Michail Antonio scored his first goal since October as West Ham defeated a Burnley side lacking a cutting edge, at London Stadium.
The 30-year-old forward, who coming into the game had only made four appearances since October because of hamstring problems, slotted home Pablo Fornals’ cross in the ninth minute.
The Hammers were the greater attacking threat and went close again when Angelo Ogbonna’s header came off the woodwork, before Antonio’s effort was cleared off the line by Ben Mee.
Sean Dyche’s Clarets never really got going as an attacking force, although they improved marginally after the break following Dwight McNeil’s introduction. The midfielder produced a cross that came off the bar while Mee sent a header a foot wide.
Brighton’s win at Leeds means Burnley are now down to 17th, four points above the drop zone, and West Ham are up to eighth.
David Moyes’ version of the ‘West Ham way’ seems to be doing the trick at the moment.
The Hammers have 10 more points than they did at this stage last season, and have scored six more goals. The manager likened himself to a headteacher this week, stating his side “must do better”, but many will think his players have already surpassed pre-season expectations.
Key to this healthier return has been the addition of creative and goalscoring midfielders such as Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek, who have become vital cogs in the side a year after signing, while £30m capture Said Benrahma appears to be gradually rediscovering his Brentford form.
Winger Bowen, who cost £18m, has an incredible engine and against the Clarets appeared to act as a second striker to Antonio because of the amount of times he found himself in the area. It was his good work on the left of the area which allowed Formals to provide the cross for the opener.
Antonio, 30, was already important to Moyes and is now even more so after the Sebastien Haller experiment failed. The former winger scored a glut of goals towards the end of last season and began this campaign well before hamstring injuries hampered his progress.
He kept his cool for his goal when Burnley’s defenders did not and later saw a header cleared off the line.
If he can stay fit for the rest of the season then expect a glowing end-of-term report from Moyes. Dyche has been in this position before with Burnley, but this time he might not have to rely on his man-management skills to pull the team out of the mire.
New owners have promised him funds for January signings, with reports linking them with two midfielders. They certainly need better service for their front men.
Ashley Barnes failed to produce an effort on goal while Chris Wood’s only strike was a first-half drive which drifted a foot wide. Burnley have now failed to score in six of their past seven away league games, and they have only managed nine goals in the league so far this season.
Fans should not panic yet, but it could be a different mood with matches against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City to come in the next three weeks.
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