It was another impressive display by West Ham that led to us seeing off a Hull City side that piled men behind the ball on Sunday.
The first half was far from convincing, it looked as if Hull’s game plan of crowding the midfield was working well and they were unlucky not to score as Sone Aluko and Ahmed Elmohamady wasted decent opportunities early on.
In the second half, our fortunes completely changed as the team came out with a new injection of attacking potency that made us too hot to handle for Hull’s defence. Andy Carroll was the main outlet for the entire game as his aerial presence was a handful once agin. The direct approach was something that really paid off for Big Sam as Hull struggled to keep Andy Carroll quiet. They struggled to find their shape when West Ham pushed the ball forward more quickly.
Despite the direct approach, the goals were still well taken. Andy Carroll showed his predatory instincts by reacting quickest to Allan McGregor’s spilt save from an Enner Valencia drive. His recent goals have shown that the striker is really getting back to full fitness and he is making an impact across the entire 90 minutes, as well as scoring goals that rely on match sharpness. Downing’s goal was a joy to watch after Alex Song threaded a ball through the eye of a needle, which rolled expertly into the path of Downing who finished excellently.
The goal that really stood out for me was Morgan Amalfitano’s. The finish was exquisite as he delicately chipped the ball over the stranded goalkeeper. The Frenchman’s impact from the bench is one of the best I’ve seen in recent history at West Ham. He always seems to come on and make a difference and it looks like he’s putting in a lot of effort for the team.
When West Ham signed Amalfitano, a lot of West Brom fans dismissed the transfer and said that he was lazy but produced a rare bit of magic every now and then. Whether Allardyce has told Amalfitano to put some effort in remains to be seen but the manager’s decision to bring on a player of his quality is a bright idea, rather than using him from the start where he is sometimes prone to burning out after a while. Having said that, when he started the FA Cup tie against Everton at Goodison Park he was arguably the best player on the pitch.
Allardyce rarely gives the Frenchman 90 minutes, but this is probably the most effective way to handle a player like Amalfitano. Let’s not forget that he refused to train with Marseille in order to join West Ham, so he clearly wants to be at the club and he appears happy to help the team out with his substitute appearances.
In his time at West Brom, he was renowned for possessing a finesse edge to his game and West Ham have also seen that so far this season. His goal against Liverpool was very well taken and his chip against Hull on Sunday proves that he can really finish under pressure.
Stats from the Hull game show that Amalfitano also contributed a lot in the attacking third for the Hammers, something that was lacking in the first half. He completed 13/16 passes with seven of those 13 taking place in the attacking third of the pitch. He also managed three crosses into the box and completed two successful take-ons. These are not bad stats considering the midfielder only played for 25 minutes.
Therefore, Amalfitano deserves a bit of recognition this season. He is part of a number of summer signings that have been really excellent for the club so far and his quality in front of goal should not be overlooked. He is a very capable attacking midfielder and has adapted to life at West Ham very well, let’s hope he continues to produce and provide the team with more excellent goals like the one he produced on Sunday.