Jarrod Bowen began this game as if on a mission and finished it with his claim to wider recognition looking more convincing than ever. Norwich could not get near him here: his movement was simply out of their league all night and that is to say nothing of his finishing, which came good twice to ensure the visitors’ hapless campaign plumbed another depth. He could have had several more and it was not hard to see why David Moyes fancies him for an England call-up, because there are few wide forwards in the country operating with such intelligence and consistent menace.
A goal towards the end of each half ensured West Ham won by a margin that, while comfortable enough, still flattered Norwich. They return to fourth place for now, having won three in a row, and Moyes would certainly have taken this after a December slump that saw them threaten to slip out of Champions League contention. He had not been happy with the scheduling of this fixture, postponed from 18 December, and might have cursed it further when Tomas Soucek was ruled out with Covid-19. Ultimately, though, he may appreciate the boost to their momentum.
“A really professional performance,” Moyes said. “We had opportunities to make it a bit easier but we deserved our victory, it was the right result in the end.”
It was rarely in doubt once Bowen met Vladimir Coufal’s precise cross three minutes before the interval, glancing across Tim Krul and making West Ham’s increasingly concerted pressure tell.
Bowen had seen a goal disallowed shortly beforehand, his cross going straight in while an offside Nikola Vlasic strayed across the keeper’s line of vision, but he had been relentless since the opening exchanges and it seemed inevitable he would eventually strike gold.
It came as a surprise afterwards that Moyes did not think much of Bowen’s first-half performance. He could have done better with a second-minute opening, shooting at Krul after smart play by Manuel Lanzini, but caused frequent havoc with his darts in from the right. Bowen has not always finished consistently but reliably shows up to seek weaknesses: Norwich have plenty of those and, to the less educated eye, he exposed them keenly throughout.
“When you look at the competition for England it’s a decision for Gareth Southgate,” said Moyes, who had first addressed Bowen’s international prospects after he scored against Leeds on Sunday. “But he’s getting closer to people saying: ‘We should have a look at him and see what he can do’. I don’t think he’ll be too far away, but the biggest thing is to keep playing well for West Ham.”
He did that to his manager’s liking after the interval, clipping the bar and striking the base of a post in a frantic sequence either side of the hour. When he finally doubled his tally, flicking in Arthur Masuaku’s low cross to complete a move he had begun by sweetly laying off Lukasz Fabianski’s long pass, it took a VAR review to avoid another offside call. Once he was given licence to celebrate, the stats flashed up: his involvement in 16 goals in all competitions this season, scoring eight and assisting as many, outdoes any English player at a Premier League club.
On this evidence no Norwich players will fit that description after May although, as Dean Smith pointed out, they somehow remain three points from safety despite six straight defeats without scoring. Fabianski tipped Adam Idah’s fine effort on to a post as they sought an equaliser but they should have lost by more, Michail Antonio missing twice.
“We got beaten by a top-six team with better quality,” Smith admitted. West Ham are looking confident of their station once again.