Marko moody is the main West Ham talking point as the Hammers sneak past Birmingham in FA Cup
PUBLISHED: 12:30 07 January 2019
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Hammers striker shows his anger at being substituted as Caroll breaks his season's duck
On a weekend of shocks and rested Premier League players, West Ham managed to negotiate a tough FA Cup tie against Championship side Birmingham City, but they made hard work of it.
Having got into the lead in the opening two minutes this should have been plain sailing for the Hammers, but it was the Blues who held sway for much of this game and should have earned a replay.
Andy Carroll cleared off the line, Michail Antonio made a superb last-ditch clearance and Adrian made a good save at the feet of a Birmingham striker, before Carroll nodded in number two in injury time to flatter the Hammers.
The main talking point came on 20 minutes when Marko Arnautovic was hauled off by manager Manuel Pellegrini.
A precaution maybe, but the Austrian was far from happy. Being taken off after 20 minutes is something of an ambarrassment.
“It is not very important because we won the game and he scored a goal,” said the manager, trying to play the incident down.
“He felt some pain in his back at the beginning and I thought it was better to change him because he is just coming off another injury and he played 90 minutes less than 72 hours ago.
“After that he could continue, but I think it was not good to take the risk. He was angry for just one minute that is it.”
Looking at his steaming scowl on the bench, it was a lot more than a minute, but it shows just how much of a precious commodity he is considered by the Hammers management and medical team.
Without him, West Ham struggled to have the same cutting edge.
There were decent moments from Grady Diangana, Xande Silva and Michail Antonio, but they were not clear cut chances, whereas the visitors were sharper and carved out better opportunities.
To say the main problem was Carroll is over simplistic, but his efforts did not help.
His day was summed up when Felipe Anderson set him up and he rounded the keeper only to stumble and miss out on a tap in.
A minute later he did manage to head home and celebrate accordingly, but it was one of relief rather than joy.
Whether Carroll fits into this new era of West Ham is debatable and if Newcastle offer Jonjo Shelvey in exchange, perhaps it is the right time to let him go.
Pellegrini, as well as the fans, were certainly happy with the contribution of Samir Nasri.
“One of the positives was the minutes that Nasri played,” said the boss. “He is a player that gives you time with the ball, has good technique and the ball is always around him.”
He certainly adds to the options for the depleted squad and if he continues to improve, then he is likely to get plenty of chances.
Perhaps the best thing about this game was the extraordinary crowd of over 54,000. Ticket prices were reduced, but this was still a remarkable attendance.
“I’m happy because we won the game and secondly because we won through to the fourth round of the FA Cup,” he concluded.
At the end of the day, that is all that matters. They won, Arnautovic is fit and may well take out his frustration on Arsenal this Saturday.
Others got rests, while more injured players are on the verge of a return.
All is right with the world.