First Five Thoughts: West Ham Win Ugly Against Leeds

Aaron Cresswell, West Ham. (Photo by IAN WALTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Aaron Cresswell, West Ham. (Photo by IAN WALTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

West Ham continued their push for the top four and beat Leeds United 2-0, but it was far from the prettiest win. The “ugly win” caused some complicated feelings. While the result matters the most, the performance left something to be desired and West Ham will need to improve against the tougher sides. My first five thoughts from the match:

Craig Dawson Was Easily Man of the Match

Craig Dawson, West Ham.
Craig Dawson, West Ham. (Photo by Ian Walton – Pool/Getty Images) /

I don’t think anyone can argue with this. Dawson was massive throughout the match. He scored West Ham’s second goal in the first half, another goal off of a corner, his third of the Premier League season.

Dawson was also a bright spot in the second half. He seemed to be everywhere on the pitch as Leeds tossed the kitchen sink at West Ham. One of the biggest plays Dawson made was clearing a would-be Patrick Bamford goal off the line late in the second half as Leeds were gaining confidence.

Dawson has been absolutely massive ever since Moyes gave him the starting job. He has formed a steady partnership with Angelo Ogbonna and has proven to be the rock of the defense since Ogbonna has been out with injury.

He continues to dominate for West Ham and should be given a new deal at the end of the season.

Leeds controlled the first ten minutes and much of the second half but two first half West Ham goals were enough to pull off the double.

He Did Not Have An Awful Match, But Issa Diop Must Improve

Angelo Ogbonna getting injured against Manchester United was a massive blow to a West Ham defence that has been consistent and steady throughout the season. West Ham have only given up two goals in the four games since Ogbonna’s injury and a big reason for that has been the above-average performances from his replacement, Issa Diop.

6/10. “The Frenchman could not replicate Dawson’s brilliance next to him but still put in a solid shift. Diop was composed and did his job dutifully. However, if there was a crack in West Ham’s armour, it was the 24-year-old. On a couple of occasions, he was out of position though Leeds could not punish his mistakes”. CB. West Ham United. ISSA DIOP

However, there have been times when Diop has looked shaky at the back, being unsure with the ball and turning off for brief moments throughout the game. It happened a couple of times during the Leeds match, specifically during a sequence early in the second half that saw Patrick Bamford miss a sitter.

Diop must continue to improve as he keeps hold of Ogbonna’s spot. He sometimes did have a mistake in him in years past and he must prevent any and all of those mistakes if West Ham are to continue pushing for a Champions League spot.

West Ham Must Sign Jesse Lingard

Another topic that all West Ham fans will agree on: West Ham must do everything in their power to permanently sign Jesse Lingard from Manchester United once his loan spell is over. One wonders the fee United will command for the in-form attacker, or if United will even want to sell him at all.

Lingard has been absolutely superb for the Hammers since he signed in January. The Manchester-native has scored four goals and provided one assist in just six games in East London. He has added an extra dimension to an attack that was starting to become stagnant.

Lingard forced a bad tackle from Luke Ayling which resulted in a deserved penalty, which Lingard put away after having his initial penalty attempt saved. He also was a big part in West Ham’s great first-half performance, linking play up well between the defensive block and the rest of our attacking core. Sign the man, David Sullivan!

West Ham United
West Ham United /

West Ham United

Must Be Time To Criticize Benrahma

Said Benrahma has been a good signing thus far. It is his first year playing top-tier football, he has provided four assists in the Premier League. However, his finishing has left something to be desired as was apparent during the match against Leeds.

Benrahma completed a few wonderful runs throughout the match putting himself and others in dangerous attacking positions, but failed to challenge the Leeds keeper in any significant way. He has now played 22 matches for the club, 12 of them starts, and he has failed to register a goal.

I understand this is his first season playing Premier League football but other attacking players who have received slack (see Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen) have managed to put the ball in the back of the net, something Benrahma should do before season’s end.

He does provide an added dimension in attack and, minus Lingard, is our best player with the ball at his feet. He does, however, need to start scoring some goals as that is what he was brought to West Ham to do.

Result Was There But Performance Must Improve

At the end of the day, the win is the most important thing. Three points are three points and winning when not playing your best is the sign of a good team, which West Ham are. However, it must be said that the overall performance, especially in the second half, was nowhere near good enough if we are to compete for a top-four spot.

I simply do not remember any stretch of the second half where West Ham had a spell of possession. It seemed we would repel the Leeds attack, play a couple of passes, and lose the ball when getting into the Leeds half of the pitch.

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It was an inconsistent, shoddy performance by the boys and it must be improved upon if we are to get results against teams like United, Arsenal, and Chelsea.