Unlucky West Ham count the cost of missed chances at Arsenal
PUBLISHED: 12:45 09 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:45 09 March 2020
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VAR decision sentences the Hammers to cruel defeat at the Emirates
West Ham boss David Moyes summed up Saturday's defeat by Arsenal perfectly when he faced the press after the 1-0 defeat.
"I have said to the players well played, but I am not going to keep doing it until we start getting more points," he said.
"I'd rather play not so well, but win games because that's what we need, we need the points."
Indeed they do. The Hammers have now played well in their past three games, but they only have three points to show for it and two unlucky defeats are still losses and not points.
Saturday's game saw West Ham outplay a decidedly average Arsenal team. They cut them open at will, their front four dominated the Gunners fragile defence, but at the end of the day you have to take your chances.
"In recent weeks we have made individual mistakes defensively which has cost us in games, maybe a goalkeeping mistake or whatever," said Moyes.
"Here the mistakes were not taking our chances when we had them, that would be the disappointment."
The excellent Jarrod Bowen hit the post early on and forced a decent save from Bernd Leno, Sebastien Haller forced another save when put through, while perhaps the biggest culprit was Michail Antonio.
The bulldozing striker passed behind Haller with the goal gaping and also missed from point-blank range in the first half, before a free header in the second was straight at the keeper.
"In some wats I have made more chances here at Arsenal than I have made in a long time and that is the most disappointing thing," said Moyes.
He was right, this game should have been done and dusted long before the controversial VAR decision that gave the Gunners an undeserved three points.
Moyes had been bold in his team selection, sticking with the attacking formation that won against Southampton, and it worked a treat - almost.
And when another tough deflection presented Mesut Ozil with a chance to nod down for Alexandre Lacazette to score from close range, West Ham seemed to have survived it when the flag went up for offside.
Nobody celebrated, all waited for Lukasz Fabianski to launch his free kick, but down at Stockley Park things were stirring.
After what seemed like an age, the decision came and it was given as a goal.
Was it a clear and glaring error? No. Was it a case of undermining the officials on the fieldf? Definitely, yes.
Have West Ham benefitted from any VAR decision this season? You know the answer to that one.
There is a lot to be said for the rules of cricket, where in the case of a close call, you go with the umpire's call on the field.
"I've seen it a bit on the I-pad at the time and I don't know what you want me to say," said a guarded Moyes. "I can't give you a line on it at all."
Probably wise, but he must have been fuming, though more with his team's profligacy.
"You can't fault the players for effort, commitment or attitude, everything was spot on," said the boss. "I thought the players did a great job. We made several chances, but we couldn't convert."
This was a very different problem to the defensive one West Ham faced earlier in the season and is more easily rectified.
Play like this for the rest of the season and they should have no trouble winning games, but a lot of it is down to confidence and the players must keep the faith.