Player by Player Analysis: West Ham Utd 1-1 Aston Villa

After West Ham’s 0-4 loss to Brighton last weekend the Hammers slipped to 19th in the away form table having picked up just six points on the road all season.

With four of the current top six still to play across their remaining home fixtures, taking all three points from Sunday’s game against Aston Villa would be vital in the Hammers’ fight to stay up. Yet, as the game progressed at a nervy and quiet London Stadium, it never really looked like David Moyes’ side had enough to break down Unai Emery’s revitalised Villans.

In fact, West Ham were limp and barely able to string together cohesive moments of quality in possession, instead relying on hopeful balls launched over the top of Villa’s defence.

A 1-1 draw with an anticlimactic, bitty, last fifteen minutes – rather a rousing kitchen-sink-throwing scrap for the points – isn’t enough in the circumstances and the never ending cycle of must-win games rolls on to the next match against Southampton.

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Player Ratings

Alphonse Areola (6)
Aside from one big save to deny Ollie Watkins a second towards the end of the first half, Areola had little to do in this match. Though it will be a significant concern that, since the Frenchman has come in as first choice goalkeeper, there have been repeating issues from corners and West Ham were perhaps fortunate to avoid conceding late in the match when Jhon Durán failed to catch hold of his shot after Ezri Konsa’s excellent, unchallenged, near-post flick-on.

Thilo Kehrer (5)
Kehrer has struggled since joining from PSG in the summer for just over £10m and Sunday proved to be no different as his 1v1 duels against Álex Moreno and Jacob Ramsey were a big challenge once again. Whilst he was undoubtedly left systemically exposed – Jarrod Bowen constantly found himself drawn narrow by the movement of Ramsey – Kehrer continually looked overwhelmed when backpedalling. There were some good aggressive pressures and turnovers in the first half and some excellent looped passes in the second period but his 1v1 ability defensively remains a huge concern.

Kurt Zouma (6)
Zouma impressed on his return to the league starting lineup for the first time since January. Back at right-centre-back in a back four at last, the Frenchman combined some excellent arced balls out to the left flank with a generally solid defensive performance. His best moment was probably a block to deny Watkins in the 35th minute but he was fortunate to get away with some flat-footed defending from the corner that led to Durán’s late chance.

Nayef Aguerd (5)
It was far too easy for Watkins to attack the space between Emerson and Aguerd for Villa’s goal and the Moroccan central defender was at fault again when Watkins surged between West Ham’s centre-backs to attack Ramsey’s smart low cross just before half-time. On both occasions, Aguerd could have done a lot more to physically impede Villa’s striker and stop him from being able to make clean contact on both crosses. Equally, the centre-back’s second half recovery was impressive and he nearly set up a goal when his diagonal pass found Bowen in behind Lucas Digne with seven minutes to go. His best moment was probably a vital defensive header to deny Watkins in the 71st minute.

Emerson Palmieri (7)
David Moyes post-match comments suggesting that this was “probably one of Emerson’s best games for us” were a fair reflection of another promising showing from the left-back on Sunday. It has taken the Italian a long time to really cement his position in the first team but he has clearly been one of the standout positives in a couple of weeks where things have largely felt pretty dreary in E20. He picked his moments to jump out of defence and press brilliantly against Villa and was defensively comfortable until a couple of shaky moments after Bertrand Traoré’s introduction.

Declan Rice (5)
Rice started the match excellently before fading into near-total obscurity throughout the rest of a first half in which he found himself overloaded in midfield once again. With Lucas Paquetá and Tomáš Souček both taking up aggressive positions ahead of him but not really actuating any pressure on the opposition ball-carrier, like Brighton, Aston Villa found it easy to progress the ball into the spaces either side of Rice with the midfielder unable to cover all of the ground on his own. He improved without impressing when partnered with Souček in a 4-2-3-1 defensive structure in the second period.

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Jarrod Bowen (6)
Whilst Bowen was West Ham’s biggest threat for much of the game with his runs in behind, the winger struggled with the narrow positioning of Ramsey and found it difficult to cover Kehrer and help out defensively. He could’ve hoped for more from his brilliant dribble and delivery for Saïd Benrahma in the 13th minute but he failed to convert some of his other moments of promise into quality chances with an 83th minute cutback arriving behind Fornals being the most frustrating example.

Tomáš Souček (5)
He may have had some useful moments defensively but Souček was a total passenger in possession for much of Sunday’s match. Surely later in the game, when he was spending most of his time loitering the final third, Moyes could have brought on any of the more offensively talented options he had on the bench.

Lucas Paquetá (6)
Paquetá did well to draw a soft penalty out of Leon Bailey after his shot was blocked on the line by Watkins in the 24th minute and his performance throughout the rest of the first half was brilliant as he drifted deep to get on the ball, picking out some fantastic passes to find Bowen, Souček and Benrahma in space. The Brazilian was less effective in the second period after the change of system and was withdrawn with 15 minutes to go after a wild challenge on John McGinn. Storming straight down the tunnel was a terrible look and it was a relief to see him trudge back out a few minutes later.

Saïd Benrahma (6)
Another mixed bag from Benrahma who took his penalty brilliantly and often looked like the one West Ham player with that moment of match-defining magic in him. There were a couple of nearly moments with the Algerian supplying a delightful cross from the right only for Zouma to head wide before the two linked up again as Benrahma took a brilliant first touch from Zouma’s arced diagonal to open up the space for a shot that forced a good, but expected, save out of Emiliano Martínez. The winger could then have played Danny Ings through from the most promising counter of the match but lost his focus and instead found Konsa with a weak and poorly judged through ball. Close but, as ever, no cigar.

Danny Ings (4)
The striker was barely involved as West Ham’s match plan quickly devolved into punting it over Villa’s defence and hoping for the best. Ings isn’t exactly blessed with blistering pace so the approach didn’t suit him at all and it was unsurprising to see Cornet brought on through the middle towards the end.

Pablo Fornals, Maxwel Cornet (N/A)

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