Five things from West Ham: Neal Maupay rides the roller coaster, Tariq Lamptey explodes and Graham Potter's injured trio
Neal Maupay’s last minute bicycle kick cancelled out Tomas Soucek’s early header as Brighton made it nine Premier League games against West Ham without defeat.
Pablo Fornals hit the bar with a sweetly struck volley and VAR came to Brighton’s rescue to deny West Ham a second. After a long wait, Michail Antonio was judged to have got a touch on the ball from an offside position on its way into the net.
Here’s five things we learned from the draw at the London Stadium.
Brighton caught cold
The Seagulls had gone three league games without conceding in the first half. Newcastle scored after 66 minutes, Aston Villa after 80. It was an early blow for Brighton.
More so for the fact that they had the first chance of the game. Maupay dragged a shot just wide of the far post after only two minutes having intercepted a loose pass by Said Benrahma.
It made it hard for Brighton to dominate the ball and create space. West Ham had the lead, they didn’t need to press. They just needed to stay solid and limit the Seagulls to as few clear-cut chances as possible, which they did for the most part.
Injuries mounting up for Graham Potter
Jeremy Sarmiento made his full debut for Brighton but it only lasted 13 minutes. The Ecuador international turned away from Jarrod Bowen, passed the ball onwards before going to ground with what Potter confirmed was a hamstring injury.
He was joined 20 minutes later by Adam Webster who was seen holding his calf while receiving treatment. The defender had only returned to action against Newcastle having missed four league games with a hamstring problem.
Adam Lallana then added insult to injury having gone down in the 85th minute with an issue with his leg. This was after Lamptey was introduced, meaning Brighton had no subs left to replace the midfielder and had to play the closing stages a goal down and then a man down as well.
Potter confirmed in his post-match interview that neither Sarmiento, Webster nor Lallana will feature on Saturday against Southampton because of the injuries they picked up this evening.
Brighton need more goal contributions
Potter pointed out in his post-match press conference how Maupay is the eighth top scorer in the league with five goals and three of those above him- Mohamed Salah (13), Diogo Jota (8) and Sadio Mane (8)- all play for the same club.
His point being that Maupay isn’t doing a bad job as the club’s number nine this season. He needs help. Only five other players have found the net this season. The only team to have less goal scorers is Norwich, who have only had four players contribute.
Jakub Moder could, and probably should, have been the seventh. He had his side’s best chance of the first half when Maupay sliced open West Ham’s defence, but Lukasz Fabianski made himself big enough to stop it. Moder will feel it should have been the equaliser.
Lallana, who is also yet to score this season, curled a first-time effort wide in the second half. The shock on his face that it ended the wrong side of the far post said it all.
High press reaps rewards
Brighton had 80% possession from the first 20 minutes. Lewis Dunk has passed the ball 1,029 times already this season. This is a patient passing game waiting for the right pass.
What was interesting tonight was seeing Brighton making it hard for teams to pass out, pouncing on mistakes which led to chances like Maupay’s early on. Sarmiento, despite getting injured, also added to their ability to win the ball back high.
Young West Ham left back Ben Johnson was taking no chances in losing the ball in dangerous areas along with others. This was another reason why Antonio was kept so quiet because the service to him was long aerial balls, competing with physical centre backs in Shane Duffy and Dunk.
Winning the ball in these areas got Brighton fans off their seats and could improve their goal tally, even if for most of the game they are seeing Dunk’s passing range.
Tariq Lamptey gets his first assist of the season
Lamptey had the desired impact in his 20-minute cameo. The cross hung up just right for Maupay to work Craig Dawson and create space and power for the bicycle kick.
The full back had started his past three games but had to settle with being an impact substitute and that’s exactly what he was. He is so dangerous in these attacking positions and makes an obvious difference even if he only plays a small part of the game as shown today.
Adding goal contributions to his take-ons will take him up another level.