Player by Player Analysis: West Ham Utd 0-2 Brentford

It's now five consecutive league defeats for David Moyes' West Ham after a disappointing 0-2 loss at home to Brentford on Friday.

One of the most dispiriting displays in recent memory, the Hammers dominated possession and territory but failed to show any invention in the final third to break down the Bees’ disciplined low block. As if to emphasise the degree to which Moyes’ side have lost their way, it was two soft goals from throw-ins that decided the game. Anything less than a win on Wednesday against Leeds and time might just be up.

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Łukasz Fabiański (4)

Fabiański did make one brilliant save in this game, repelling Saman Ghoddos’ effort in the 71st minute after Ivan Toney’s free-kick cannoned back out off the wall, but the Pole may feel he could’ve done better with Christian Nørgaard’s snapshot that led to the opening goal. Though he had very little time to adjust, with the shot coming from such close range, his failure to parry the ball away from danger allowed Toney to poke home on the rebound. There was one hilarious moment in this match when Fabiański got so frazzled under pressure from the crowd to release the ball more quickly that he rolled the ball to Craig Dawson under great pressure inside the box. He hasn’t been the calming presence he once was in recent weeks and it’s looking increasingly likely that Alphonse Areola may replace him in the first team.

Craig Dawson (6)

Though none of the back three were impressive in this game, Dawson was the best of a bad bunch. His assertiveness in the duels across the first 45 minutes generated the platform by which West Ham sustained their longest and best periods of pressure in the match. And there was a small victory in Bryan Mbeumo’s 59th minute withdrawal – the Cameroonian forward had struggled to get the better of Dawson for long stretches with the centre-back happy to lean on his physicality to nudge Mbeumo off the ball on several occasions. Still, there were a couple of ridiculous mistakes in the second half that would’ve led to Brentford goals had the Bees been more clinical.

Angelo Ogbonna (5)

Caught flat-footed for the second goal, Ogbonna struggled to stick with Toney all night. The Italian centre-back was reintroduced to the starting lineup to maintain pressure on the Brentford striker and make sure he wasn’t able to easily win duels and find his partner in dangerous positions. And although there were periods in the game where Ogbonna did manage to get control, Toney was able to drop deeper to elongate those gaps and use his greater athleticism to win the battle.

Aaron Cresswell (5)

Not for the first time in recent seasons, Cresswell found himself at the centre of a disastrous moment after being caught out by a ball over the top while playing as a left-sided centre-back. This was probably the worst of the lot as Josh Dasilva outpaced and outmuscled him before slotting past Fabiański to put Brentford two up. Aside from this moment, there was little else of promise from Cresswell. Usually, the additional crossing space generated by his positioning in this system leads to some excellent deliveries but not in this match – not one of his five cross attempts really threatened.

Vladimír Coufal (6)

Although there were some positive moments between the boxes from Coufal, he struggled to reliably provide quality in the final third and was far too passive in his duel with Ethan Pinnock from the initial long-throw that led to Brentford’s opening goal.

Lucas Paquetá (6)

Paquetá showed that he is more than comfortable playing alongside Declan Rice in a deeper role in midfield as the Brazilian combined ten progressive passes with three combined tackles and interceptions. He will take risks with the ball but he must take more care with some of his simpler passes. There were too many occasions in this game, mainly after the 40th minute, where Paquetá grew careless in possession. Had he not miscued a simple sideways pass just before half-time, we would’ve been looking at a completely different game with just a single goal in it. Though this was undoubtedly an imperfect performance, there was enough to suggest that he could make the number eight role in the team his own going forward.

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Declan Rice (7)

Rice started Friday’s match brilliantly and, had his fifth minute shot curved inside the post rather than hitting it, it would have been just reward for the energy and quality he showed in the opening half an hour. Still, with the back three and Brentford’s retreating defence allowing him to regularly advance to the edge of the box, Rice should have taken far more responsibility to create and penetrate in the final third. Too often, West Ham’s midfield was comfortable playing the simple pass out wide where driving into central areas, forcing commitments, and combining with teammates seemed like the only route to break down Brentford’s stubborn defence. If Rice is to continue to play in this sort of role, rather than dropping into more of a holding position, we urgently need to see a more creative threat around the opposition box.

Emerson (5)

Crowding the left side of the pitch with Cresswell and Benrahma while failing to provide much at all in the final third, Emerson is really struggling to make use of his minutes at wing-back. He did have two positive moments in the game: One where he picked the ball up in the box and forced a good save out of David Raya and one where he combined with Paquetá on the edge of the box to set up a shot. Still, he just isn't giving enough to compensate for the withdrawal of an attacker and it was unsurprising to see him withdrawn in the 64th minute.

Jarrod Bowen (7)

Bowen pressed relentlessly to force long-balls and consolidate periods of dominance in the game. It was his direct dribbling that drew a penalty early in the second half, only for the decision to be adjusted to a free-kick on review by VAR, and it was his delivery from corners that provided a couple of good headed opportunities for Dawson. Though he isn’t at his best at the moment, he snatched at a couple of shooting opportunities here, the last couple of performances have contained plenty of positives to build on.

Gianluca Scamacca (6)

Scamacca also pressed with much improved energy in this game and, whilst this was good to see, it still feels as though his lack of awareness and off-ball movement are real problems for the team at times. There were a couple of occasions where he could’ve found himself through on goal had he anticipated the opportunity arising in any way but, equally, there were moments where he did make intelligent runs but teammates failed to pick him out. The Italian also showcased his close combinative ability in deeper areas in the first fifteen minutes of the match on Friday, which only makes it all the more frustrating that he seems to continuously be forced to sit in the box and have the ball lumped at him for long stretches. He’s not a huge aerial threat!

Saïd Benrahma (7)

Benrahma started the game excellently, finding space to receive before driving at Mathias Jørgensen to create opportunities in the final third. His run down the left, exchange with Rice, and cutback for Bowen was superb and the fact that the resultant shot bounced out off Ben Mee’s arm (behind the defender and supporting his body weight as he attempted to block the shot) a microcosm of the season so far. The Algerian drifted as the game went on and wasn’t helped at all by the change to a 4-4-2 in the second half when Michail Antonio came on.

Michail Antonio (3)

The turn, the dribble, and the air shot: This was a change that did not work… At all.

Tomáš Souček N/A

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