Allen Cummings VIRTUALLY at the London Stadium
Hammers 3 Burnley 0
It was the clash of the claret and blues at the London Stadium when Burnley came to town for a 3pm Saturday afternoon kick off – a novelty in itself.
Our 3-0 defeat at Turf Moor earlier in the season – a tepid surrender of the points that day – was a particular low point for the Hammers. David Moyes was looking for a much improved showing this time.
Good news for the manager was the return from injury of Declan Rice, but with Pablo Fornals still sidelined, Robert Snodgrass kept his place on the left of midfield, meaning Mark Noble found himself back on the bench.
Chris Woods has been a constant thorn in the Hammers side in recent seasons, scoring in each of the last five meetings between the two sides. So the message to Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna was clear – stop Woods and the chances are we will stop Burnley.
It was a tentative start to the game, Sean Dyche had clearly set-up his side to give little away, as is the Burnley way. Jarrod Bowen was again looking lively, and Michail Antonio had one typically surging, direct run and shot that was well save by ‘keeper Nick Pope.
West Ham needed a goal to force the Clarets out of their defensive shell, and the breakthrough came in the 25th minute from an unlikely source. Snoddy took a corner on the right which was only half cleared – the ball coming out to acting skipper Aaron Cresswell, who steadied himself before lashing his left foot shot through a crowed area and into the net.
The goal lifted some of the tension that was building in the ground and West Ham began to play quicker and with more purpose. But a second score still eluded the Hammers at the break.
Burnley began the second half with more attacking intent, but public enemy No. 1 Chris Woods was being well-marshalled and his frustration was showing. That became even more apparent when a Woods’ mistake gave the ball away to Antonio, who drove at the visitors’ defence with pace, before releasing the ball at the perfect time to Sebastien Haller, whose perfectly placed shot left Pope floundering.
Two minutes later and the game was settled beyond doubt when Bowen skipped past two tackles before cutting inside from the left and unleashing a shot that was past Pope before he could move. Revenge was complete.
At the final whistle the giant London Stadium scoreboard showed West Ham 3 Burnley 0. Three more vital points to take West Ham’s total to the magical 38 for the season.
Not a guarantee for survival, but a figure that had been good enough to maintain Premier League status over the past 10 seasons – and there are still four games to play.