West Ham super subs make the difference as magical Marko is bang on target
PUBLISHED: 12:30 03 January 2019
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Antonio and Noble change the game as the Hammers hit back
Star striker Marko Arnautovic took the headlines after this draw with Brighton on Wednesday, but he was not the only one to help turn things round.
In front of a new club record crowd of 59,870, things did not look good for a lacklustre West Ham outfit.
They trailed 2-0 to bogey side Brighton after two sloppy set-piece goals and the arrival of skipper Mark Noble and Michail Antonio off the bench did not exactly get the fans off their seats.
But it took just three minutes for the subs to have an effect and bring Arnautovic out of his shell at the same time.
The Austrian had played in the first half and failed to link up with Andy Carroll up front, much to the annoyance of manager Manuel Pellegrini.
“I was disappointed because we cannot play here at home and create not one chance in 45 minutes,” said the boss.
“We know Brighton defend well, but there was a lack of creativity in the first half.”
The situation with Carroll is something of a quandary. He has been back for a few weeks now, but still does not seem to fit into the team, or be able to play a whole match.
“At this moment, Andy is not able to play more than 45 minutes,” said Pellegrini. “In the other games, he was a substitute and played 35 or 30 minutes.
“We tried to find him too many times with high balls and they had two tall centre-backs so we tried to attack in another way with Lucas Perez and that’s why he didn’t continue.
“But that 45 minutes in this moment is good for him.”
Just as at Burnley on Sunday, too many players looked jaded in this game, including Felipe Anderson and Robert Snodgrass who had been the star men in recent weeks.
With so many players out injured, it has been a tough balancing act for the manager.
“I think most of them need a bit more rest,” he said. “That is why I tried to make a few changes to the starting eleven to use the 15 or 16 players we have at this moment.”
And Pellegrini was full of praise for the two subs he brought on with the score at 2-0.
“We know that Brighton score most of their goals from set-pieces, especially corners, so to concede two goals from set-pieces is very disappointing,” he said.
“But fortunately we never gave up. The two subs came into the game and did very well, they changed the face of the game.”
What they added was pace and purpose. Everything seemed to be in first gear in the opening half, there was no urgency in the play.
But Noble was able to get the ball forward more quickly and Antonio was able to beat players and put them under pressure.
Arnautovic had been largely anonymous at Turf Moor, but he found his form for this one.
“He is a different player,” said Pellegrini. “He is coming back from injury so he is full of energy, he has not played eight games in December.
“We drew the game and though I am disappointed with the result of course, I am very happy with the spirit of the team and the players that have played too many games in December.”
Last season, West Ham would have slumped to defeat in this game. At least now, they are showing more fight.
With the FA Cup clash with Birmingham tomorrow (Saturday), now is the time to rest some vital players.