With two games played and zero goals scored at the time of writing, it’s been a bit of a stuttering start for West Ham United. While the 2-0 opening-day loss to Manchester City wasn’t much to be overly concerned about, the subsequent 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest was of greater significance. On an afternoon where nothing went West Ham’s way, they made the trip back to London with nothing to show for their efforts.
Saïd Benrahma had the ball in the back of the net midway through the first half, but the goal was disallowed due to an off-the-ball push on Forest’s Orel Mangala by Michail Antonio. Soon after, Forest struck, as Taiwo Awoniyi notched his first goal for the club. There was an element of fortune about the way the ball ricocheted into the net off the former Liverpool man — yet another reason for West Ham to feel aggrieved.
The Hammers’ bad luck continued into the second half, as both Pablo Fornals and Benrahma struck the woodwork, with the ball bouncing agonisingly on the line on each occasion. West Ham thought they had finally found a route back into the match when a penalty was awarded for a handball by Scott McKenna. Declan Rice stepped up confidently, but his spot-kick was saved by Dean Henderson.
All in all, it was an afternoon to forget for West Ham, who were pre-match favourites in the betting Premier League market.
“We are really frustrated,” Moyes admitted after the match. “We haven’t scored many in pre-season so that was a glimpse of that today. The first 20 minutes frustrated me, I thought we were really poor. But I thought we grew into the game. We didn’t deserve the result we got, that is for sure. “The decisions today didn’t go our way. We can’t blame the officials all the time but we’re certainly coming away from here feeling like we should have had much more. In the end we did enough [to get something from the game].”
So, what next for West Ham? Well, it’s important that they put the two results so far this season into context. They performed reasonably well for periods against Manchester City, but it was always likely that the champions’ quality would tell in the end. When all’s said and done, results against City won’t go too far in determining whether this season is a success or failure for West Ham.
Then you have the Forest game, where it must be said that on any other day, Moyes’ men would probably have gone away with three points in their pocket. Sometimes it just isn’t your day, and the team’s frustration stemmed from the fact they felt hard-done-by after controlling the game for a significant portion of the 90 minutes.
It’s clear that the Hammers are in need of a bit of a spark though. The last couple of years have seen the team perform admirably, and last season’s run to the Europa League semi-finals was hugely exciting for players and supporters alike. It’s perhaps understandable that there is a bit of a lull at the beginning of this campaign, and it’s up to Moyes to get his team firing on all cylinders once again.