Player by Player Analysis: Man Utd 1-0 West Ham Utd

West Ham fell to their seventh defeat of the season in familiar fashion away at Old Trafford on Sunday night. The Hammers created a handful of excellent opportunities only to find Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea in outstanding form to protect his side’s one goal lead.

It’s the fifth time this season that David Moyes’ team have been defeated by a single goal margin and the Scot will be wondering what more his team have to do to translate performances into points.

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Player Ratings

Łukasz Fabiański (7)
Fabiański made a few relatively simple saves in the first half before being withdrawn at half-time after jarring his knee while racing to make a clearance from a Lisandro Martínez long ball.

Thilo Kehrer (7)
Perhaps the most difficult player to assess in the side, Kehrer’s all-round contribution in possession was excellent on Sunday night as he marauded down the right side to great effect and played a number of incisive balls through the midfield from defensive areas. But once again, it was his defensive concentration and awareness that deserted him at times and left his teammates vulnerable. He should have leapt earlier to impede Marcus Rashford’s progress for the winning goal and this was just one of a series of errors in which he allowed the English winger to get the better of him. Although there is real promise in Kehrer’s performances, he will need to cut the mistakes out if he wants to secure a first-team spot in the long term.

Craig Dawson (6)
A solid return to the team post-injury for Dawson who, bar one terribly misjudged pass in the first half, was generally comfortable on the right side of a central defensive partnership with Kurt Zouma. Some of his line-breaking play in possession impressed in this match and if he is able to find the kind of quality he managed in the second half on a consistent basis, it will help the team through the remaining games before the World Cup, after which Nayef Aguerd is expected to return.

Kurt Zouma (7)
A monstrous second half performance from Zouma that deserved to be capped with a goal, and would have been if not for a truly outstanding save from De Gea. The Frenchman was near-perfect in defending the box from crosses and made a vital sliding tackle to stop Rashford from steaming through on goal late in the match.

Aaron Cresswell (5)
After an exceptional individual run of form, this was a weaker performance from Cresswell who struggled to threaten from the left despite the amount of times he found himself in excellent crossing positions. His defensive work was generally good but he probably should’ve offered more in the final third (though it was his cross that led to Zouma’s headed chance late on).

Tomáš Souček (6)
After a poor first half display, Souček grew into the match and finished strongly. The Czech struggled to add much value in possession in the first half while the team failed to capitalise on opportunities generated via turnovers but his work in recovering possession in the second 45 was vital to the sustaining of pressure that should ultimately have led to an equalising goal.

Declan Rice (8)
Rice has hit the kind of level where, once again, even when he doesn’t play that well by his own standards he’s still one of the best players on the pitch. Although the West Ham captain lacked the usual accuracy and exemplary decision-making we’re used to seeing, he offered a huge amount to the game and could quite easily have scored with an arcing long range effort in the final seconds. He probably could’ve been a little quicker to close down Christian Eriksen before the Dane whipped in his perfect cross for Rashford in the first half but his drive and intensity after half-time generated the platform by which Moyes’ team were able to exert near-total control over periods of the match.

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Jarrod Bowen (7)
Somehow not on the scoresheet thanks to Harry Maguire’s calf, Bowen was brilliant in the second half as he picked up spaces between the lines to receive the ball and drive at the Manchester United defence. There are questions to answer over his first half intensity and defensive positioning but the winger should’ve made good on those faults with a deserved late goal.

Flynn Downes (4)
It’s hard to see what Downes is meant to do from such an advanced position in possession and the young midfielder really struggled to add offensive value in this match. His uninspiring work on the ball stifled attacks and the only real surprise was that he was allowed to stay on the pitch in this role for quite so long. Soccerment data reinforces this with Downes recording -0.06 xT (Expected Threat) and zero xOVA (Offensive Value Added) for the match.

Saïd Benrahma (7)
Yet another Benrahma performance which hinted at everything you’d want but failed to deliver the ultimate moment in the final third that would yield a goal. There was a wonderful spin to round Casemiro that led to a tame 0.03 xG effort from well outside the box, a fantastic drive to get onto Gianluca Scamacca’s through ball that led to another tame long ranger that bounced off Martínez, and a series of jinks and turns that preceded Rice’s rasping effort in the final moments… His best moment was actually a simple drive down the left before a cutback for Scamacca that the Italian could maybe have done a little better with.

Gianluca Scamacca (5)
Scamacca started the game really well and repeatedly dropped away from the Manchester United defence to receive the ball in deeper areas which allowed Bowen and Benrahma to get away down the flanks. But as the game progressed, his slow off-ball movement hindered chance creation and did nothing to open spaces for others. Too often, the Italian finds himself patrolling the edge of the penalty area or dropping behind attacks to hit the ball from distance; this makes it far too easy for defenders to squeeze up and limit more threatening options.

Alphonse Areola (7)
A generally quiet second half showing with a couple of claims and punches from crosses.

Michail Antonio (8)
Antonio’s introduction completely changed the game as the Jamaican presented a much more direct threat for the Manchester United defence to deal with. He held the ball up excellently and spun forwards in good areas a number of times to create opportunities for himself, Dawson and Benrahma. There is a strengthening argument to suggest that Antonio may be better suited to starting away fixtures where the team is more likely to be forced to operate as a counter-attacking unit.

Pablo Fornals – N/A

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