Stoke 0-3 West Ham: Marko Arnautovic on target to compound former side's woes
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 16/12/17 6:51pm
Marko Arnautovic was on target against his former club as West Ham moved out of the bottom three with a 3-0 win at Stoke.
The match was delayed by an hour due to a power outage, but when we did finally get up and running under the lights, Mark Noble - on his 300th Premier League appearance - stroked West Ham into a 19th-minute lead from the spot after referee Graham Scott adjudged Erik Pieters to have felled Manuel Lanzini in the box. Stoke were incredulous, believing Lanzini to have gone down too easily.
The returning Arnautovic, who was a real threat all afternoon, having mustered six shots at goal in the match, finally made one of his chances count in the 75th minute, after combining superbly with Lanzini, before substitute Diafra Sakho slid in a late third to make sure of the three points.
Stoke's worst start to a Premier League season continues after a fifth defeat in their last six league games leaves them looking over their shoulder in 17th, while West Ham capped a fine week by climbing to 15th.
Stoke: Butland (6), Pieters (5), Wimmer (4), Cameron (5), Shawcross (4), Allen (5), Diouf (3), Sobhi (4), Fletcher (5), Crouch (5), Shaqiri (6).
Subs: Berahino (4), Tymon (6), Adam (6).
West Ham: Adrian (6), Cresswell (8), Zabaleta (6), Collins (7), Masuaku (8), Ogbonna (7), Obiang (6), Noble (7), Lanzini (9), Antonio (7), Arnautovic (9).
Subs: Sakho (7), Chicharito (6), Rice (7).
Man of the match: Marko Arnautovic
The game burst to life in the 18th minute, as Ryan Shawcross got up highest to meet a free-kick, but his header came out off the post and West Ham countered immediately.
Lanzini carried the ball into the box, dragged it away from the outstretched leg of Pieters, went down, and the referee pointed to the spot before Noble stepped up to take the penalty. Replays show Lanzini may have been going down before contact was made.
Arnautovic, who was treated to a hostile reception on his first return to the bet365 Stadium, then almost made it two after capitalising on a missed header from Pieters, but Jack Butland spread himself well to make the block, before the Austria international then fired over as the half-time whistle approached.
For the fourth game running, Joe Hart had to make do with a place on the bench, with Adrian continuing in goal. Just one enforced change for West Ham from the draw with Arsenal, with James Collins coming in for the suspended Winston Reid.As expected Kurt Zouma missed out for Stoke, with Kevin Wimmer replacing him in the starting XI.
After the break, Arnautovic again remained the danger, as he again went close. The excellent Arthur Masuaku fed him down the left flank, Arnautovic cut inside, fired for goal, but Kevin Wimmer made the block, with the ball skewing into the side-netting.
Another effort at goal and another Arnautovic chance was next up, but this time the former Stoke forward was denied by the crossbar after brilliantly controlling and shooting for goal from the edge of the box.
It seemed like it would only be a matter of time before the returning villain made his mark, and sure enough, 15 minutes from time, he found the net. The pass into Lanzini was perfect, but the flicked return from Lanzini exquisite, as he chipped the ball into the path of Arnautovic, who smashed the ball under Butland to make it two. A lively celebration, in front of the Stoke fans, ensued.
Eleven minutes later, it was three. Lanzini was at the heart of it again, as he fed Sakho, who passed the ball into the net to put the seal on another fine West Ham performance, intensifying the pressure on Mark Hughes' shoulders in the process.
This is the first time since March 2014 (at Manchester United) that a side managed by David Moyes has kept three consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League.
Manuel Lanzini provided two assists and won the penalty in this match - it's only the second time that Lanzini has assisted two goals in a single PL game (also vs Middlesbrough in January 2017).
Marko Arnautovic is the third player to score against Stoke in the Premier League having previously played for them in the competition (also Wilfried Bony and Seyi Olofinjana).
Stoke have kept just one clean sheet in their last 16 Premier League games.
Man of the match - Marko Arnautovic
His first touch was greeted by a cacophony on boos at the bet365 Stadium, but a superb performance certainly silenced those angry Stoke fans on Saturday afternoon. It did appear that the Austria international would endure a frustrating afternoon in front of goal having missed several chances, but finally got his goal late in the day to seal victory for the Hammers.
A look at the average position shows Arnautovic playing much higher than any of his team-mates - he was a menace on his return to the Potters.
West Ham host Arsenal in the Carabao Cup quarter-final on Tuesday, before a home clash with Newcastle next weekend. West Brom are Stoke's next opponent on Saturday.