West Ham David Moyes feels his side have “not scratched the surface yet” of their potential after they beat Crystal Palace to continue their flawless start to 2021 and move into the top four of the Premier League.
The Hammers have now won six in a row in all competitions, with the latest victory coming from an impressive away display, epitomised by Tomas Soucek, who was on target twice.
Palace took an early lead through their returning talisman Wilfried Zaha, but Moyes’ side were soon back on terms through a goal from their Czech midfielder and from thereon in dominated.
The free-scoring Soucek added another and Craig Dawson netted a third with a routine header before Michy Batshuayi’s late strike for the hosts took some of the shine off the scoreline but not the result.
“We are getting better and we are an improved team, but I think we are not scratching the surface yet. I think we have so much more we can give,” said Moyes.
“Part of a manager’s job is to raise expectations at your football club but I will not try and be stupid because West Ham have done it too often and maybe got it wrong.
“I am going to be a bit more steady and sensible if I can. But I am ambitious, I want to manage teams at the top of the league and be competing in the competitions if I can.
“And the players are giving me every hope, they’re doing a great job and they have been exceptional in the way they have played and they want more – I can sense it in the dressing room.”
West Ham are now on 35 points from 20 games, but Palace – still a healthy 11 points clear of danger – have won just one in 10.
Europe the target for West Ham?
The Hammers sit fourth in the table, above champions Liverpool, a scenario few would have imagined just a year ago.
West Ham were 17th in the Premier League, just one point above the relegation zone, when Moyes returned for a second spell in December 2019.
Now he may have his sights on matching the club’s best ever Premier League finish of fifth in 1999 – although he will know as well as any manager not to take his side’s form for granted in this most unpredictable of seasons.
Zaha’s brilliant early goal had the Hammers on the back foot right away but they settled well and were level when Michail Antonio hooked a ball across for the ever-dangerous Soucek to power in a header.
The Czech, a relative bargain at £19m, has had a great year under Moyes and soon added a second, controlling a deep free-kick on his thigh before smashing in at the near post.
“When you think this time last year we signed him and to come in and hit the ground running in the Premier League is really difficult at any time, but he has not only done that – he has made a big difference,” added Moyes.
“He has made a difference with his performances, with the type of lad he is and his honesty, so he has been great and he can score and he showed that tonight.”
Antonio will feel he should have bettered Soucek’s efforts but he twice hitting the post and saw Vicente Guaita make a wonderful reflex save to keep him out.
His misses would not matter though, despite Batshuayi’s stoppage-time finish. Dawson’s powerful header made it five wins for Moyes in five matches at Selhurst Park, for five different teams – Preston (2001), Everton (2004), Manchester United (2014), Sunderland (2017) and West Ham (2021).
‘More to come from West Ham’ – analysis
Former England defender Alex Scott, discussing West Ham on BBC Match of the Day: “There is free-flowing football. When I watch West Ham now they are exciting and on the front foot. They want to take the game to teams now instead of waiting to see how a game develops.
“I was impressed again with their attacking play tonight. They won the ball back high up the pitch. Tomas Soucek is getting forward and pressing into attacking spaces.
“I’ve been really impressed with Said Benrahma. He exploits space, wanting to make something happen.
“Michail Antonio will be so disappointed that the only thing he didn’t have today was a goal. But his movement, going out wide to help create space for Benrahma through the middle. And I like the balance in midfield, between Soucek and Declan Rice.
“All of a sudden this West Ham team have hunger and an energy about them. You can see what David Moyes is building. There is more to come from them.”
Have the Eagles landed?
In contrast to the Hammers’ confidence and verve, it is threatening to be a washout of a season for Palace.
Well clear of danger but also far short of challenging the top six, Hodgson’s side could not build on the bright start they made when Zaha played a one-two with Christian Benteke and thrashed in from the edge of the box.
Zaha aside, Palace struggled to create anything despite fielding an attacking-looking side on paper. West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski only made one save all night and the hosts had just six efforts on goal to West Ham’s 17.
Batshuayi did manage to get a second goal in the sixth and final minute of stoppage time, a neat finish from a Jordan Ayew flick, but the game had long since gone.
“I thought we lost to the better team, our first-half performance was nowhere near as good as we expected to be and as a result we found ourselves coming in at half time 2-1 down,” Hodgson told BBC Sport.
“Second half we lost it to the set play and when you are 3-1 down even though we had a bit of a spurt in that period it’s very hard to score two goals against a team of West Ham’s quality and they tool the points deservedly.”
Hammers on a roll – the stats
- West Ham have won their first six competitive games in a single calendar year for the first time in their history.
- West Ham have won four consecutive Premier League games for the first time since December 2018, while manager David Moyes has now done so in the competition for the first time since December 2013 with Manchester United.
- Each of the first three shots in Crystal Palace vs West Ham were scored – the first time that each of the first three attempts in a Premier League game have all been converted since Everton vs Leicester in April 2017.
- Tomas Soucek became the fifth Czech Republic player to reach 10 Premier League goals, with the West Ham midfielder doing so in just 33 appearances, the joint-fewest games taken by a Czech player to hit this milestone (level with Milan Baros).
Palace will look for an improved display against Wolves on Saturday (15:00 GMT) while West Ham host out-of-sorts Liverpool on Sunday (16:30 GMT)
West Ham United
- 10TownsendSubstituted forBatshuayiat 66′minutes
- 4MilivojevicSubstituted forRiedewaldat 73′minutes
- 20BentekeSubstituted forJ Ayewat 73′minutes
- 3van Aanholt
- 9J Ayew
- 20BowenSubstituted forFredericksat 81′minutes
- 9BenrahmaSubstituted forNobleat 87′minutes
- 30AntonioSubstituted forYarmolenkoat 83′minutes
- Stuart Attwell
Match ends, Crystal Palace 2, West Ham United 3.
Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 2, West Ham United 3.
Goal! Crystal Palace 2, West Ham United 3. Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jordan Ayew.
Offside, West Ham United. Aaron Cresswell tries a through ball, but Andriy Yarmolenko is caught offside.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Vladimir Coufal.
Foul by Joel Ward (Crystal Palace).
Pablo Fornals (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, West Ham United. Mark Noble replaces Saïd Benrahma.
Attempt missed. James McArthur (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Jordan Ayew.
Substitution, West Ham United. Andriy Yarmolenko replaces Michail Antonio.
Attempt missed. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by James McArthur.
Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Declan Rice (West Ham United).
Substitution, West Ham United. Ryan Fredericks replaces Jarrod Bowen.
Foul by James McArthur (Crystal Palace).
Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Jordan Ayew.
Attempt blocked. Tomas Soucek (West Ham United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Pablo Fornals.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jordan Ayew replaces Christian Benteke.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jairo Riedewald replaces Luka Milivojevic.