Thoughts After West Ham’s Disappointing Return to Action

West Ham's Tomas Soucek. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
West Ham's Tomas Soucek. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images) /

Travelling to the Emirates to nab points never seemed likely from West Ham, but a favourable start had logic suspended. The inevitable crash back to reality put things in perspective for the Hammers – something needs to change quickly.

The team was strong albeit predictable. No Gianluca Scamacca up top so Michail Antonio filled in what looked like an archetypal counter-attacking game for West Ham. Thilo Kehrer also moved centre-back and Vladimir Coufal subbed in at right-back for the Hammers.

The good in this match, which there was very limited of, started with a wonderful Said Benrahma penalty. The Algerian would have made Noble proud with a decisive shot down the middle to beat Aaron Ramsdale and give the Hammers the lead.

West Ham’s second half of the season could have gotten off to a hot start but a directionless team and poor game plan cost the Hammers.

Benrahma has been West Ham’s best attacker this season and with him now on penalties, it seems he’s cemented in the team and only going to grow his numbers offensively. He was dancing and played well with Aaron Cresswell down the left flank.

Declan Rice was also a superstar in the match, yet again forcing onlookers to wonder what the score would be without him in the team. His tackling was perfect, his ball playing was about as good as it could be, and he was a shining star as per usual.

The bad in this match was really bad, and there are four players that will garner negative attention over this match: Michail Antonio, Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, and Tomas Soucek.

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The abysmal second half for the Hammers made just about everyone in the team look flat, but Antonio’s play was absolutely horrendous. His lack of technical skills is well known by West Ham supporters now and is anticipated, but he seems to lack the pace that makes him so dangerous now.

He was unpredictable in where he was playing so his teammates couldn’t find him on the counter, and instead of using his very visible physicality, he dolphin dives to the pitch every time a defender plays him with some physicality. It’s concerning when a player who is known for being quick and physical lacks both and even more concerning for his team who needs him to bag goals.

Fabianski has been so up and down this season. A saved penalty makes him look like a hero, but the Gabriel Martinelli near-post goal to put Arsenal up 2-1 was unacceptable from a keeper with his experience. It was back-breaking for the team and a terrible goal to concede.

Coufal was just plain bad. The Czech drew a surprise start over Ben Johnson whose future with the club seems to be up in the air. Johnson is quicker, smarter, less erratic, and more of a threat moving forward. Starting Coufal was the wrong decision and he got exposed down his wing with ease.

Lastly is Tomas Soucek. The once talisman of this team has turned into a ghost. This performance saw him complete 19 passes with a 42% successful pass rate, capitalizing a truly invisible and forgettable night for the Czech. This man needs time off or coaching; something has got to give.

This boils down to a team too good to be where they are but all too deserving based off of their play. It doesn’t take a long investigation to determine David Moyes’ time may be up as he cannot get this group of players clicking on a team that shouldn’t be fighting off relegation.

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Overall, this match will put more pressure on the West Ham board to make a decision quickly. The ultra-defensive-minded manager couldn’t get his team to rebuke a limping Arsenal attack and has his team playing terrible football. Hopefully, this loss can push the club towards an uncomfortable but necessary move, replace the manager and rebound fast.