West Ham 2-0 Norwich
Goals: Sébastien Haller (£7.5m), Andriy Yarmolenko (£5.9m)
Assists: Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m)
Bonus Points: Masuaku x3, Issa Diop x2 (£4.5m), Haller, Lukasz Fabianski x1 (£5.0m)
Norwich and their popular attacking players were restricted by an injury to centre-back Christoph Zimmermann (£4.5m) in their defeat to West Ham on Saturday.
The Canaries offered plenty going forward in the first half an hour of their trip to the London Stadium in Gameweek 4 but weren’t the same after losing Zimmermann.
It will be a big shame for those invested in the Norwich offensive assets as this game was a big opportunity to capitalise on West Ham’s poor defence, but they weren’t really given the chance in the end.
Todd Cantwell (£4.8m) went incredibly close to scoring in back-to-back games in the first half when he headed over the bar from close range after a Max Aarons (£4.5m) cross.
That was Norwich’s best chance of the game but they failed to create much after Zimmermann’s departure. Norwich are a team whose success in the Championship, and in their early Premier League outings, is based around passing the ball out from the back, so it is not surprising that problems in defence can, indirectly affect their forward play.
Zimmermann was making his first top-flight appearance after sustaining a pre-season injury but was forced off in the 36th minute following a bad challenge from Sébastien Haller (£7.5m). Norwich manager Daniel Farke was not happy about that.
“Now I am not sitting here demanding red cards but one thing is for sure, there was a tackle against my centre back and the ball was three yards away. There was no red card, no yellow card, not even a free-kick. The outcome is my centre back is injured in this scene. Then two minutes later we were not able to substitute him. They counter, my centre back is not able to sprint back and he is one yard too late to block the cross and the player who made the tackle when the ball was three yards away rewards himself. It changes the whole game.” – Daniel Farke
“My player is on the way to the hospital, their player is on the shoulder of his team-mates. I already had two centre backs injured before the game, so I have to bring a holding midfielder into this position and he adapted well. When my leader, my captain has to go out it influences the game.” – Daniel Farke
Not only was it jarring for Norwich to have to make a defensive change so soon in the match, but it meant they had to draw on very thin resources for a replacement.
The Canaries have been incredibly unfortunate in the centre-back department since their promotion, struggling almost exclusively in this area when it comes to injuries so far.
With centre-backs Grant Hanley (£4.0m) and Timm Klose (£4.5m) missing the trip to north London, it was left to Ibrahim Amadou (£4.5m) to fill in for Zimmermann, having only made his Norwich debut in the EFL Cup last week against Crawley Town.
Amadou’s inexperience showed after that, especially considering that he is a defensive midfielder by trade, and that left Norwich too exposed to achieve much in the second half.
This may be of some concern for owners of Norwich assets ahead of the Gameweek 5 visit of Manchester City to Carrow Road.
Their defence has been incredibly leaky this season, but injuries to several centre-backs have not helped matters, so it seems likely, at the very least, that Manchester City attackers could have a field day next time out.
Furthermore, having to start with Amadou alongside Ben Godfrey (£4.5m) could be less than ideal for Cantwell or indeed Teemu Pukki (£7.0m) in terms of attacking potential too.
It is worth pointing out that there is every chance that any one of Zimmermann, Hanley or Klose could recover in time for Gameweek 5 so Fantasy managers will have to keep an eye on their fitness during the international break, as well as Farke’s next press conference.
Meanwhile, owners of West Ham assets should feel very positive moving forward as they completely dominated proceedings in the second-half.
They could have arguably won by a greater margin were it not for the efforts of Tim Krul (£4.5m) who made five saves against the Hammers.
“Maybe the margin could have been bigger but they have a goalkeeper that saved four or five clear chances. But for me it was a very consistent and solid performance, playing against a team like Norwich that is an attacking team with very creative players who score lots of goals.” – Manuel Pellegrini
The focal point of West Ham’s attacking play was Haller who followed up on his promise to score the opening goal of the game, converting a cross from Arthur Masuaku (£4.5m).
Aside from that he also linked up play well with his team-mates, made good runs into space and pressed from the front, even if slightly aggressive in the tackle according to Farke.
Haller has certainly made a positive start to his West Ham career and with appealing fixtures on the horizon, there will be plenty of Fantasy in him too.
In fact, the former Eintracht Frankfurt man is only the fourth West Ham player to score as many as three goals in their first three Premier League appearances.
“I’m a striker and it’s really important to get confidence and score goals. The Premier League is not easy, it is quite tough and intense. I try and adapt and do everything to get good information. It is really good for our confidence going into the international break with a win.” – Sébastien Haller
“I think that Sebastien is not just a striker, you saw his performance today. He is always working, supports the ball, made combinations with the midfield players so he is not just in the box. But a striker always needs to score goals and for him to score one goal today it was good for him and important, he is just starting in a new league but every game he will keep improving.” – Manuel Pellegrini
Making just his second start of the campaign, Andriy Yarmolenko (£5.9m) also impressed for West Ham. For the last two games, he has been deployed on the right flank of attacking midfield, with Manuel Lanzini (£6.5m) in the middle and Felipe Anderson (£6.9m) on the right.
This could be the presiding trio in support of Haller moving forward, potentially complicating how to cover West Ham in midfield.
“For Andriy, he is a player who has scored a lot of goals in his career. I am happy for him because he deserves this happiness after such a long injury. He never complained, he worked hard and he recovered and now he has these minutes because he is a very important player for us.” – Manuel Pellegrini
Anderson had another impressive performance as far as the eye test goes, and was unfortunate not to get any attacking returns.
His first-half effort was blocked by Zimmermann, a chance that he should have done better with. The Brazilian also provided plenty of threat in wide areas, giving Aarons an afternoon to forget. Meanwhile, Lanzini was better in the first half before having a quieter second period.
Finally, there was a much-needed clean sheet for West Ham’s defence, although as we’ve already mentioned they can probably consider themselves a little fortunate to keep it.
Had Cantwell done better with his first-half chance then the Hammers may have conceded yet again. Furthermore, Norwich were also unlikely to trouble them with their problems in the second half.
Therefore, it seems unlikely that Manuel Pellegrini’s men will keep Aston Villa out in Gameweek 5, as the newly-promoted side
“I said before the season in pre-season we need to improve defending. We conceded too many goals last season, I don’t remember how many maybe 56 or 57, the other season was 69, so you cannot just score two or three goals a game to win. You can be a solid team in defending and an attacking team also, be concentrated on two or three balls.” – Manuel Pellegrini
West Ham United XI (4-1-4-1): Fabianski; Masuaku, Ogbonna, Diop, Fredericks; Rice; Anderson (Fornals 88′), Lanzini, Noble (C Sánchez 85′), Yarmolenko (Snodgrass 71′); Haller.
Norwich City XI (4-2-3-1): Krul; Lewis, Godfrey, Zimmermann (Amadou 36′), Aarons; Leitner, Trybull; Cantwell (McLean 78′), Stiepermann (Drmic 77′), Buendía; Pukki.
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