West Ham collected all three points in an impressive display against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. The 1-0 win moves the Hammers out of the bottom three but, more importantly, the clean sheet obtained seems to indicate that the team's recent defensive nightmares may be -- if not completely solved -- at least under control.
Manuel Lanzini's 19th-minute opener was no more than the team deserved, although they had to thank a poor penalty attempt by Christian Benteke just before half-time to help maintain their slender lead. Under the cosh for periods in the second half, West Ham's task was made more difficult by referee Martin Atkinson, who sent off Aaron Creswell on his return for a foul that barely merited a booking. Nevertheless, Winston Reid was imperious throughout and the team showed tenacity and resolve in getting the result.
The Hammers' first away win of the season is an encouraging boost to the confidence of the team and fans alike -- the travelling faithful enjoying the wet evening under the lights in south London. If they can maintain this form, West Ham can confidently look up the table rather than down.
A return to form for the whole team. What's not to appreciate?
The sending off of Creswell was frustrating -- particularly as the decision was ridiculously harsh -- but the defender was such a positive on the pitch that it's hard to get too upset long term.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Slaven Bilic's injury crisis is easing and suddenly everything is rosy. Out of the bottom three and looking like the club of last season, even his abject post-match expression was gone on Saturday. A very encouraging performance.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Adrian, 7 -- Made important saves at a crucial time, and may even claim that his presence alone was enough to cause Benteke's wild penalty kick just before half-time.
DF Winston Reid, 8 -- Back to his best and dominant throughout in a superb man-of-the-match display.
DF Angelo Ogbonna, 6 -- Was booked for a clumsy foul and had his defensive partner to thank for the clean sheet.
DF Aaron Creswell, 7 -- Returned and suddenly West Ham looked a more solid and accomplished outfit. Coincidence? Certainly not. Unlucky to be sent off in the 74th minute upon receiving his second yellow soon after his first. This was still a welcome return for a player who has been sorely missed.
MF Chekiou Kouyate, 7 -- Another return to form and not a moment too soon. Solid throughout in a largely defensive capacity.
MF Michail Antonio, 6 -- At times it was difficult to ascertain exactly where he was playing. Nevertheless, the former Nottingham Forest winger worked his socks off in both attack and defence.
MF Mark Noble, 6 -- A captain's performance and looked a little more like his normal self, even if he was hampered by a slight knock.
MF Pedro Obiang, 7 -- Worked hard throughout. His presence in the team has coincided with West Ham's sudden upturn in fortunes.
MF Dimitri Payet, 7 -- His presence on the pitch was enough to worry the Palace players and, although not at his best, the French international did enough to keep the opposition on their toes.
MF Manuel Lanzini, 7 -- Scored the only goal in superb fashion -- flicking in off a sublime low cross from Creswell. Always busy and constantly probing.
FW Simone Zaza, 6 -- Zaza still looks off the pace of the Premier League, but this was nonetheless an improved performance. A goal may make all the difference to the Italian's continued development at West Ham.
FW Jonathan Calleri, N/R -- Subbed on after 87 minutes to put late pressure on the Palace defence, the Argentinian didn't really have enough time to stamp his mark on the game.
DF Havard Nordveit, N/R -- A substitute for Lanzini on 89 minutes to help the Hammers close off the game.
MF Edimilson Fernandes, N/R -- Another late substitution to ensure West Ham saw the game out.