Player by Player Analysis: Newcastle Utd 1-1 West Ham Utd

After losing five consecutive matches either side of the World Cup, West Ham picked up another point at Newcastle on Saturday to continue to build on the improved form seen so far in 2023.

Having started the match in calamitous fashion, conceding two goals in the opening three minutes (thankfully only one stood after Joe Willock’s goal inside forty seconds was ruled out because the ball went out of play), West Ham slowly improved before taking control of much of the first half and earning a deserved equaliser through Lucas Paquetá.

The Brazilian has come on leaps and bounds since moving back into a number eight position alongside Declan Rice and the supporting switch to a 3-4-3, or 5-4-1, has led to improved form from others too. It will be fascinating to see whether David Moyes’ side will be able to come through the next two matches, against Chelsea and Spurs, with their burgeoning confidence intact.

Embed from Getty Images

Player Ratings

Łukasz Fabiański (5)
Fabiański’s one big save came from a Callum Wilson header that was straight at him but the Pole struggled to stay calm when faced with Newcastle’s intense press (regularly panicking on the ball and giving up possession with aimless balls forward.

Thilo Kehrer (5)
Although the German improved before being withdrawn at half-time having felt his hamstring, Kehrer was at fault once again for an opposition goal when Wilson strode between him and Ogbonna to latch onto Sean Longstaff’s pass. It was a small error, Kehrer was caught a yard-and-a-half behind the defensive line at the time of the pass, playing Wilson onside and making the goal possible, but these little mistakes are punished at this level and West Ham cannot afford to keep conceding soft goals.

Angelo Ogbonna (7)
With every passing week Ogbonna looks more dominant at the heart of the West Ham defence. The Italian was brilliant again from crosses on Saturday, making one crucial headed clearance in the eleventh minute to deny Wilson a tap-in from a delightful Willock cross, and balanced his sweeping up behind the defence with his proactive pressures to deny Wilson the space to drop and turn. A great performance.

Nayef Aguerd (7)
Impossible to beat in 1v1s. Although Aguerd made a couple of positioning errors in the match, and should definitely have profited more from a couple of promising openings in the final third (the Moroccan should be as much of a threat and as regular a scorer as Craig Dawson was (his recovery tackle on Wilson in the second half summed up the abundant quality he possesses defensively. His brilliance has enabled so many of the other positives (the form of our wing-backs immediately comes to mind (and this was another top performance from the defender.

Vladimír Coufal (6)
Coufal struggled a little in the first half with the intensity of Newcastle’s press and ended up hoofing the ball forward to avoid losing it deeper on numerous occasions but, as West Ham dropped to defend the draw in the second period, his defensive qualities shone. He did an excellent job on Allan Saint-Maximin throughout the match and he underlined that with his block on the line to deny the Frenchman after a crucial challenge at the back stick in the 54th minute. He could’ve come away with an assist too had Aguerd converted a great delivery in first half stoppage time.

Lucas Paquetá (8)
He may have made a ridiculous mistake in softly giving up possession to Joelinton for Newcastle’s first goal but this was a performance full of promise from Paquetá. His pressing can sometimes be a little over-eager for a midfield two, and the speed at which he arrives to tackles can make him easy to dart past if he times it wrong, but it’s his press-resistance and enormous quality in possession that really makes the difference in West Ham’s midfield. In seasons gone by, with Tomáš Souček, Coufal, and Dawson all regular starters, Moyes’ side would’ve had no hope under Newcastle’s relentless pressure… But with Paquetá and Aguerd in the side on Saturday, alongside Declan Rice, Emerson, Saïd Benrahma and Ogbonna, the Hammers were regularly able to play quick short passes to navigate their way through the press and unlock the space left behind. This is a huge step in the right direction for the team and Paquetá’s inclusion in a deeper position is crucial to this development. He took his goal well too, killing the ball brilliantly with his first touch before keeping his shot low enough to ensure Nick Pope had no chance of saving it. Promising!

Embed from Getty Images

Declan Rice (8)
After a slow first five minutes with the rest of the team, Rice burst into life and put in an exceptional first half display. His ability to bait the passes he wants before racing across to intercept is well above the level exhibited by most defensive midfielders in the world and his talent for winning turnovers and launching counters was on full show in the first 45 minutes on Saturday. He even set-up Benrahma for a great chance on the left flank and took the corner that provided the equaliser. We saw slightly less of him in the second period as the team dropped off to protect the point but had he managed to flick the ball on to Jarrod Bowen in the dying seconds for a dramatic late winner, it would have been the perfect reward for an incredible individual performance.

Emerson (7)
Only Rice (28) outflanked Emerson (25) for carries on Saturday and whilst his defensive work may still be leaving a few question marks (his desire to recover when the ball goes beyond him is sometimes worse than questionable (his ability to drive forward in possession, on the inside and the outside, before combining well with attackers is proving to be a vital part of the effectiveness of the attack in settled possession.

Jarrod Bowen (6)
Not with the pace of the game at all in the opening period, Bowen failed to surge into dangerous positions on several occasions and killed what would otherwise have been promising attacks. But as the game went on, he improved, and the winger deserves real credit for his off-ball work where he timed his out-to-in pressures well to stop the supply to Saint-Maximin. Though his off-ball continues to impress, he needs to add quality in the final third to allow the team to fully realise the promise of these performances.

Michail Antonio (4)
Much like Bowen (and, as you’ll find out in a second, Benrahma too (Antonio was excellent off the ball in an unfamiliar man-marking job against Newcastle. Rather than pressing the centre-backs as normal, Antonio was asked to sit behind Newcastle’s number six, either Longstaff or Joelinton, and deny that player the space to receive or turn and, largely, he did that job well. He had such a strong period in this role in the second half that Eddie Howe felt the need to swap those two midfielders over for the third time in the match, this time to get Joelinton away from the relentless attentions of Antonio. So why the four? Whilst Antonio did a good job out of possession, it was his performance in the physical duels with Newcastle’s defenders that really underwhelmed on Saturday. Just one aerial success from eight duels (12.5%) is nowhere near good enough, and the Jamaican just couldn’t make it stick against two defenders in outstanding form.

Saïd Benrahma (5)
Another of the slower starters in West Ham’s slow start all-round, Benrahma struggled to begin with before stepping up a level and getting into the rhythm of a totally different pressing approach. The Algerian did well off the ball but, again, it was his work post-turnover that catastrophically undermined promising counter after promising counter against Eddie Howe’s team. On far too many occasions, West Ham would bait the pass they wanted, win the ball back, play two direct passes and find Benrahma with space to pick out teammates or take on a 1v1 to finish the move, only for Benrahma to mess up every single one of these moments. We have to see a more reliable player in these situations because the rest of his positive work should really be leading to exploding goal contributions.

Ben Johnson (6)
Subbed on at half-time to replace Kehrer, Johnson looked comfortable at right-centre-back until he came steaming out of the defensive line to press Anthony Gordon and opened a gap for Wilson to run through on goal. He was lucky to be bailed out by Aguerd. Fine otherwise.

Tomáš Soucek, Pablo Fornals, Danny Ings, Flynn Downes N/A

Newcastle Utd: Pope (6); Trippier (8), Schär (8), Botman (7), Burn (8); Willock (5), Longstaff (7), Joelinton (7); Almirón (8), Wilson (5), Saint-Maximin (5); Gordon (7).

* Like to share your thoughts on this article? Please visit the KUMB Forum to leave a comment.

* Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the highlighted author/s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official policy or position of

More Opinion