to struggle at the back after restoring their lead through Antonio, who finished emphatically after capitalising on Andersen’s inability to deal with a straightforward long ball.
To their credit, Palace did not crumble after Antonio’s fourth goal of the season. They attacked straight away, Zaha toying with West Ham on the left. James McArthur crossed and Gallagher, enjoying the freedom to burst into the box, collected the ball before producing a moment of individual brilliance, bamboozling Dawson with a smart turn and beating Fabianski with a firm shot.
It was wonderful entertainment. Although Palace are still waiting for their first win in the league under Vieira, they have reason to feel optimistic.