West Ham United‘s loss at home to Stoke City was crucially due to an error which was hugely costly.
As Jermain Pennant found the back of the net for the visitors (his first goal in the Premier League since 2011), it was obvious that it was a very well struck set piece. However, one thing that has gone unnoticed by pundits and the media during the immediate aftermath was the fact that not one of the West Ham players in the wall decided to jump.
Their attempts to block the ball was seriously woeful. If any of them did leave the ground then it was considerably insignificant as the ball was given little obstacle whilst on course to goal.
Take no credit away from Pennant’s free kick but it is these careless errors that cost so many points over the course of the season, and for West Ham it was all three on Saturday.
It baffles me that not one of those Hammers players in the wall made a real attempt to put their upper part of their body in the way. It may hurt but take a blow to the face and get the points for your team. That’s what your paid for. But the fact none of them jumped is even more bizarre, it seems like a lack of discipline or laziness and the game edged towards the latter stages.
It’s not the first time in the past year we’ve seen a crucial goal come with the help of poor defending in the wall, as Samir Nasri showed last season vs Manchester United. But if not one of your team decide to commit themselves whilst in wall, what can you really expect the end result of the free kick to be?