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FROM LONDON STADIUM – West Ham United failed to capitalise on their superiority as they dropped more home points in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.
The point takes the Hammers out of the relegation zone on goal difference, leapfrogging Bournemouth, but it was another frustrating afternoon for David Moyes’ side as they failed to pick up a much-needed win.
Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma were the goalscorers – the latter from the penalty spot after Lucas Paqueta had been knocked over by Leon Bailey.
The Hammers came into the game after failing to capitalise on the 4-0 thumping of Nottingham Forest on February 25 – losing to Brighton by the same scoreline a week later – while Villa came back into the game after ending a run of three successive defeats with back-to-back wins over Everton and Crystal Palace.
David Moyes acknowledged in his programme notes that character is as important as a player’s footballing ability when struggling, but his side got off to the worst possible start after Benrahma had volleyed over the game’s first clear cut chance.
Alex Moreno was allowed too much space on the left flank and his floated cross was nodded into the far corner by Watkins, whose clever movement saw him evade Nayef Aguerd with ease.
Villa’s lead didn’t last long, however, as West Ham got themselves back into the game from the penalty spot. Paqueta’s bouncing shot from a Bowen corner was headed off the line, but the Brazilian picked up the rebound before being bundled over by Bailey. Benrahma took the penalty and smashed it past World Cup winner Emi Martinez.
Kurt Zouma could have nodded West Ham in front minutes later, before Watkins missed a glorious opportunity to restore Villa’s lead after failing to slide past Alphonse Areola from point-blank range.
The second half saw West Ham come out with a more positive attitude; Benrahma and Bowen the main protagonists as the relegation-threatened hosts pushed to take the lead.
Benrahma had a number of efforts on Martinez’s goal, some better than others, and did force him to tip a stinging shot over the crossbar. He also saw a late goalbound effort blocked by Ashley Young, following more good work from Bowen.
The elusive opening that West Ham needed failed to come though, and the visitors could have nicked it late on had Jhon Duran been able to sort his feet out quicker after Ezri Konsa rose highest to flick on a Villa corner. Instead, the American guided the ball into the grateful midriff of Areola.
GK: Alphonse Areola – 6/10 – Couldn’t do anything about Watkins’ opening goal but did make a superb save from the former Brentford forward before the interval.
RB: Thilo Kehrer – 6/10 – Just doesn’t have the skillset required to trouble opposition defences and support Bowen. Did okay defensively though some may argue he should have gone out to Moreno quicker.
CB: Kurt Zouma – 7/10 – Solid in the tackle and in the air – West Ham’s survival could depend on whether or not Zouma can stay fit.
CB: Nayef Aguerd – 6/10 – Lost Watkins far too easily for the opening goal, though Buendia’s run in close proximity would have distracted the Moroccan.
LB: Emerson – 6/10 – Not overly troubled by Bailey but did make a vital interception to nick the ball before the break. Good positioning on a couple of occasions cleared potential danger.
DM: Declan Rice – 6/10 – West Ham’s captain is going to be such a huge miss when he inevitably leaves – but he wasn’t at his brilliant best here. Dallied on the ball a couple of times, though his break-up play and starting of attacks remained sharp.
CM: Tomas Soucek – 5/10 – Got his foot in at times to pinch possession back but was so sloppy in other areas of his game. An ongoing concern.
CM: Lucas Paqueta – 6/10 – Good footwork enabled Paqueta to buy a penalty from the overly attentive Bailey. Did a few good things but still not anywhere near £50m+ worth of good. Booked.
RW: Jarrod Bowen – 8/10 – Bright and breezy down the right flank, Bowen was able to get in behind Moreno time and time again. Much better from the player who scored 18 in all competitions last season.
CF: Danny Ings – 6/10 – Struggled with the timings of his runs but pressed well to make a real nuisance of himself.
LW: Said Benrahma – 8/10 – End product isn’t always perfect but you can’t fault the application of Benrahma. Always positive and looking to make things happen, he slammed his penalty home with aplomb.
CM: Pablo Fornals (76′ for Paqueta) – 5/10 – Not enough time to really get overly involved but squandered an inviting opening.
CF: Maxwel Cornet (85′ for Ings) – N/A
Subs not used: Anang (GK), Johnson, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Lanzini, Downes, Scamacca
David Moyes – 6/10 – Was reluctant to change things with West Ham the more dangerous side throughout, but perhaps needed to freshen things up in midfield with Soucek so low on confidence.
GK: Emiliano Martinez – 6/10 – The Argentine felt he’d been fouled in the build-up to West Ham’s penalty, but he unfortunately just flapped at the ball.
RB: Matty Cash – 6/10 – The Pole is known for influencing games at both ends of the field, but he was far more reluctant to join the attack knowing the threat Ings and Benrahma posed on the counter.
CB: Ezri Konsa – 6/10 – Stuck to his task of managing Ings well, with Tyrone Mings often occupied by Soucek if he sauntered forward.
CB: Tyrone Mings – 7/10 – Dominant in the air, though hardly surprising with the lack of height in West Ham’s attack. Organised things well.
LB: Alex Moreno – 7/10 – Had his defensive challenges facing a lively Bowen, which likely contributed to his substitution. A good attacking outlet though with decent delivery into the box.
DM: Douglas Luiz – 6/10 – Couple of neat interceptions and always on hand to recycle possession simply but effectively.
CM: Jacob Ramsey – 7/10 – Looks to be a real talent in this Aston Villa midfield. An energetic box-to-box midfield display.
CM: John McGinn – 6/10 – Full of running in a midfield battle that matched up pretty evenly. Perhaps needs to offer more on the ball but made some smart runs.
RW: Leon Bailey – 5/10 – Didn’t impact the game how Unai Emery would have wanted, instead conceding a needless penalty with Villa ahead.
CF: Emiliano Buendia – 6/10 – Interchanged positions with Watkins throughout, dropping deep to pick up pockets of space. Slick on the ball without carving West Ham apart.
LW: Ollie Watkins – 7/10 – Bagged his sixth goal in his last seven Premier League starts thanks to some cute movement and a deft header. Missed a sitter later on.
LB: Lucas Digne (64′ for Moreno) – 6/10 – Helped Villa settle the game down a bit.
RW: Bertrand Traore (64′ for Bailey) – 6/10 – Probably saw as much of the ball in his 25-minute cameo as Bailey did throughout his hour-long stint.
RB: Ashley Young (80′ for Cash) – N/A
CF: Jhon Duran (80′ for Buendia) – N/A
DM: Calum Chambers (85′ for Watkins) – N/A
Subs not used: Olsen (GK), Sinisalo (GK), Diego Carlos
Unai Emery – 6/10 – Will be disappointed that his side didn’t really offer much of a threat to Areola’s goal. Injuries hindered the Spaniard’s options so arguably content with taking a point.