WHZ View: West Ham system change left them vulnerable v Crystal Palace
West Ham failed to grab a winner against a 10-man Crystal Palace on Wednesday, with the 1-1 draw leaving David Moyes’ side seventh in the Premier League.
A Christian Benteke header put the Eagles ahead in the first half before a wonderful overhead kick from Sebastien Haller drew the Hammers level with 35 minutes remaining.
Benteke was sent off with 20 minutes still on the clock but West Ham struggled to create any clear cut opportunities that could have seen them seal the win. According to InfoGol, the Hammers took just five shots from inside the Palace box, with only one of them a better than 10% chance.
However, it was what happened at the other end that will have concerned Moyes, with Palace able to cause issues from crosses in the box.
While Roy Hodgson’s side completed just three crosses into the area, they resulted in three headed chances for Benteke (via FBRef). The Belgian striker failed to direct the first one on target, but scored the opening goal from the second cross and could have easily had another.
One of the key reasons that Benteke had so much joy, taking five shots in total, was due to the lack of pressure of the man playing the cross or pass into the box. For both of Joel Ward’s completed crosses that lead to headed chances, the Palace right-back was left in acres of space to pick out the 6ft 3in striker.
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With Arthur Masuaku ruled out, the Hammers have switched from a 3-4-3 to a 4-2-3-1, with Aaron Creswell moving from his left-sided centre-back role to left-back. As a result, West Ham are now defending with less width and have fewer bodies defending the box.
This was certainly evident in the first half in particular, where Palace had seven of their eight shots (via FBRef). Across the 90 minutes, Hodgson’s side generated 1.1 expected goals to West Ham’s 0.3 (via FBRef), and while the Hammers improved in the second half, it is a concern that Moyes should look to address in the future.
In other West Ham news, Hammers unfortunate to lose 3-1 v Manchester United