West Brom vs. Wolves
Today’s first Premier League offer of action ended all over the place in the Black Country Derby as Fabio Silva’s opener was called off by Mbaye Diagne, in a game played in big party in torrential weather conditions at The Hawthorns.
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo made three changes after last week’s 4-0 strike against Burnley, as Vitinha, Fabio Silva and Owen Otasowie stepped in to replace Daniel Podence, Willian Jose and Willy Boly. West Brom made the only change when Dara O’Shea replaced Callum Robinson.
Baggies boss Sam Allardyce has faced Wolves unbeaten more times than any other team in their Premier League career, playing them six times without losing. Earlier this season, West Brom emerged victorious at Molineux with a 3-2 victory thanks to a brace from Matheus Pereira and a winner courtesy of Semi Ajayi.
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The game started quite slowly and the first chance came after 30 minutes when Nelson Semedo picked up Ajayi’s pocket just outside the box and forced Sam Johnstone to make a save. Oddly, Allardyce made a first-half substitution as O’Shea was replaced by Matt Phillips in what looked like a change of form from a back three to a back four.
The baggies started to dominate the game after the early substitution, and they almost took the lead only for Mbaye Diagne to have a point blank effort blocked on the line by Romain Saiss. However, a minute before the whistle at half-time, Wolves took the lead by Fabio Silva after a game of liquid accumulation. Otasowie moved to the right side and found Vitinha who pushed the ball back into Semedo. He lost possession in the box but Kyle Bartley’s clearance ricocheted rather fortuitously on Silva who buckled on Johnstone in the back of the net. A bad goal for the local team to concede just before half-time.
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Ten minutes after the start of the second half, Albion should have equalized. Phillips takes over Semedo on the left and squeezed a cross on Connor Gallagher who has almost half the goal to go, but Rui Patricio passes quickly to kick the ball out of harm’s way.
West Brom then got his equalizer and you can’t say he didn’t deserve it. Connor Townsend picked up the ball on the left and crossed to the back post where Diagne was waiting and headed powerfully through the goal in the bottom corner.
In the final minutes, conditions worsened with rain pouring down on the Hawthorns. This made the odds harder to find as the ball struggled to move across the swampy surface. The 1-1 result means the baggies are now ten points behind Newcastle in 17th position and Wolves remain 12th with 42 points.
Burnley vs. West Ham
The Hammers held firm to win 2-1 over Burnley at Turf Moor, as Michail Antonio’s brace sealed all three points for David Moyes’ side.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche unsurprisingly named an unchanged team after their 4-0 victory at Wolves Last week. Hammers boss Moyes once again welcomed two key players to Aaron Cresswell and Antonio, both of whom were sidelined with injuries.
West Ham started off brilliantly but the home side had a golden opportunity when they got a penalty after 16 minutes. Hammers midfielder Tomas Soucek issued an awkward challenge to Chris Wood who won and then converted the kick to continue his fine form, after scoring a hat-trick against Wolves last week.
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West Ham immediately hit back with the return of Michail Antonio to mark his eighth of the season. Vladimir Coufal’s cross from the right was directed towards Antonio who intimidated defenders with the ball and rose above them to head the ball past Nick Pope to tie the score at 1-1 .
Antonio got his second before the half hour to put the hammers forward. This time it was Said Benrahma who whipped up a left cross with rhythm on goal, which was greeted by a glance from Antonio in the far corner that Pope couldn’t do anything about. Minutes later, Benrahma nearly scored a goal for himself, whose effort went just inches from the far post with Antonio also throwing himself on the ball, which was simply unable to get through to the end.
The game was shaping up to be a thriller with both teams playing attacking football and chances being created at both ends. This time, it was Burnley’s turn to get closer as Craig Dawson released an effort off the line from Matej Vydra who almost caught the hammers when he threw himself on an Issa Diop error.
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West Ham dominated early in the second half with their forwards wreaking havoc on Burnley’s defense. The bonding game between Antonio, Jesse Lingard and Benrahma was proving to be very dangerous and Burnley could not cope with it.
Dyche decided to bring in Jay Rodriguez to try and get something out of the game and it almost had an immediate impact. After a bit of scrambling in the mouth of the goal, the ball finally fell to Rodriguez just four yards away and he scuffed his effort away from the post. A rare chance wasted could turn out to be costly.
The home team put the pressure on towards the end of the game and Pope was called into a late turn and was almost finished. However, the late pressure was not enough to equalize and West Ham kept their lead and closed the gap to Chelsea to three points, thus keeping their lead. Champions League living dream.