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David Moyes notched his 666th victory as a Premier League manager, and the devilish temptation to torment Sheffield United, who were struggling in ineptitude, might have crossed his mind.
In contrast to Newcastle’s epic eight-goal spree the previous week, West Ham settled for a more modest two goals, both of which were gifts from the visitors. Jarrod Bowen found the net when none of the six defenders in the box bothered to mark him. Tomas Soucek capitalized on Gustavo Hamer’s giveaway to add another goal.
Paul Heckingbottom might be forgiven for wondering if his team will ever secure a Premier League win. It was yet another challenging outing for their fans, who made the arduous 350-mile round trip amid a train strike.
Sheffield United remains winless this season, with Heckingbottom receiving assurances from club owner Prince Abdullah and chief executive Stephen Bettis after last week’s humiliating 8-0 defeat to Newcastle. He hopes this isn’t the dreaded kiss of death it often turns out to be.
In Premier League history, only one team has lost by eight or more goals and then won their next game. United never looked close to emulating Wigan’s feat from November 2009, despite showing more spirit in the second half after falling behind 2-0.
“We huffed and puffed and pushed,” said Heckingbottom of their second-half effort. “There are two choices – we feel sorry for ourselves or we battle.”
While Sheffield United is languishing at the bottom of the Premier League, West Ham’s season is sailing smoothly. They now sit in seventh place, with their only losses coming against formidable opponents in Manchester City and Liverpool. Next up is a Europa League trip to Freiburg, Germany.
Some West Ham fans donned Carlos Tevez masks, harkening back to May 13, 2007, the day they survived at Sheffield United’s expense. Tevez scored the winner at Old Trafford despite a controversial dispute over his registration, resulting in West Ham being fined £5.5 million by the Premier League.
Perhaps it was no surprise that the visitors didn’t feel inclined to do West Ham any favors when Lucas Paqueta dropped down injured. United played on, and Cameron Archer might have scored were it not for a splendid diving block by Nayef Aguerd.
In the 15th minute, James Ward-Prowse’s cross found Bowen’s head, forcing Wes Foderingham into a one-handed save. Luke Thomas then cleared Aguerd’s rebound off the line.
West Ham doubled their lead in the 24th minute through a goal that epitomized United’s current run of bad luck. Hamer carelessly surrendered possession in midfield to Emerson, leading to Michail Antonio feeding the surging Soucek, who beat Foderingham for a 2-0 lead.
United aimed to give their traveling supporters something to cheer about in the second half. Vini Souza’s attempt was crucially blocked by Coufal, who had an outstanding performance, before Alphonse Areola smothered Anel Ahmedhodzic’s header. There were other chances, but none too troubling for West Ham.
In the final six minutes of stoppage time, the away supporters sang, “How s*** must you be? It’s only 2-0.” They seem to be coming to terms with their bottom-of-the-league position and having some fun with it. However, when and where a win will arrive for Heckingbottom remains uncertain.