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Transfer Rater: Balotelli to West Ham

Football Whispers
 By Peter Thorne

West Ham thanking their lucky stars after fortuitous home win over Hull

West Ham fans and vociferous critics might need to revise their opinions of the London Stadium soon.

For the second time in a week, the Hammers can consider themselves very lucky to come away from a game with all three points. Saturday's fortunate 1-0 win over luckless Hull City was much more than the home side deserved, the visitors striking the post on three occasions.

West Ham's goal seemed to have a charmed life and, on this showing, the Stratford ground could soon become a lucky stadium.

Dieumerci Mbokani's miss was the worst. The Hull striker was one-on-one with Darren Randolph and had a full sight of the net but managed to find the woodwork. Hammers captain Mark Noble struck his own post as he attempted to clear Andrew Robertson's cross before the same player hit a thunderous effort that cannoned off the frame.

The home fans had booed their team off at half-time and, although they showed a second half improvement, the Hammers could scarcely believe their luck when they were awarded a 76th minute spot kick that captain Noble duly dispatched.

It was hard not to feel sympathy for the travelling Hull supporters at the final whistle. They must wonder where their next point is coming from after this travesty.


Seven points in a week is hardly relegation form, but West Ham can't ride their luck forever.


Another nervy, lacklustre, shambolic performance; most fans were casting envious glances to the nearby shopping centre where even Christmas shopping looked to provide more enjoyment.

Manager rating out of 10

5 -- Slaven Bilic desperately needs to do some good business in the transfer window. The manager will be happy with the points but will surely wonder just how his team got them.

West Ham UnitedWest Ham United
Hull CityHull City
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Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Darren Randolph, 7 -- Made four important saves; one top class one in the first half from Harry Maguire.

DF Cheikhou Kouyate, 6 -- Was named Man of the Match by the match day sponsors but the field of candidates was very small. A superb sliding tackle in the second half after a quick Hull break was probably the clincher.

DF Winston Reid, 5 -- The Kiwi international can only look at the clean sheet and wonder how.

DF Angelo Ogbonna, 4 -- Stretched many times, the Italian doesn't always look comfortable in the manager's formations.

DF Aaron Cresswell, 5 -- Nothing going forward and had his work cut-out at the back.

MF Mark Noble, 5 -- The captain's second goal in a week has earned his side six vital points; the rating may seem harsh but overall his contribution has been minimal.

MF Pedro Obiang, 4 -- Hooked at half-time after an anonymous first period.

MF Michail Antonio, 5 -- Couldn't get anything from the flanks against Hull, tried hard as ever but his main contribution was to earn the penalty when Tom Huddlestone was adjudged to have pushed him in the area .

MF Manuel Lanzini, 4 -- Another player taken out of the game at the break, the Argentinean was quiet but there was a suspicion he may have suffered a knock.

MF Dimitri Payet, 5 -- None of his free kicks came off and the last pass seemed to go astray, but again it is Payet's threat that seems to keep the opposition busy.

FW Andy Carroll, 5 -- Was either constrained by the Hull central defenders or did his work wide and deep. Leaving Carroll as a lone man up front at home isn't what the fans want to see.

West Ham's goal lived a charmed life on Saturday. It's amazing that Darren Randolph wasn't beaten at some point.


MF Havard Nordtveit, N/R -- On in injury time to waste precious seconds.

FW Andre Ayew, 6 -- Substituted on for Obiang and had a header cleared off the line. There's a sense a goal is coming -- perhaps against his old club Swansea City on Boxing Day.

MF Edimilson Fernandes, 6 -- Looked lively when he replaced Lanzini at half-time, cleared a shot off the line and had a few dangerous runs.

Peter Thorne, aka Billy Blagg (@BillyBlaggEsq), is ESPN FC's West Ham blogger.


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