David Moyes Shows Life With West Ham Gamble vs. Villa

David Moyes, West Ham. (Photo by FRANK AUGSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
David Moyes, West Ham. (Photo by FRANK AUGSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

A tough first half required change from David Moyes and his West Ham team seeing a gamble pay off with three points deposited to go fifth in the league.

David Moyes has been nothing is not consistent with his team selection and formation strategy this season. His reliance on a five-at-the-back system has settled West Ham defensively and been effective in encouraging counterattacking football to unexpected success.

With multiple wingers and central attacking midfielders in the team, questions about team and formation flexibility have been raised. Would a 4-2-3-1 system fit the players in the team better than the current 5-2-3 does?

Against Aston Villa, David Moyes proved he can change his ways and shifted away from his trusty defence-first formation to spur the Hammers’ attack forward in the second half. Replacing Arthur Masuaku with Said Benrahma was surprising, to say the least, but was proved to be the right decision just 35 seconds into the second half.

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Moyes is a noted defensive manager, prioritizing the elimination of goals against before giving much thought to instigating offence of his own. That is why this tactical move from the manager deserves more credit.

It was a gamble to be sure, but as if switching formations and playstyles at halftime wasn’t enough, Moyes did this proactively as the match was level at 1-1. Aston Villa looked the better team after the opening 15 minutes and the 30-minute period of disappointing play allowed the manager to examine his team and cut out what wasn’t working. For the first time this season, it was Masuaku at wingback who wasn’t needed.

Jack Grealish, the only player who actually attacked West Ham in this match, was stacked on Vladimir Coufal’s side for the extent of the opening half but switched to a more central and left position once Aaron Cresswell was isolated as the solo left-back. Still, he was neutralized in the second half as Ollie Watkins became the main offensive threat.

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Three points bagged and an ocean of Villa tears from their supporters and media pundits alike, despite the referee doing his best to drag them forward, is a solid return for the Hammers. Credit where it’s due, David Moyes gambled and broke his routine and positively impacted the game, resulting in a massive win.