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West Ham super subs make the difference as magical Marko is bang on target

PUBLISHED: 12:30 03 January 2019

West Ham United's Marko Arnautovic celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at the London Stadium.

West Ham United's Marko Arnautovic celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at the London Stadium.

PA Wire/PA Images

Antonio and Noble change the game as the Hammers hit back

West Ham United's Michail Antonio (left) and Brighton & Hove Albion's Lewis Dunk battle for the ball in the air during the Premier League match at the London Stadium.West Ham United's Michail Antonio (left) and Brighton & Hove Albion's Lewis Dunk battle for the ball in the air during the Premier League match at the London Stadium.

Star striker Marko Arnautovic took the headlines after this draw with Brighton on Wednesday, but he was not the only one to help turn things round.

In front of a new club record crowd of 59,870, things did not look good for a lacklustre West Ham outfit.

They trailed 2-0 to bogey side Brighton after two sloppy set-piece goals and the arrival of skipper Mark Noble and Michail Antonio off the bench did not exactly get the fans off their seats.

But it took just three minutes for the subs to have an effect and bring Arnautovic out of his shell at the same time.

West Ham United's Felipe Anderson (left) and Brighton & Hove Albion's Martin Montoya battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the London Stadium.West Ham United's Felipe Anderson (left) and Brighton & Hove Albion's Martin Montoya battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the London Stadium.

The Austrian had played in the first half and failed to link up with Andy Carroll up front, much to the annoyance of manager Manuel Pellegrini.

“I was disappointed because we cannot play here at home and create not one chance in 45 minutes,” said the boss.

“We know Brighton defend well, but there was a lack of creativity in the first half.”

The situation with Carroll is something of a quandary. He has been back for a few weeks now, but still does not seem to fit into the team, or be able to play a whole match.

West Ham United's Mark Noble (left) and Brighton & Hove Albion's Florin Andone battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the London Stadium.West Ham United's Mark Noble (left) and Brighton & Hove Albion's Florin Andone battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the London Stadium.

“At this moment, Andy is not able to play more than 45 minutes,” said Pellegrini. “In the other games, he was a substitute and played 35 or 30 minutes.

“We tried to find him too many times with high balls and they had two tall centre-backs so we tried to attack in another way with Lucas Perez and that’s why he didn’t continue.

“But that 45 minutes in this moment is good for him.”

Just as at Burnley on Sunday, too many players looked jaded in this game, including Felipe Anderson and Robert Snodgrass who had been the star men in recent weeks.

West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini (pic: Victoria Jones/PA)West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini (pic: Victoria Jones/PA)

With so many players out injured, it has been a tough balancing act for the manager.

“I think most of them need a bit more rest,” he said. “That is why I tried to make a few changes to the starting eleven to use the 15 or 16 players we have at this moment.”

And Pellegrini was full of praise for the two subs he brought on with the score at 2-0.

“We know that Brighton score most of their goals from set-pieces, especially corners, so to concede two goals from set-pieces is very disappointing,” he said.

Brighton & Hove Albion's Dale Stephens scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the London Stadium.Brighton & Hove Albion's Dale Stephens scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the London Stadium.

“But fortunately we never gave up. The two subs came into the game and did very well, they changed the face of the game.”

What they added was pace and purpose. Everything seemed to be in first gear in the opening half, there was no urgency in the play.

But Noble was able to get the ball forward more quickly and Antonio was able to beat players and put them under pressure.

Arnautovic had been largely anonymous at Turf Moor, but he found his form for this one.

West Ham United's Andy Carroll challenges Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper David Button for the ball during the Premier League match at the London Stadium.West Ham United's Andy Carroll challenges Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper David Button for the ball during the Premier League match at the London Stadium.

“He is a different player,” said Pellegrini. “He is coming back from injury so he is full of energy, he has not played eight games in December.

“We drew the game and though I am disappointed with the result of course, I am very happy with the spirit of the team and the players that have played too many games in December.”

Last season, West Ham would have slumped to defeat in this game. At least now, they are showing more fight.

With the FA Cup clash with Birmingham tomorrow (Saturday), now is the time to rest some vital players.

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