By Gursimran Hans
West Ham and Crystal Palace cancelled one another out as they played out a 1-1 draw on a cold January evening.
Indeed, both teams played well in spells and were both let down by poor decision making.
Hammers fan will be impressed by the form of Joao Mario on his first start, showing calmness on the ball and the intelligence to know when to press and when to stand off.
The returning Sam Byram put in one of his best games in the shirt, while Cheikou Kouyate and Mark Noble were back to their best in midfield. Pablo Zabaleta was moved into defensive midfield and performed very well.
Hernandez too, seemed to take a leaf out of Mario’s book and if not for a fantastic goal saving tackle from James Tomkins would have given the Hammers a lead.
The own crowd grew irksome as Cresswell’s crosses were overhit on multiple occasions, which was made worse when Andros Townsend showed him who it was down with a chipped cross for Christian Benteke to head home and give Palace the lead.
Bakary Sako meanwhile was clattered around the halfway line, the crowd believed he had the most of it and we further enraged when he sat down on the floor after being allowed back on, before being subbed off for Yohan Cabaye.
Good link up play with Mario and Hernandez won a penalty, which was slotted in from Mark Noble. A goal bound volley from Cresswell was blocked. Crystal Palace wasted a good headed chance from James McArthur and Luka Milivojevic fired a long range effort narrowly over having already hit one into orbit.
The second half was drab in terms of chances with Hernandez forcing a smart save from a header from Wayne Hennessey. The Mexican also delighted the home crowd with some keepy uppies before advancing the ball and later did a feint to leave Tomkins on the ground but his cross into Kouyate was overhit.
Both teams ran around a lot in the second half, but despite the Eagles having the lions share of the possession, no significant chances were created.
Swansea’s 3-1 victory over Arsenal means The Irons are upto 10th but still just four points above the drop zone.
West Ham United – Adrian, Collins, Ogbonna, Rice, Zabaleta, Kouyate (Oxford ’86), Noble (c), Mario, Cresswell, Hernandez.
Unused Subs – Hart, Fonte, Haksabanovic, Quina, Cullen, Martinez.
Goalscorer – Mark Noble ’42 (p).
Crystal Palace – Hennessey, Fosu-Mensah, Kelly, Tomkins, Van Aanholt, Townsend, McArthur, Miliojevic, Sako (Cabaye ’41), Zaha, Benteke.
Unused Subs – Speroni, Ward, Sakho, Riedewald, Lee, Souare.
Goalscorer – Christian Benteke ’24.