Player by Player Analysis: West Ham Utd v Newcastle Utd

After West Ham’s 1-0 win over Southampton, picking up points in the following two fixtures would be vital for David Moyes’ side.

West Ham have struggled to put a run together all season and building on the confidence gained from the result secured at the weekend against The Saints would be vital for an extremely difficult run-in. Unfortunately, the Hammers stuck to the theme of the season so far and lurched back to the ridiculous with a shambolic 1-5 defeat to Eddie Howe’s Newcastle.

Though there were positives to be taken from the individual intensity and fight shown from the players throughout this match, the calamity of the wider out-of-possession structure overrides all positives. West Ham’s defensive shape and press was nothing short of catastrophic last night. Continuously exposing players to disastrous situations creates the circumstances for individual errors. Structurally exposed players make mistakes.

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Player Ratings

Łukasz Fabiański (3)
Fabiański was culpable for three of Newcaslte’s goals as the Polish goalkeeper was rounded far too easily by Joelinton for the second, responsible for a foolish pass to Nayef Aguerd that led to the third, and the architect of the fourth with some truly woeful sweeping that allowed Alexander Isak to clip the ball into an empty net. Still, he made a brilliant save to deny Jacob Murphy, raced out and made a key intervention to stop Callum Wilson from scoring what would have been his second at the time, and made a truly outstanding save to stop a second half Allan Saint-Maximin shot. The fact that he made those three stops and still conceded five sums up just how bad this team performance was.

Thilo Kehrer (4)
Any decision-making process that leads you to pick Kehrer at right-back for a 1v1 battle against Saint-Maximin in a high press is a bad process. It surprised no one that this was an obvious mismatch from the first minute and Newcastle got lots of joy switching the play to their French winger running at speed against Kehrer. Given the circumstances he found himself in, this wasn’t a totally horrific performance but it had some awful lows with an absurd header to concede the corner that gifted Newcastle their first and a complete lack of communication or tracking on Joelinton’s run for the second.

Kurt Zouma (4)
He may have scored West Ham’s only goal but this was a terrible defensive display from Zouma. He never got to grips with Wilson’s movement dropping off the frontline and had some proper clangers as he raced out to try and press the striker. This in combination with some terribly misjudged aerials where the ball sailed right over him, his woeful marking that allowed Wilson a free header for the first, and his terribly weak defending that allowed Joelinton to add the fifth made this a pretty horrendous performance.

Nayef Aguerd (4)
If you took out some neat line-breaking passes, Aguerd’s rating for this game would be through the floor. His miscontrol for the killer third goal speaks for itself but he was nearly responsible for another goal when his sliding intervention only played Wilson clean through in the 31st minute. We had hoped that Aguerd would be the player to transform our season when returning from injury – his performances for Morocco at the World Cup only solidified this feeling – but the defender is yet to really convince with some of his actual defensive work. He has clearly shown that he has a lot to offer on the ball and when recovering to deal with counters but there have been too many mistakes in his West Ham career so far.

Emerson Palmieri (4)
Emerson completely lost himself positionally for Joelinton’s first as he sat several yards behind the defensive line and he was just as responsible as Aguerd on the aforementioned Wilson chance as the Italian drifted too far wide and encouraged the most dangerous pass into the channel. He played a role for the first too as Kieran Trippier found Murphy in acres of space before Kehrer even headed the ball out for the corner. The yellow card he received was incredibly harsh but he very nearly got himself sent off in the second half with a couple of foolishly late tackles.

Tomáš Souček – 3)
Copy and paste everything I said after the Southampton game. The Czech midfielder put in a performance that was almost a carbon copy of that disastrous display as he was moved from his usual deeper position into the most advanced midfield slot in the 4-2-3-1 where he failed to ever really get close to Bruno Guimarães. The only positive difference here would be that he started well with a couple of great interceptions that launched promising counters in the first few minutes.

Declan Rice (7)
It was a bit like watching one man go to war with Newcastle in the first half as Rice put in a virtuosic individual performance. There were wonderful covering tackles and awesome surges upfield in a display that reminded us all of the player we got used to over the two seasons prior to this one. Even so, the captain couldn’t escape the nightmarish defensive structure that left the whole team positionally lost for most of the match. He was caught passive when rotating responsibility for Guimarães with Paquetá and Fabian Schär was left to play a pass straight through to Joelinton for the second. He then let Sean Longstaff drift off him a few minutes later and the frustration showed as he yelped after recovering to block the cutback. The positives faded in the second half as he struggled to lift himself back to the absurd, supreme, standard required to drag the team through the match.

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Lucas Paquetá (3)
He might have finished the game strongly, offered some of the more positive moments with the ball, and gone close with a free-kick but for most of the first 65 minutes of the game Lucas Paquetá was atrocious out of possession. He struggled with his initial brief of a man-marking job on his mate Guimarães and wasn’t given long in this role before being swapped with Souček. It was in this deeper role where Paquetá was having to cover huge spaces as the forwards pressed alone that the Brazilian totally lost himself. He may have won a high number of duels but, with a 53% success rate, some of the lost duels that went with the poorly judged and often late pressures were woeful. Tactically exposed or not, some of his static moments and slow recoveries were shocking. The first goal might have contained bigger mistakes from Emerson, Zouma, and Kehrer but what is Paquetá doing?

Jarrod Bowen (6)
West Ham’s most threatening player by a mile, Bowen impressed in his individual battle with Dan Burn. It was pleasing to see the winger have so much success on the outside as he took the ball to the byline to find crosses and cutbacks. His direct running nearly led to a goal in the first minute and he produced a similar moment in the second half as he drove round on Burn’s outside before standing up a nice cross that Souček failed to attack (again). His corner gave Moyes’ side their only goal but Bowen’s defensive positioning was just as confused as others’. The winger seemed to be tasked with performing the same out-to-in pressures he’d provided in the first fixture but had none of the structural support he had then. It left him running around at high speed with little effect while Kehrer was abandoned defensively.

Michail Antonio (5)
Antonio consistently struggled to make the ball stick and was totally absent for Newcastle’s second – where he surely should have applied some kind of pressure on Schär – but he was still a much more sensible option than Ings in the context of this match. Replacing him made the team worse. His most notable moment of quality came late in the first half when his brilliant dribble past Longstaff and perfect cutback nearly led to a goal for Bowen. Thankfully, it was rewarded moments later when the following corner was headed in by Zouma. Antonio deserves a mention here for his work on keepers from corners – it’s been an important part of the success we’ve had from these situations.

Saïd Benrahma (2)
So, so weak. Benrahma’s awful attempt to close Saint-Maximin that preceded the first goal set the tone for the rest of the match. The Algerian was embarrassing in his physical duels where he was continually shoved out of the way with ease, dribbled past, or – well, I would say out-jumped but half the time he didn’t even bother attempting to make a challenge. A terrible performance.

Vladimír Coufal (7)
Played half an hour and made it uncomfortably obvious that he should have started the game.

Flynn Downes (4)
Just as positionally lost as the man he replaced.

Maxwel Cornet (6)
Nearly created a goal minutes after coming on when he beat Schär on the outside before whipping a delightful cross in for an unfortunately passive Bowen – do you detect a theme?

Danny Ings (4)
Danny Ings as a lone striker on the counter contesting long balls against Sven Botman – what’s the point?

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