61 min: West Ham sub: Vlasic departs the scene and Masuaku comes on for West Ham. That’s a defender coming on for an attacker but it’s also Masuaku, a man who always brings chaos.
Goal! West Ham 2-3 Leeds (Harrison, 60 hat-trick)
Well! Leeds Leeds Leeds. The ball spills in midfield and Raphina sets up Harrison, whose finish for his third, is an absolute beauty. What a game!
58 min: Vlasic, who has become more prominent, cuts back to ping n a cross. It’s cleared but West Ham pile on and on. Harrison eventually relieves the danger but there’s nobody up front to hold it.
56 min: Still chances at the other end where Dallas just fails to get to a cross.
53 min: Antonio really is an expert at leading the line, and it doesn’t feel like long ago that he was playing as an attacking wing-back. Leeds really on the ropes now, and that’s down to the pressure West Ham are ratcheting up.
Goal! West Ham 2-2 Leeds (Fornals, 52)
Neat forward play from Antonio, who corrects his own poor control and plays in Fornals. Nice, neat and angled finish. The pressure has already paid off.
50 min: More groans as Fornals’ pass goes astray. The Leeds contingent in full voice, even as Ayling makes a mess as Antonio almost sets up Rice.
48 min: The half-time beers seem to have added a sense of disquiet among home fans. They aren’t happy at the way their team is playing.
46 min: We are back on, and West Ham begin like a train, Scottish invective frothing around their ears. Can Leeds’ brave band of nine senior players – eight are on the pitch now – and kids hang on?
Half-time: West Ham 1-2 Leeds
It finishes with James whipping one at goal that Fabianski’s fingertips direct away, but only just. A thrilling end to a breathless half in which patched-up Leeds have been excellent and West Ham caught cold, while still showing flashes of danger. Football, fun isn’t it?
45+3 min: Bielsa assumes his usual crouching position on the sideline. His team, battered and decimated, have come through for him, and almost have a third when Bate’s pass to Raphina is directed to James, and the shot is straight at Fabianski. He really should have done much better.
45+1 min: Bowen’s free-kick is a waste, and Struijk guides it out. There’s been four minutes added on of a breathless half of football.
45 min: Koch is booked for a clatter on Antonio, a touch of revenge there, perhaps.
43 min: There’s been very little time for thinking here. Rice, with a squawk, calls for a corner and gets one. Cresswell will attempt to whip in another. Bowen gets to it again but this time he is crowded out and can only head over.
41 min: Declan Rice makes another of his runs beyond the defence, surging on to a pass from Lanzini but can’t get a shot on goal. The angle was just a little too acute.
39 min: Dan James goes close now. We have quite a game on our hands here, and all credit to Leeds for continuing to show such spirit and adventure.
Goal! West Ham 1-2 Leeds (Harrison, 38)
Well well! Another Leeds corner, another from the left, and Ayling heads down, and Harrison taps in at the post. No offside or infringement, says VAR and Leeds lead.
36 min: Have to feel sympathy for Leeds. The injury to Forshaw derailed them completely. The defending was not good for the equaliser but this is a team running on empty.
Goal! West Ham 1-1 Leeds (Bowen, 34)
It’s that man again. Cresswell’s corner is whipped in. Koch and co can’t get to it and Cresswell, with some neat movement, nods home, leaving Stuart Dallas for dead.
32 min: Hjelde, the new man, and Dawson, square off, youngster versus veteran and the kid wins the day in forcing Dawson to concede a goal kick.
30 min: Close, so close for the Hammers! Dawson and Rice climb highest, and Dawson somehow heads a corner from the left down and wide. That’s a bad miss. On the sidelines, David Moyes calls for calm.
28 min: Mike Dean is the ref here, and the home fans are getting antsy with him. He waves away what looks like a Leeds handball. So, Leeds have two teenagers playing, and making debuts. For some reason, such a state of affairs is beyond Arsenal, who presumably have a number of teenagers who would like to make debuts, too.
26 min: Ayling fails to play to the whistle and West Ham almost force a chance after Fornals escapes the dallying defender and Antonio has a shot blocked. West Ham now have the momentum.
25 min: Booking for Antonio, after his control lets him down and he slides into Koch and clatters the defender. Leeds’ casualty list piles up.
22 min: Disaster strikes for Leeds, as two players pull up with hamstring problems. Firpo is going off and so, sadly, is Forshaw, whose run of seven full matches after that absence, is going off too with a similar problem. He looks gutted. Lewis Bate makes his Premier League debut in place of Forshaw while Firpo just mooches around with Harrison playing on the left flank. Firpo is a passenger in the style you see from matches in the 1950s and 1960s.
20 min: Dan James, always a willing runner, is the source of problems for the Hammers. He looks a good buy for Leeds, and someone who would still be of use to that indolent Manchester United attack.
18 min: Junior Firpo looks to have a muscular problem, and that youthful Leeds bench may soon be called into commission.
16 min: Declan Rice goes on the lam, and he causes havoc in the Leeds defence. Only desperate tackles on Bowen and Antonio clear the danger.
14 min: Reports of Leeds’ demise seem exaggerated. They’ve been excellent while West Ham have been unusually circumspect. The Leeds Leeds Leeds fans are making themselves heard in the London Stadium. Whisper it, but the London seems to have a good atmosphere these days. Funny how a good team can change such things. The Hammers fans – up there with the Goodison Groan for moaning – may soon be getting on their team’s back if this continues.
12 min: The Hammers wake from their slumber and go on the attack. Antonio is in the thick of it. Leeds looking like the Leeds of last season as they pile back on the counter. The excellent Forshaw plays a beauty of a pass to Dan James, and the shot is just over.
Goal! West Ham 0-1 Leeds (Harrison, 10)
That’s been coming, Leeds have been on it. Cresswell is beaten by a long ball, Raphina passes across the initial shot is blocked and Forshaw sets up Harrison to whip home. Klich had the first shot and cool play meant the second was going in.
8 min: The corner came to nothing from that Leeds attack. West Ham’s defence is depleted but retains significant power. Another corner gives them more work to do, with Dallas taking, and Firpo directs the ball behind.
6 min: Leeds pass it around the back and it’s West Ham doing most of the pressing. But Harrison gets into a dangerous position, cutting into the box, and having a shot blocked.
4 min: Bowen, busy as ever, collides with Koch and Leeds have a free-kick. Raphina drifts the ball to Luke Ayling but it’s nowhere near the intended target.
3 min: Leeds, patched up and frankly knackered, set off at quite a rate. But the first half-chance comes when Vlasic whips in the ball and Antonio doesn’t quite get to it.
1 min: The players take the knee, to the tune of I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, and away we go.
Ezra, a pessimistic Leeds fan, gets in touch: “As a Leeds fan who adores Marcelo Bielsa and tries to learn from the great man, I hate to use excuses, but a glance at the bench today is more than a little worrying.Aside from maybe Rodrigo, there is no one there who is a seasoned professional, and with no Phillips, Bamford and Cooper, it will be a miracle to escape with a point.”
So, here we go at the London Stadium, where both teams are ready and raring to play football. Which is no longer a given, it seems.
Perhaps Romelu Lukaku could watch Michail Antonio today to see how it’s done in the Premier League.
David Moyes, the West Ham manager, speaks to Sky Sports.
We have been playing quite well, and we haven’t had one player who has stood out and got us 15 goals. [On Bowen] I think he can continue to improve, when we bought him from Hull we hoped we could build him to be a Premier League player and he did that from the start. I think he’s gone to another level. Let’s hope that keeps happening. Leeds are a real tough opponent. I don’t think it’s easy when you play them one week and then the next. Today we are going to have to play well. We’ve had injuries, we’ve had Covid as well, but seemingly not enough to get games called off.
Marcelo Bielsa, ahead of his 150th league game at Leeds, has been speaking to Sky Sports.
We have tried to correct some things that happened in the last game, try to get behind more in attack and make too more difficult to play at the back. Even if [West Ham last week]’s victory was fair, we were always able to be in the game and we avoided a mark difference between us. No, because we didn’t have any reason to ask for [a postponement]. The first round of fixtures we haven’t picked up as many points as we imagined.
Leeds’ comeback kid, Adam Forshaw, signed a new contract, having been out for two years before returning earlier this season. He’s just been speaking to Sky Sport.
To repay a lot of faith they showed in me, my family love it here. it was a no-brainer in me. A couple of the teams below us got some good results and are beginning to pick up points, we are aware of that.
Some transfer news, from Jacob Steinberg.
West Ham are unchanged from the team that beat Norwich in midweek, while Marcelo Bielsa makes two changes from the team that beating Burnley 3-1 on 2 January. Dan James replaces Tyler Roberts with Diego Llorente suspended so Pascal Struijk comes in. And what that means for Leeds is still no Patrick Bamford, with Rodrigo making the bench.
With Arsenal not wanting to play Tottenham and Manchester United flopping to that draw with Aston Villa, this is a chance for West Ham to steal a march in the race for the top four. This is a reheat of last week’s FA Cup match, won rather easily by the Hammers, and Leeds continue to be short of players, with Patrick Bamford still unlikely to start. Here’s a mini-preview from this week’s 10 things to look out for.
As Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United falter in their chase for a top-four place, West Ham have been taking care of business. The expectation is a thin squad will eventually run out of energy, as happened last season, but David Moyes’s team are currently in fourth place on merit. The improvement in the last 18 months of the likes of Jarrod Bowen, Manuel Lanzini and Declan Rice is a tribute to their manager, a rediscovery of the team-building expertise that first made his reputation at Preston and Everton. Rice is a reminder that stars can be made rather than bought in, while Bowen, who scored twice in Wednesday’s win over Norwich, is a reminder that stars can also be bought and made from the lower tiers. Such old-fashioned values are prevailing over the elite clubs chasing West Ham’s tail, and a repeat of last week’s 2-0 FA Cup defeat of Leeds would keep the Hammers ahead.
Bowen, who has helped West Ham reach the last 16 of the Europa League, has become invaluable. His versatility enables him to play through the middle when Michail Antonio is missing, but he is at his best on the right. Bowen’s left foot allows him to cause havoc with inswinging crosses, he can be relied on to track back to protect his full-back and he is always willing to get into goalscoring positions, even though his finishing could be more refined at times.