West Ham find it three and easy in last home game
PUBLISHED: 12:30 06 May 2019
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'Arnie' finds his enthusiasm and finishing for the Hammers at long last
In the last two games, West Ham have shown that they have the capabilities to be a real player in this Premier League.
The win over Tottenham and more importantly, following it up with an emphatic win over Southampton illustrated that Manuel Pellegrini's team certainly have something.
All season they have been hamstrung by injuries to key players, while when their moment came to thrust themselves into seventh place, and there were plenty of chances, they blew them all.
But after outplaying Spurs and winning on their home turf, they came into this game missing two of their most influential players in Declan Rice and Felipe Anderson through illness.
And yet it didn't matter. West Ham looked the better side for all but the start of the second half. They looked solid at the back, Mark Noble was superb in the middle of the park and on the wings there was always danger to be had.
And then there was Marko Arnautovic. A dismal shadow of his former self in the last few petulant months, he has suddenly found his motivation and his energy.
He latched on to Noble's slide-rule pass and finished with clinical expertise early on. He then pounced to nod home from close range in the second half after an incisive run by Arthur Masuaku.
The scoring was finished by full-back Ryan Fredericks after a delightful one-two with Jack Wilshere and it was cameos like the former Arsenal man's that give so much hope.
As well as Wilshere, Carlos Sanchez returned for the first time since September to show that there is strength in depth at West Ham, if only they remained fit.
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For manager Manuel Pellegrini, it was a fitting end to a decent home season.
“We talked with the players before the game and we knew we were coming in after the most-important win of the season against Tottenham and the best way to finish the season at home was to win the game for our fans and play well,” he said.
“The team did both things, scored three goals and kept a clean sheet and we continued playing the same way we had in the last four games, when we played very well, but didn't get the results.
“Now, we have finished at home with a win for our fans.”
It has certainly been a frustrating season for Hammers fans. Great displays against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Spurs have been interspersed with dismal ones against Wolves, Brighton, Bournemouth and Burnley.
It is that inconsistency that must be tackled and if it is, West Ham can be punching at a much higher weight next term.
“We are improving,” said the boss. “Maybe this was a transitional season and to try and continue improving we must play one game and if we win and finish with 52 points it is not a bad amount of points.
“So, for me, I think we need to have a more winning mentality in the future but, if you asked me, I think it is a good season.”
Maybe, but there were also many missed opportunities along the way this season and you could see the frustration on Pellegrini's face during the season.
A season without the worry of relegation is always a decent one, but the trouble is, West Ham fans now expect so much more.
Hopefully, next season, they will get it.