West Ham suffered their fifth consecutive Premier League defeat after being well beaten at home by Brentford.
Ivan Toney put the visitors ahead with his 12th league goal of the season before Josh DaSilva doubled the lead.
The Hammers were booed by a frustrated London Stadium crowd, with this defeat keeping them only one point above the relegation zone.
The game also ended on a sour note for Brentford, as Toney was taken off on a stretcher with a knee injury.
The victory sees the Bees rise to ninth in the Premier League.
Not since a run between March and April 2017, under the management of Slaven Bilic, have West Ham lost five consecutive games in the league.
Five-and-a-half years later, West Ham has enjoyed many highs under the management of David Moyes – however, this defeat puts the Scotsman’s role under serious question.
It is not just the fact of another defeat, but the manner in which the goals were conceded.
Both first-half goals came from West Ham failing to properly defend throw-ins, and both came after periods in the game when they had enjoyed good attacking spells.
The opener arrived in the 18th minute, where a straightforward long throw by Mathias Jensen was flicked on by Mathias Jorgensen. Christian Norgaard hit his swivelling volley well, and after it was saved by Lukasz Fabianski, Toney reacted first to follow up and stab home.
The second, shortly before half-time, was even worse from a West Ham perspective. Toney played a simple lobbed ball over the top of the sleeping home defence from a throw-in near the halfway line.
Da Silva outmuscled and outpaced Aaron Cresswell to streak through and slot past Fabianski for his first goal since August.
These teams will meet again in the FA Cup third round on 7 January. Whether Moyes remains in post for that fixture remains to be seen.
In complete contrast to West Ham, Brentford has set a new club Premier League record of five consecutive games unbeaten. The Bees have not had a longer top-flight unbeaten run since they went six games without defeat between February and March 1939.
Things could have been different had West Ham taken their chances – notably when Declan Rice struck the post early on and when Emerson Palmieri stung the gloves of David Raya with a near-post drive.
However, Brentford saw out the second half in relative comfort. This result, combined with the 2-2 draw against Tottenham on Boxing Day, will leave Thomas Frank satisfied with how his side has returned to action following the World Cup.
One question which remains however is what Brentford will do should a long-term injury rule out Toney.
This is the stark reality they could face after the forward, tipped by many for a place in England’s 2022 World Cup squad, jarred his knee in the turf after an innocuous challenge for a late corner.
Toney was left banging the turf, his face screwed up in clear pain, before being carried from the field on a stretcher.
“Of course, it didn’t look great, but I’ve also been in this game long enough to know that you never know exactly what it is until it’s been assessed over the following days,” Frank said.
“Hopefully it’s a minor injury, a minor thing, there’s a good chance for that, but of course it could be worse. We don’t know yet.”
Even if the injury is not as bad as it first appears, Toney also faces being banned if FA charges of breaching betting rules are proven. He has until January 4 to respond regarding the 262 alleged breaches.
On the field, Toney remains one of the Premier League’s deadliest strikers. He scored his 12th league goal of the season here, the same as his 2021-22 total, and he ends the calendar year of 2022 with 20 Premier League goals – only Harry Kane, with 26, has scored more.
Toney celebrated his strike by baiting the London Stadium crowd, crossing his arms in a symbol closely associated with the Hammers.
It demonstrates Brentford’s dominance over West Ham in this fixture – they have won all three Premier League meetings.
source – BBC