David Moyes became only the fourth manager to record 200 Premier League wins with this resounding victory – Ferguson, Wenger and Redknapp, since you ask, and the first of that trio was here to see it – though of greater significance to both clubs might be the fact that West Ham leapfrogged Huddersfield in the table.
Town are considered to have been enjoying a good season up till now, punching above their weight since that joyful win at Crystal Palace on day one, while West Ham have been toiling grimly near the bottom.
The Irons have improved under Moyes, however, and now they have moved towards mid-table that should be more widely recognised, as should the overall contribution of Marko Arnautovic. The Austrian was close to unplayable here – at least Huddersfield found him so – his combination of strength, awareness and control proving too much for the home defenders to deal with and contributing to all four goals.
“He’s a handful when he runs at people, and maybe playing through the middle has freed him up,” Moyes said. “He’s certainly grown in confidence.”
Huddersfield have been well beaten before, though only by teams from the top half of the table. This was a game they felt they had a chance of winning, yet it went away from them in the second half in a manner that did not suggest the solidity required for a relegation scrap. Indeed, new signings Alex Pritchard and Terence Kongolo, coming on as second-half substitutes with their side three goals in arrears, must have wondered what happened to the feisty battlers described in the brochure.
Joe Lolley was hero and villain in the first half, though not in that exact order. It was his mistake that gifted West Ham an opening goal, though the midfielder could and did complain that Jonas Lossl put him under pressure with a short pass to the edge of the area. He had a point but perhaps could have reacted more decisively instead of letting first Arnautovic and then Mark Noble hustle him off the ball.
Noble was quick to notice the Huddersfield player was in trouble and on to the loose ball in a flash, breaking forward and beating Lossl with a crisp rising shot.
That left Huddersfield with work to do, and at first it appeared they might struggle to get back on terms. Tom Ince fizzed a cross over from the left that Laurent Depoitre could not quite reach, then Rajiv van La Parra hit a similar ball over Lolley’s head. The Terriers kept trying, though, and four minutes from the interval gained their reward when Lolley took a pass from Aaron Mooy to cut in from the right and give Adrián no chance with a curler from the angle of the area.
It was quite a goal, though the uplift did not extend beyond the interval. Huddersfield fell behind again before they had even touched the ball in the second half. West Ham kicked off and launched a long ball forward, Cheikhou Kouyaté gained a flick-on and Arnautovic took it away from Tommy Smith to find the net before many supporters had returned to their seats. If that was an unpromising restart worse was to follow. Arnautovic was again involved for the third goal, occupying defenders on the edge of the area before releasing a just-about-onside Manuel Lanzini with a perfectly weighted through pass.
A fourth goal arrived just four minutes later, Arnautovic this time running directly at the heart of the Huddersfield defence and almost finding a way through. He was eventually halted close to the penalty spot, but there was so little of the home defence left it was simple for Lanzini to collect the loose ball and belt it past Lossl.
Everyone has a soft spot for the Terriers, still homely enough to bring squad players on to the pitch for the half-time lottery and gently take the mickey out of their dress sense, though this was a sobering afternoon for a side without a win in their last five games.
Huddersfield were not just overtaken in the table, they were outclassed. “We were below par, too many individual mistakes,” their manager, David Wagner, said. “We’ve had these moments two or three times this season. It’s frustrating, but at least the mistakes were so obvious they should be easy to analyse and put right.”