Following all the Hammers hullabaloo, razzmatazz and excitement of 2023, West Ham United kicked off their New Year with a disappointing, dismal, dour draw at London Stadium, where the final whistle simply could not come quickly enough.

After their exertions of the festive period that saw valiant victories over Manchester United and Arsenal, David Moyes men – missing the pace and playmaking of absent duo Mohamed Kudus and Lucas Paquetá – just could not muster any real threat in front of goal and Brighton & Hove Albion will return to the South Coast reflecting on several squandered second-half chances.

The Hammers came into their first game of 2024 having triumphed in six of their last eight Premier League matches.

Indeed, that victory over Arsenal in their final match of 2023 saw them record their fourth straight win and it had left them in sixth spot with 33 points, their best-ever tally at any halfway point of a Premier League campaign.

Following that tremendous 2-0 win at Emirates Stadium on Thursday night, Moyes made three enforced changes as Vladimír Coufal (ill), Paquetá (knee) and Africa Cup of Nations-bound Kudus made way for Ben Johnson, Pablo Fornals and Saïd Benrahma.

During a subdued opening that would set the tone for the evening, a couple of attempted Jarrod Bowen breaks came to nothing, while Edson Álvarez also saw his penalty appeals waved away, both on the pitch and in the Video Assistant Referee’s studio following his early tumble in the Seagulls area.

Brighton arrived at London Stadium having beaten Tottenham Hotspur (4-2) five days previously – only their third victory from their last 13 top-flight matches – and sitting in eighth place, three points and two rungs below the Hammers.

They made two changes as Adam Webster and Pervis Estupiñán replaced Lewis Dunk and Igor Julio, which meant there was a starting place for the timeless James Milner making his 632nd Premier League start to go into joint second place alongside Ryan Giggs in the competition’s all-time appearance charts and, like the Welsh wizard, he was also playing in a record-equalling 23rd different year.

Despite his 38th birthday being just two days away, Milner looked just as mobile as anyone else out on the Stratford turf and, indeed, only a well-timed Álvarez tackle prevented the veteran from escaping deep into Hammers territory midway through the half.

By now, only Facundo Buonanotte and Emerson had mustered weak shots, while an offside Bowen also sent a low, angled 15-yarder onto the base of Jason Steele’s right-hand post.

On 27 minutes, Bowen appeared on the right flank, once more, and this time his deep cross was met by James Ward-Prowse, whose 15-yard half-volley ricocheted off Steele’s legs for the first corner of the evening, which Konstantinos Mavropanos subsequently headed over the crossbar.

That was the closest the Hammers would come all night.

At the other end, Johnson was booked for felling Buonanotte in full flow and, when Pascal Groß deposited the consequent free-kick into the West Ham danger-zone, man-of-the-match Alphonse Areola brilliantly smothered Jack Hinshelwood’s point-blank volley to prevent Brighton from breaking the deadlock.

With the first half gradually rising from its early slumber, it was Benrahma’s turn to threaten with a slaloming run and shot that curled beyond both Steele’s left glove and left-hand post, while Areola also saved a glancing header from the onrushing Groß to keep it goalless at the break.

Just after the restart, the sliding Emerson survived a handball appeal after the roaming Hinshelwood attempted to drill in a low cross and, with the Seagulls still pressing, Danny Welbeck’s 12-yard volley was brilliantly repelled by the agile Areola.

In reply, Fornals' low 25-yarder was comfortably fielded on the hour by Steele, before João Pedro carved into the Hammers area where the perfectly-positioned Areola saved his rising shot, while Tomáš Souček also bundled wide.

Sensing his side were gaining the upper hand, Roberto De Zerbi increased the pressure with the introduction of the fresh-legged Evan Ferguson in place of Welbeck and the newly-arrived substitute wasted no time in drilling a low 18-yarder inches wide.

With lone striker Bowen realistically being the Hammers only attacking outlet, Moyes summoned Divin Mubama from the bench in place of Benrahma, while Webster and Buonanotte made way for Adam Lallana and Jakub Moder in the opposite dug-out.

Still the West Ham goal was living a charmed life as Groß nodded wide, while Moder flashed one across the face of goal before then wastefully volleying over from all of eight yards and, with the clock ticking down, Areola again came to his side’s rescue to save Lallana’s 18-yarder at the second attempt.

By now, the Hammers fans were heading for the exits, while the visiting supporters stayed rooted to their seats sensing that only one team was going to score. Thankfully for the Claret and Blue followers still inside London Stadium, the final whistle came to West Ham’s rescue, leaving both sides to settle for a point.

WEST HAM UNITED: Areola, Johnson, Emerson, Mavropanos, Ogbonna, Álvarez, Ward-Prowse, Souček, Fornals, Benrahma (Mubama 73), Bowen. Unused subs: Fabiański, Cresswell, Cornet, Ings, Coventry, Casey, Laing, Orford.

BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION: Steele, Hinshelwood, Estupiñán, Webster (Moder 74), van Hecke, Gilmour, Groß, Milner, Buonanotte (Lallana 74), Welbeck (Ferguson 67), João Pedro. Unused subs: Verbruggen, Dahoud, Baleba, Samuels, Baker-Boaitey, Kavanagh.

Booked: Johnson (31).

Referee: Sam Barrott.