Player by Player Analysis: West Ham Utd 0-2 Leicester City

West Ham United have ended the first half of their season before the World Cup break on a truly dismal run.

Three consecutive home defeats to Crystal Palace, Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City put manager David Moyes under significant pressure to use the break to turn things around and hit the ground running when domestic football returns after Christmas.

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Saturday’s performance against Leicester was actually much improved and contained some of the elements that were sorely missed against Palace – Moyes’ team pressed with more intensity and managed to control much longer periods of the game but they failed to protect themselves against Leicester’s threat on the counter or make much of the territorial dominance they enjoyed...

Player Ratings

Łukasz Fabiański (9)

Fabiański has now saved eleven penalties in the Premier League and his saves from Youri Tielemans, Jamie Vardy and Daniel Amartey were crucial to West Ham having any hope in the match. The Pole could do nothing about Leicester's first but may feel that he could've delayed his burst forward somewhat before Harvey Barnes' clincher.

Thilo Kehrer (5)

It is far too easy to get in behind Kehrer when the German plays right-back and combining him with Craig Dawson’s lack of mobility is a disaster waiting to happen. West Ham were incredibly vulnerable to the counter as a result of this pairing and Harvey Barnes was able to exploit the gaps here with ease for much of the game.

Craig Dawson (6)

Dawson’s first half performance was disastrous. Not only did he let Patson Daka breeze past him on another of those counter-attacking surges but his following attempted tackle was a total mess and a clear penalty. Dawson looked completely uncomfortable with the defensive structure of the team in this game and struggled to exert the necessary pressure to stop counters early.

West Ham originally brought Dawson in from Watford on loan before making the deal permanent in the following summer for just £2m. The 32 year-old defender has thrived in recent seasons and epitomises what David Moyes has achieved with this West Ham squad by developing a structure and style that has allowed individuals to excel themselves. Asking those, clearly limited, players to produce something a little more ambitious leads to stumbling performances like this.

Kurt Zouma (N/A)

Withdrawn early in the match injured after a terrible opening 20.

Aaron Cresswell (8)

Aside from a couple of bad mistakes at the end of each half – one of which was a terribly misjudged pass to Declan Rice – this was another brilliant individual performance from Cresswell. The left-back was left exposed for James Maddison’s opening goal by Saïd Benrahma’s lack of recovery, this allowed Timothy Castagne to drag Cresswell narrow and created the space for Maddison, but he was excellent defensively otherwise. Once again, his progressive passing and ability to break the lines was key to much of what went well in an offensive capacity for Moyes’ team.

Tomáš Souček (6)

Though he performed well in sniffing out dangerous situations and stopping them at source his one lapse of concentration in this regard led to Leicester’s first goal where he allowed the time for Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall to find his pass to Daka after not recovering quickly enough. It was unsurprising to see him withdrawn again later in the match for the more incisive presence of Pablo Fornals.

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Declan Rice (9)

After a slow start Rice dominated the midfield and offered tonnes of progressive quality alongside his fantastic anticipation providing the interceptions to sustain pressure. 10 recoveries, four combined tackles and interceptions, five progressive passes and nine passes to the final third while maintaining 90% overall passing accuracy – this was another hugely impressive performance. England fans will be hoping he can translate this form straight across to the World Cup.

Jarrod Bowen (7)

Bowen was excellent in the press on Saturday – he continually managed block forward options or force the ball backwards – but his moments of quality in possession were limited. He should’ve connected with Paquetá’s cross to equalise in the second half and strayed offside before squaring to Souček for a disallowed goal in the first half.

Lucas Paquetá (5)

Paquetá had a terrible start to the match as he failed to contribute positively to an otherwise highly engaged press and lacked the security in possession to make much of the turnovers that his teammates managed to force. The Brazilian did improve in the second half and provided several moments of quality in attack but it’s becoming painfully clear that he does his best work when allowed to drop deeper to get on the ball – this was enabled when the structure was moved closer to a 433 in the second period.

Saïd Benrahma (7)

Benrahma was clearly the bright spark in possession in this game as he showed a constant willingness to try things and take risks with the ball. The problem, yet again, is what his positivity and confidence with the ball actually leads to. The Algerian attempted 14 dribbles on Saturday (completing 50%) but came away without a single successful pass or cross to the penalty area.

Gianluca Scamacca (4)

Scamacca started well and, at last, provided the required off-ball intensity to lead the press but, as the game went on, his sluggish movement became more obvious and his failure to impose himself physically significantly damaged both his and the team’s performance.

For such a big player, he is still far too easily beaten in physical duels and continually displays his lack of development as an aerial threat despite his height (Scamacca won just 33% of his aerial duels on Saturday). He is being used poorly by a coach that seems not to know what he has bought but is failing to raise his individual levels to perform to the level that he can in spite of these tactical failings.

Nayef Aguerd (6)

Brought on to replace the ailing Zouma in the first half, Aguerd showed how much more this team can achieve with a more progressively competent player in central defence. Although his recovery speed wasn’t fully on show, he still looks a little rusty – evidenced by a few misplaced passes under no pressure, Aguerd’s ability to pull the defence forward into a higher line and commit to pressures higher up the pitch clearly displayed the improved degree to which the team will be able to sustain possession and pressure with him in the starting lineup.

Pablo Fornals – N/A

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