The Hammers welcomed back former boss Sam Allardyce – now in charge at Sunderland – and his return added spice to what was a highly-anticipated encounter.
The hosts weren’t exactly playing their best, yet they took a first-half lead against the Black Cats through Michail Antonio as the tricky winger weaved in to the box before firing low after 30 minutes.
The visitors pushed for an equaliser, but they found no way through as Slaven Bilic’s men defended stoutly throughout with midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate a standout performer in that aspect.
|Tackles||Interceptions||Duels Won||Ball Recoveries||Touches||Accurate Passes||Mins Played|
As shown by the table provided by Opta, Kouyate was heavily involved over the course of the 90 minutes.
The Senegal international posted four tackles, four interceptions, eight ball recoveries and ten defensive duel winners as he was involved in a number of midfield battles against a physical Sunderland side.
On the ball, he was reliable, taking 69 touches and making 35 accurate passes.
Antonio will no doubt earn the plaudits for his first-half winner, yet it was West Ham’s defensive shape which was impressed most as the hosts had to endure strong pressure from the visitors.
The win takes the East London side momentarily up to fifth in the Premier League table, ahead of Manchester United who entertain Arsenal at Old Trafford on Sunday.