West Ham shut out again but defence does enough to earn a point at Stoke
West Ham's game against Stoke was a dull, goalless draw and, in 90 minutes, could be said to have encapsulated the Hammers' season. There was some good football, some bad football and an awful lot of tedium, which aptly sums up the campaign for Slaven Bilic and his men.
Two home games now come up for the Hammers but the team will need to find more cohesion up front if they want to worry Tottenham and Liverpool. This season's two wins against Swansea may prove to have been a crucial six points in terms of avoiding relegation.
A clean sheet and vastly improved defensive performance by the back three at least gives hope that West Ham may be able to get something from those next two home games.
Entertainment was limited at the Bet365 stadium and the paucity of the Hammers' striking options was cruelly exposed against a resolute Stoke defence and the impressive Jack Butland in goal.
Manager rating out of 10:
6 -- Adrian's excellent performance at one end of the pitch, as well as Jonathan Calleri's poor display at the other, suggests Bilic has made something of a rod for his own back this season.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Adrian, 8 -- Made some superb stops in the second half and has turned back into West Ham's No: 1 in the last two games; something most fans believed he was anyway. The question now is whether he will be happy enough to stay or if falling out of favour earlier this season makes him seek a move.
DF Jose Fonte, 7 -- It's taken him a while to settle in but this was another good game from the central defender, who looks extremely comfortable alongside Winston Reid.
DF James Collins, 6 -- Gave the ball away in dangerous positions on a couple of occasions but was still part of a solid back unit.
DF Winston Reid, 8 -- An impressive game from the New Zealand International; not least when he blocked a Saido Berahino shot in the first half. Reid won everything all afternoon.
MF Arthur Masuaku, 6 -- He was having a good game until he was substituted at half-time, to the confusion of visiting fans. However, the increasingly popular Masuaku tweeted later that he had suffered a bit of a knock but was expecting to be back for the Spurs match next week.
MF Cheikhou Kouyate, 7 -- The Senegalese international provided another powerful performance in the centre of the park. West Ham's season may have been better if Kouyate played there more often.
MF Havard Nordtveit, 5 -- After impressing against Everton last time out, this was back to average for the Norwegian midfielder.
MF Edimilson Fernandes, 5 -- Playing as a wing-back, he provided little on the right side. It's not entirely clear what his best role is but Bilic needs to find it quickly.
MF Manuel Lanzini, 8 -- West Ham's creative talisman shone again. A creative and dangerous outlet, Lanzini will surely only improve with better players ahead of him.
FW Andre Ayew, 5 -- One overhead kick was superbly saved by Butland but, other than that, there's still too little end product from Ayew.
FW Jonathan Calleri, 4 -- Wasted the two chances he had and looked totally out of his depth the rest of the time. Nowhere near good enough to be a Premier League striker.
MF Robert Snodgrass, NR -- Replaced the ineffective Calleri but provided little himself.
DF Aaron Cresswell, 5 -- A substitute for Masuaku but wasn't able to impact on the game. Cresswell struggled after returning from injury earlier in the season but has little confidence now. He needs a good summer break.
MF Mark Noble, 6 -- Replaced Ayew after 68 minutes and busied himself immediately. Hardly the player expected to come on for a striker, but at least the popular captain looked to get involved.
Peter Thorne, aka Billy Blagg (@BillyBlaggEsq), is ESPN FC's West Ham blogger.