Wolves beat West Ham to move out of relegation zone
Wolves climbed out of the Premier League bottom three with victory over fellow strugglers West Ham at Molineux.
Daniel Podence’s second-half strike rewarded a positive display from the hosts.
West Ham, however, looked toothless up front as they fell to a sixth defeat in seven league games.
Manager David Moyes faces increasing scrutiny after his side slipped into the relegation zone.
Moyes’ men badly underperforming
In defending his record at West Ham, Moyes quite rightly points to the previous two and a half seasons before this one, when he saved the club from relegation, then secured European qualification through their league position in successive seasons for the first time in their history.
The problem for Moyes is that many of the little things West Ham have been doing right for the past couple of years are not quite working for them this season.
Jarrod Bowen last season and Thomas Soucek the year before were outstanding performers. Currently, they are ineffective from an attacking perspective.
Bowen surged to the byline towards the end of the first half and Soucek made a trademark burst into the box, but the end product of the industry was an easy catch for Wolves keeper Jose Sa.
By the end of October last season, Michail Antonio had scored seven goals for West Ham. He has scored 11 in 62 games since. Although he tried to unsettle Wolves’ central defensive pair of Nathan Collins and Maximilian Kilman, he never managed it.
Said Benrahma did bring a low save out of Sa but even with fellow substitute Gianluca Scamacca joining Antonio in the two-man frontline many Hammers fans have been calling for, it was not until the final five minutes that West Ham built up any attacking momentum.
Scamacca headed a far-post opportunity wide but there appeared to be a lack of belief among the West Ham players which was certainly shared by many fans at the end.
Wolves on the march under Lopetegui
Lopetegui would not have put his reputation on the line in a Premier League relegation battle without the promise of some firepower being added to his existing squad.
Two new signings were involved on Saturday, with the promise of a third arriving in the form of PSG winger Pablo Sarabia.
The late introduction of Mario Lemina for his debut brought stability to Wolves in central midfield, but by then Lopetegui’s first transfer window recruit, Atletico Madrid forward Matheus Cunha, had already made an outstanding contribution.
Cunha may not have scored but Wolves have been crying out for an effective forward with the Brazilian’s pace.
By moving into wide areas, Cunha allowed the talented Wolves midfielders to take up positions of danger centrally. Skipper Ruben Neves threatened on a couple of occasions before the interval and also struck the bar after it, by which time Wolves were on top.
Lopetegui will clearly keep pushing, on and off the pitch but, after such a miserable few months, Molineux is alive with optimism again.