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  • Writer's pictureBy Dan Evans

Bowen delivers for Moyes once more as West Ham boss makes his case to remain

West Ham United (2) 4 Bowen 5’, 7’, 63’, Emerson 69’

Brentford (1) 2 Maupay 13’, Wissa 82’

 

For all the uncertainty that has surrounded David Moyes’ future as West Ham manager in these tumultuous most recent 12 months of his second tenure, one thing remains abundantly clear: when he is most in need of a result he will get it.

 

Whether it be securing survival at the end of last season with a handful of gritty league wins; clinching the Europa Conference League title itself in Prague; or making a positive enough start to the current campaign to see him through to this point, he has developed a knack of hanging in there to go with a thick skin that wards off criticism.

 

He declared late last week that there is a contract on the table for him waiting for him to sign and extend his stay at the London Stadium beyond this summer and in to a fifth full season. This win against Brentford, West Ham’s first in any competition in 2024, moves them level on points with the European qualification places and undoubtedly supports his case to remain.

 

The night itself belonged to Jarrod Bowen, who has so regularly delivered for Moyes – never more so than in scoring the winner against Fiorentina last summer – as he netted a perfectly taken hat-trick. Yet there was still enough in the rest of the performance to suggest that Moyes is not quite done in East London just yet.

 

“It’s our first win of the year, which I don’t like saying, but I was thrilled we got it,” he said. “Most teams in the Premier League will have different periods and months, even Manchester City and Liverpool. We scored a couple of great goals and it’s great to get a result.”

 

West Ham certainly began this one like a team indebted to its underfire boss rather than looking as though they are counting down the days until his potential exit.

 

Competent starts in recent defeats have offered scant reward – Arsenal did not score the first of their recent six here until the 32nd minute – but with Lucas Paqueta back to support the attack and Brentford discombobulated following a taxing midweek trip to Manchester, ample gaps opened up for Bowen to exploit.

 

Brentford could not get to grips with Paqueta on his first start in almost two months and he soon made them pay. Emerson was set away down the left following a quick combination between the Brazilian and James Ward-Prowse, and quite how Bowen found himself in so much room on the edge of the box will mystify Thomas Frank.

 

There was still time for a defender to react once the forward had taken his first touch, yet a powerful snapshot rocketed low into the near corner of the goal without Mark Flekken getting anywhere near it.

 

The visitors had every right to be unsettled by West Ham’s intense start, yet Bowen’s second just two minutes later was entirely down to their own sloppy play.

 

Mathias Jorgensen played an aimless pass into the middle of the park and before anyone in Brentford blue could respond, Bowen was on the ball and moving towards their goal.

 

He found Kudus, who fed Vladimir Coufal on the right flank, and with Bowen entirely unmarked in the middle, he squared and allowed West Ham’s top scorer to turn home a simple finish.

 

Brentford’s players gathered in a huddle before the restart. Their head coach stood at edge of the vast London Stadium technical area in a stunned silence. “I wish I could explain what happened,” he said afterwards. “We didn’t hit a good level [of performance] individually or collectively.”

 

A reaction duly followed. Ivan Toney’s quality has so often shone through in the Premier League regardless of what is going on around him, and in dropping deeper to have more influence on attacking moves he soon showed his class.

 

When Frank Onyeka won back possession on the halfway line and fed the recently returned striker, there looked to be little on. However, a pass just beyond the reach of Edson Alvarez found Keane Lewis-Potter and opened up the Hammers backline.

 

Lewis-Potter fed Maupay and his finish had the requisite height to clear the onrushing Alphonse Areola and find the top corner of the goal.

 

Unsurprisingly, there was a lull after such a frenetic opening to the game, but the ease with which West Ham continued to find joy down both flanks was as clear a sign as any that the visitors had not yet tamed a fearsome front three.

 

There appeared to be little between the sides in an even start to the second half , but West Ham’s quality on the flanks shone through once again.

 

Sergio Reguilon, on a booking, was far too timid in closing down Kudus and that provided all the time he needed to show off a stepover or two before floating a cross on to the head of Bowen to wrap up the England man’s hat-trick and secure the game.

 

The most spectacular goal of the night was still to come though, and as if to display that West Ham are not entirely reliant on their fabulous attacking trident, it came from the boot of one of their less-heralded players.

 

With a beleaguered Brentford defence unable or unwilling to spring forward and close him down in time, Emerson took aim from distance and sent an arrowing strike in to the top right corner. Could there be a more emphatic show of support for his manager?

 

Substitute Yoanne Wissa pulled a goal back for the Bees in the closing stages, and seven minutes of added time meant Moyes could never truly relax. However, with a few more results and performances such as this, he will surely be inking that new deal soon with a pen in one hand and a cigar in the other.

 

West Ham: (4-2-3-1) Areola – Coufal, Mavropanos, Zouma, Emerson – Soucek, Alvarez – Kudus (Johnson 90+4), Ward-Prowse, Paqueta (Antonio 76) – Bowen. Subs not used: Fabianski, Ings, Ogbonna, Aguerd, Earthy, Mubama, Scarles

 

Brentford: (4-3-3) Flekken – Zanka, Ajer, Mee (Collins 61), Reguilon (Roerslev 72) – Jensen (Damsgaard 77), Norgaard, Onyeka (Janelt 72) – Lewis-Potter, Toney, Maupay (Wissa 72). Subs not used: Strakosha, Ghoddos, Baptiste, Yarmoliuk

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