Match Reports

Albion up to seventh after rare stalemate

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Seagulls draw 0-0 with West Ham United at the London Stadium but had chances to take all three points.

By Bruce Talbot • 02 January 2024

By Paul Hazlewood
Jan Paul van Hecke and Jarrod Bowen contest a loose ball.

Albion moved up to seventh after their first Premier League goalless draw since October 2022, but will feel they should have left the London Stadium with all three points.

Alphonse Areola was much the busier keeper in a game of few clear-cut chances, twice denying Pascal Gross at close range before making a fine save at full stretch to keep out Adam Lallana’s fiercely struck shot late on.

Albion’s last league stalemate was 48 games ago against Nottingham Forest but apart from lack of a cutting edge there was little wrong with the performance.

By Paul Hazlewood
Pervis Estupinan makes a spectacular clearance on his first start since September.

Adam Webster, who was making only his seventh appearance of the season and first since November 12, was one of two changes to the team that beat Spurs 4-2 last Thursday with Pervis Estupinan making his first league start since September.

Webster certainly saw plenty of the ball in the opening stages as Albion dominated possession, but it wasn’t until midway through the first half before either keeper was tested.

Areola readjusted his possession to grab Facundo Buonanotte’s long-range strike before Jason Steele was twice called into action inside a minute. The Albion keeper didn’t know that Jarrod Bowen was offside when he latched onto James Ward-Prowse’s pass and fired towards the far post but Steele got a touch to take it onto the post. He then blocked Ward Prowse’s close-range volley with an outstretched left leg. It was West Ham’s last clear-cut chance of the night.

By Paul Hazlewood
Adam Webster makes his first appearance since 12 November.

Albion went close again on the half hour. Danny Welbeck headed skipper Pascal Gross’s free kick across the face of goal to Jack Hinshelwood, and his volley on the turn was blocked by Areola.

Albion should have scored two minutes before the break. Welbeck fed James Milner, who was equalling Ryan Giggs' 632 Premier League appearances, on the left. His lovely cross picked out Gross’s late run perfectly, but the German directed his header straight at Areola when anything either side would have been a goal.  

Referee Sam Borrott ignored penalty appeals early in the second half when a prostrate Emerson seemed to block Buonanotte’s cross with his arm and the Argentinian was involved again when Albion threatened on 54 minutes. His pass opened up space for Welbeck to take aim with his right foot from 12 yards but Areola made another good reflex save.

By Paul Hazlewood

The Hammers’ keeper made another intervention on the hour after great play by Joao, who slalomed across the face of goal from the left but his shot was too close to Areola.

Albion seemed to be getting on top then West Ham briefly roused themselves. Tomas Soucek stabbed a close-range shot wide of the far post after a deflection on Said Benrahma’s cross took the ball into his path.

Evan Ferguson replaced Welbeck midway through the half and nearly made an immediate impact when he controlled Buonanotte’s pass with his left foot and take the ball over Edson Alvarez to create space for a shot with his right which was half a yard wide.

By Paul Hazlewood
Joao Pedro goes down under Tomas Soucek's challenge.

Albion kept pushing. Gross met Milner’s cross with a header that lacked power and drifted wide; Lallana’s shot was blocked by Soucek after fellow sub Jakub Moder set him up; Ferguson nearly converted Lallana’s lay-off but Angelo Ogbonna stretched to make an important block then Moder, on the stretch, couldn’t keep his volley down after Joao and Milner combined down the left.

Areola saved his best until last, flinging himself to his right to push away Lallana’s powerful strike with inside the D before flopping on Hinshelwood’s looping header in the last action of the game. Only one side had looked like winning for long spells, but Albion had to settle for maintaining their unbeaten Premier League record at the London Stadium.

Albion: Steele, Hinshelwood, van Hecke, Webster (Moder 75), Estupinan; Milner, Gross, Gilmour; Buonanotte (Lallana 75), Welbeck (Ferguson 66), Joao.

Subs not used: Verbruggen, Dahoud, Baleba, Samuels, Baker-Boaitey, Kavanagh.

Referee: Sam Barrott