Murray delivers hammer blow
Four fixtures without defeat had encouraged an optimism their £100 million investment in new signings could yet inspire them into the top half of the Premier League. West Ham instead again resembled an unsettled side struggling for an identity as Glenn Murray’s goal for Brighton took the hosts above them and up to 12th place, and left them at risk of ending the weekend in 17th.
The quality occasionally demonstrated by Felipe Anderson and Marko Arnautovic will regardless be cause for encouragement for West Ham’s manager, Manuel Pellegrini, but of greater concern will be the ease with which they were outplayed throughout the first half.
Brighton had already threatened when, in the 25th minute, they deservedly took the lead. The visitors’ Andriy Yarmolenko was guilty of losing concentration and then possession to Beram Kayal near the half-way line, and from there the Brighton midfielder seamlessly created their opening goal.
After playing a swift one-two with Solly March, Kayal ran unchallenged down the left wing and had time to look up and cross to Murray, who from immediately in front of goal had an inexplicable amount of space to routinely finish beyond goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Anderson’s delivery ensured the visitors had a promising chance shortly afterwards, but when Arnautovic struggled to connect, Pedro Obiang volleyed into the ground and over.
With Pellegrini’s team struggling for possession, it took until shortly after the hour mark for them to again look capable of scoring. From a 25-yard free-kick Anderson curled harmlessly over the crossbar. Murray then almost scored again , when March weaved his way from the right wing into the penalty area and chipped a cross into his path, but the striker headed narrowly over. With five minutes left West Ham won another free-kick, the in-form Arnautovic this time curled beyond the crossbar.
Brighton substitute Jurgen Locadia was then unfortunate when his finish, from a close-range rebound, was ruled out for the most marginal of offside calls.