Brighton & Hove Albion secured three huge points to bring West Ham firmly back to earth in Friday night's crunch fixture.
After two successive defeats, Brighton returned to winning ways, securing their first clean sheet of the season in the process.
The first half was played at lightening speed as both sides searched for the opening goal in a tightly contested match. The game's first notable chance took thirteen minutes to arrive, Marko Arnautovic firing a fierce volley goal bound only to see it ricochet out for a corner.
However, just ten minutes later, Brighton's Glenn Murray proved once again why he's West Ham's hoodoo man, calmly diverting the ball into the far corner past Lukasz Fabianski to send the Brighton fans into raptures - his sixth goal in seven appearances against the Hammers.
A slightly rejuvenated West Ham appeared out the tunnel much earlier than their counterparts for the second half, and really took the game to the hosts. Fabián Balbuena missed an absolute sitter, ultimately proving costly as Brighton took the spoils in this closely contested game.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Key Talking Point
Glenn Murray, despite being one of the elder statesmen on the pitch, showed that age is merely a number. Murray put in a really classy performance, showing time and time again that ingenuity can make up for a lack of pace, with some fans on Twitter even suggesting Gareth Southgate should take note.
Don’t know how people can overlook and underestimate Glenn Murray all the time. Has one of the best footballing brains around; will always win and shield possession and clinical in front of goal. Even at his age, should be worthy of an England recognition. #BHAFC— Daniel-Jack Dixon (@DJDixon90) October 5, 2018
Consistently finding clever areas of space, Murray was able to win smart free kicks but also bring his teammates into space effectively. It seemed almost a certainty that he would add to his phenomenal record against West Ham – coming into the game with five in six games.
In the end it was all too easy, as Murray drifted into the six yard box unmarked to coolly place the ball beyond the outstretched arm of Fabianski. Perhaps Murray has a natural knack to arrive at the right time, at the right place...or West Ham are bad at defending.
Player Ratings: Ryan (6), Bruno (7), Duffy (6), Dunk (6), Bong (7), Knockaert (7), Propper (7), Kayal (7), March (7), Jahanbakhsh (7), Murray (8)*
Substitutes: Bissouma (6), Locadia (6) Izquierdo (6)
All that needs to be said has been said already. Murray was fantastic and rightly deserves the plaudits coming his way. He may not be getting any younger, but he more than proved his worth.
It just wasn't March's night. There was nothing wrong with his application, he worked hard but it never really got going for him. His final ball was never quite up to scratch, and in fact the game could've been dead and buried for Brighton had he found a teammate.
West Ham United
Key Talking Point
After truly running riot against Manchester United in their last fixture, many would have expected the Hammers to turn up the heat once again, but that wasn't the case.
After a sustained period of pressure in the first half, the Hammers looked more likely to play knock and run rather than actually make a breakthrough.
Golly, I sure would like West Ham to score a goal— Your Ole Pal Brian (@BrianTenerowicz) October 5, 2018
Balbuena missed an absolute sitter to level the two teams, and West Ham just seemed to lack any clinical edge throughout the 90 minutes, albeit not for a lack of trying. The international break allows Manuel Pellegrini the chance to rejuvenate his squad after succumbing to the highs of beating Manchester United to the lows of losing to Brighton.
Player Ratings: Fabianski (6), Masuaku (4), Diop (6), Balbuena (5), Zabaleta (6), Rice (6), Anderson (6), Obiang (5), Noble (6), Yarmolenko (6), Arnautovic (7)
Substitutes: Antonio (6), Lucas (6) Snodgrass (6)
Marco Arnautovic was one of few West Ham players who can leave the pitch with their head held high after Friday night's result. A constant threat to the Brighton box, Arnautovic just didn't have the necessary luck to get the goal he deserved.
Although, he did miss a glorious chance in injury time, much to the displeasure of the West Ham fans.
At fault for the Brighton goal, the Hammers defender looked a shade of the player he was last weekend against Manchester United.
Seemingly rattled by Murray getting goalside of him to score the sole goal of the game, Masuaku never really recovered and will certainty be welcoming the international break.
Arthur Masuaku is supposed to be a Premier League defender. He’s just watched Glenn Murray waltz past him and score completely unmarked. Your first instinct as a defender is to sense the danger. Not good enough. Goal side and he clears it— Ant Weeks (@weetbix20) October 5, 2018