West Ham 3 West Brom 3 match report: Nicolas Anelka plays sinister role in East End soap opera

Striker’s celebration comes under scrutiny while Hammers’ resolve can’t silence the boos

Upton Park

Never mind Danny Dyer at the Queen Vic, the other EastEnders Christmas special has become a soap opera all of its own. In the Boxing Day edition, West Ham were beaten by Arsenal and sank into the relegation zone for the first time this season. In part two, they stayed there after leading twice against West Bromwich Albion in between the boos and were saved by the width of a post from a second home defeat in three days.

Meanwhile the central figure, Nicolas Anelka, was accused of what could be construed as an anti-Semitic gesture after scoring twice in his first game since October. Albion are the sixth Premier League club for whom Anelka has bagged goals, and the West Ham manager, Sam Allardyce, having brought him back to this country with Bolton, knew all about the striker’s ability.

His team’s back-four was not in the best of shape to prevent the goals, having lost James Collins and then James Tomkins to injury and playing most of the game with two full-backs in the centre of defence. When Anelka struck twice in six minutes immediately before the interval, overhauling Joe Cole’s early goal, Allardyce seemed to be on a slippery slope.

He responded by replacing Carlton Cole with Modibo Maiga, who scored a fine equaliser and then set up Kevin Nolan for 3-2. Albion, however, equalised within two minutes and Saido Berahino, who scored it, later hit the post from a free-kick. West Ham stay 19th in the table after one win in 12 League games and have another huge game on Wednesday away to Fulham.

Instinctive boos at the half-time whistle were followed by more discontent in the second half but Allardyce insisted his team would have won, had their regular centre-halves not been injured. “The sad thing was not protecting the winning position we had got,” he said.

“It’s really bitter for me, that pill. We just mentally switched off. Anybody could have won it then as fatigue kicks in. It was a remarkable performance considering we had four full-backs across the defence.”

The hope is that Andy Carroll, who has not played all season, will be back within three weeks as even with Carlton Cole scoring in the two previous games against Tottenham and Arsenal, West Ham have looked badly under-strength in attack.

Maiga has potential, and it was significant that his goal came soon after having an even better effort saved. Ben Foster just managed to claw the first shot for a corner, which gave Maiga the confidence to try again in the next attack, that effort flying lower but right through the goalkeeper, who should have done better. 

Foster was unhappy too at allowing Joe Cole’s third-minute shot past him from an angle. Failing to build on that start, the home side were grateful that Albion lacked any penetration against a hastily revamped defence until the 39th minute, when Chris Brunt sent Anelka through to score his first goal for Albion and first in the Premier League since August 2011. At that point Jussi Jaaskelainen, restored in goal, had little to do but within a few minutes West Ham failed to clear a corner and Anelka bundled in his second, prompting boos as the home side left the pitch. 

Their recovery was a spirited one, bringing an equaliser in the 64th minute from Maiga, who then headed down Mark Noble’s cross for Nolan to hook in. But within two minutes more, Berahino, the England Under-21 prospect, drove in a lovely left-footed shot off the far post. He could then have won the game, striking the far post with a free-kick that seemed to be curling in but obstinately stayed out.

Albion’s caretaker manager, Keith Downing, who said he could not be satisfied with his team’s defending, has overseen three drawn games and could still have the role for a fourth, against Newcastle on Wednesday.

Albion have gone cool on one Spaniard, Pepe Mel, who wanted to bring his own backroom team, and have interviewed another, the former Osasuna and Bilbao coach Jose Luis Mendilib. The sudden availability of Malky Mackay, however, gives them an attractive alternative, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is more likely to go there than Cardiff according to his fellow Norwegian Jan Aage Fjortoft. “I’ve been told to carry on and I’ll do that,” Downing said. He would doubtless prefer to do so without the socio-religious-political controversies.

Line-ups:

West Ham (4-4-1-1): Jaaskelainen; O’Brien, Tomkins (Demel, 8), McCartney, Rat; J Cole (Collison, 82),  Diamé, Noble, Jarvis; Nolan; C Cole (Maiga, h-t).

West Bromwich (3-5-1-1): Foster; McAuley, Olsson, Lugano (Amalfitano, 67); Jones, Mulumbu, Morrison (Yacob, 77), Brunt, Ridgewell; Anelka; Berahino (Sessègnon, 84).

Referee:  Mike Dean

Man of the match: Noble

Match rating:  8/10

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
News
David Ryall in Harry Potter
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015