West Ham's tale of two draws: Spurs blunted but there is no taming of the Shrews
PUBLISHED: 10:30 09 January 2018
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Here's our verdict on West Ham's battles with Tottenham and Shrewsbury
When you are playing away to Spurs, as West Ham did last Thursday, you would expect to be under pressure and not to have a lot of efforts.
That was the case at Wembley, but you do not expect a similar thing to happen when you travel to a League One side in the FA Cup.
You could say this was West Ham’s third game in less than a week, you could also say that manager David Moyes made plenty of changes and was missing key players.
But when the cold wind blew by the end of this game, it was evident that Shrewsbury had outplayed the Hammers and were lucky to have survived to fight another day.
“We’re fortunate that we’ve taken the tie to a replay,” admitted the West Ham manager. “Shrewsbury were better than us, so I’m pleased to still be in the FA Cup.”
The Shrews, second in League One, were better in just about every department. They looked half a yard faster, they won more tackles and they actually tested Joe Hart in the West Ham goal.
They didn’t have many chances at Tottenham on Thursday night, but they had even less here.
A tame header from Reece Burke, which the keeper stooped to pick up and another header from Andre Ayew in the second half that barely registered on me as I watched.
It must be particularly galling for the fans to watch their team play five at the back against a lower league team and see Ayew and Javier Hernandez hardly have a kick in the whole game.
“We had hardly any attempts at all, maybe one or two, but very few in the first half,” said a clearly frustrated Moyes.
“Joe Hart made a couple of very good saves and I don’t think anyone should be surprised by Shrewsbury because they are doing very well in their league.”
‘Their league’ is the key phrase. West Ham are a Premier League club and though the Shrews momentum was always going to make them competitive, the Hammers class should surely have given them the edge on the day.
It didn’t and though youngsters Declan Rice, Josh Cullen and Reece Burke escape criticism as well as Hart, the rest fell well below expectations.
“The biggest disappointment for me was that we didn’t show enough steel, because when you come to these places you have to show you can battle and complete physically, I don’t think we did that at all.”
It is refreshing to hear such honesty from the manager. There is no soft soap or statistics from the Scot, he tells it how it is and it was simply not good enough.
“It’s a mentality thing too,” he continued. “Wherever you’re playing you have to recognise and respect what you are up against, whether that’s Tottenham or Shrewsbury.”
Moyes would certainly have settled for a win against West Brom and two draws against Tottenham and Shrewsbury at the beginning of the week.
Some of his players have been rested, others have had time to improve their fitness and we all go again at Huddersfueld on Saturday.
Two draws in four days. Two similar displays, but one met by squeals of delight and the other by derision.
At the end of a tough week though, West Ham have moved out of the bottom three in the Premier League and they are still in the FA Cup.
Perhaps it is not so bad.