West Ham “grabbed” the vital three points against Fulham, the London derby at Craven Cottage was decided by an own goal by home player Harrison Reed after an action by Vladimir Coufal. However, the “homesteaders” complained that the Czech representative played with his hand.
After a long time, the two Czech footballers in the English Premier League played an entire match side by side. Tomáš Souček and Vladimír Coufal contributed to an important rescue win for the Hammers, which did not offer football beauty, but brought their club into slightly calmer waters: in fourteenth place, three points above the relegation zone.
Manager David Moyes seems to be grasping at straws in the form of players who have been mainstays in the past two highly successful seasons.
He made five changes in the line-up, and out of many expensive reinforcements, this time he only put striker Danny Ings in the starting line-up, otherwise he bet on “old friends” – Vladimír Coufalo, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Michail Antonio or Pablo Fornals. He also kept the heavily criticized Souček in the lineup. And it paid off.
“The old guard is always ready,” the Spanish midfielder Fornals wrote on his social networks after the match, perhaps slightly provocatively.
West Ham spent over 170 million pounds on reinforcements in the current season, only two giants from the Premier League spent more: Chelsea and Manchester United. In the end, however, a return to the “low cost” variant was released.
“The performance was again terrible as a result, but the team defended with heart, passion and finally showed some organization of the game, which we have rarely seen this season. It was clearly no coincidence that Moyes returned to the back four from last season,” wrote the club server Hammer News.
Coufal also received praise, as he returned to the starting line-up for the first time since his heel injury and immediately showed that he is a more reliable option on the right side of the defense than the often erring German representative Thilo Kehrer.
“He should have returned to the team earlier after the national team break. His tenacity and combativeness helped the team,” assessed the London Evening Standard and awarded Coufal an above-average grade of 7 out of 10. Football.London magazine voted the same way.
“Moyes preferred the German now, even though Coufal was already fine, now Cech came back and immediately made an impression. He played an important role in the only goal, made a number of good defensive saves, was very reliable,” the analysis read.
The 30-year-old ex-Slav player coped very well with one of the fastest backs in the entire league, the American Antonee Robinson, on the right side. Even the Fulham fan site mentioned that this season the otherwise excellent “speedster” was tamed by Coufal this time.
West Ham fans also appreciated Coufal’s passion after the match:
The Czech got past the American shortly before the only goal of the match, but in the fight he probably hit the ball with his hand, which the referees did not notice. Even VAR did not return to the situation, which Fulham’s Portuguese coach Marco Silva did not understand.
“We’re a bit frustrated because they scored a goal that should have been disallowed. It was a clear hand from Coufal. Again, it’s hard to understand why such a goal was awarded and VAR didn’t check the moment,” said the punished manager, who had to watch the match from the stands and had no at the disposal of the long-term distanced gunner Aleksandar Mitrović.
The second Czech representative, Tomáš Souček, also got a better rating from the derby than in previous cases.
“His physicality was valid, he worked well in the pair with Declan Rice. Still not the best in terms of passing, but he held the ball better this time than in previous weeks,” rated 6 out of 10 Football.London.
“He was a little lucky to survive the beating at Newcastle and stay in the squad, but this time he was really needed in midfield,” the Evening Standard noted.
The Hammers now face three tough weeks in England until the end of April, with six more games to play before the end of the month. On Thursday, they will start the quarter-finals of the European Conference League on the field of Belgian Ghent, and on Sunday they will face a challenging home derby against Premier League leader Arsenal.
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