The Hammers are yet to beat Brighton in the seven attempts since their return to the Premier League, and given the side sent out by Moyes you’d wonder if he was too concerned about changing that stat.
The need to rotate players across this hectic festive schedule is clear and understandable. But with the options like Manuel Laznini and Said Benrahma pretty fresh the choice to start Mark Noble at No10 raised one or two eyebrows in east London.
Without the pace of Michail Antonio – sat in a box with just a takeaway lunch for company – leading the line the first half combination of Noble and Sebastien Haller was hardly going to cause any headaches.
Moyes acted with two half-time changes – sending Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko on for Noble and Jarrod Bowen, who too had struggled to cause problems for the visitors. It was a surprise Moyes waited so long in truth.
The two changes had the desired effect. But after Lanzini’s outings in recent weeks and with the decision to give Pablo Fornals a break, many were left wondering why the Argentine did not get the nod from the off.
It could be viewed as a triumph for Moyes that he spotted the problem and addressed it at the break, though it was an obvious change to make after such a turgid first half. Brighton had hardly been brilliant themselves, but were simply allowed the chances to go in ahead by their hosts, who lacked any sort of energy or spark across the first 45 minutes.
West Ham were eventually dug out by Tomas Soucek, ever reliable at a corner, but the point will mask a poor performance and can be considered a lucky escape. The big hope for West Ham is that the mistakes made in the first half will not be repeated by Moyes going forward.
The Lanzini of old emerging
Having come off the bench to such great effect against Crystal Palace the last time West Ham were at home, Moyes turned to Lanzini to transform a dire first half display here.
The midfielder did just that. Having replaced Mark Noble in the No10 role, Lanzini lifted the pace of the entire team with clever movement and sharp passing that West Ham so sorely lacked in the first half. His quick thinking teed up Ben Johnson’s goal.
After nearly two years of injury problems and being on the fringes of the squad, there are signs that the Laznini of old is beginning to return.
His late leveller at Tottenham will be fondly remembered but the showing here and against Palace are probably more encouraging to Moyes.
A nail in the Noble coffin?
It goes without saying that Mark Noble has been an incredible servant for West Ham.
His standing and record for the club means that managers in recent years have often struggled with whether or not to move the West Ham captain to the fringes. Moyes looked to have done so successfully this season, with the rampaging duo of Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice shining for the most part.
Moyes has said on a few occasions that Noble still has a big role to play this season, and that he would not entertain the idea of passing the captaincy to Rice on a permanent basis.
But Noble’s performance in the first half against Brighton leaves you wondering when we will next see the 33-year-old start a Premier League game again.
He was handed an uncomfortable job in being deployed as a No10 behind a target man striker with the Hammers trying to play on the break, but Noble slowed down almost every attack in the first half and was rightly hooked at half time.
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