It’s time to take a look at some of the key Talking Points from our 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford yesterday-afternoon, as we began our 2017/2018 Premier League campaign with embarrassment in Manchester.
Individual errors prove costly for Hammers
It seems like for many Hammers that individual mistakes have overshadowed superb team-performances more than ever in recent times and the case was no different yesterday.
Slaven Bilic was forced to name Arthur Masuaku in the starting Xl, due to a knock picked up by Aaron Cresswell and this would prove to be costly. Just before the hour mark, the French full back was left to the mark the big Belgian Romelu Lukaku, and allowed him a free header to score United’s second.
However, it isn’t the first time that a Masuaku performance has been the cause of our downfall, like in the away loss to West Brom last season where the defender had a howler.
Pablo Zabaleta was another man whose performance came under fire on debut, as he was out of position for The Red Devils’ first-half opener. So, will individual errors continue to be the cause of our downfall for the second-season running?
Rice pushing for first-start
Young Academy-product Declan Rice made his second first-team appearance and was one of the best players on the pitch, after replacing Mark Noble in the 61st minute.
Rice is a senior Ireland international at the age of just 18 and has impressed wildly in pre-season with the first-team. Throughout his career, he has been played as a centre back, but the starlet has enjoyed a recent rebirth in midfield. After his introduction at Old Trafford, he looked wise beyond his years and outshone the likes of Pedro Obiang and Edimilson Fernandes who are permanent midfielders.
We are still without key-midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate and the Senegal international is not expected back until after the international break, with many Hammers calling for Rice to be given his first-competitive start in that time.The question on most Hammer’s lips tonight remains-will Declan Rice get a deserved first-start under Slaven Bilic when we face The Saints on Saturday.
The question on most Hammer’s lips tonight remains-will Declan Rice get a deserved first-start under Slaven Bilic when we face The Saints on Saturday.
Lukaku haunts Hammers yet again
Yesterday afternoon’s tie signalled the 13th competition match that Belgium international striker Romelu Lukaku has played against us. The tie also brought the 11th goal that Lukaku has scored against us, but why can’t a West Ham defence ever seem to handle or contain the former Chelsea man?
Hammers’ back-fours have always shuddered at the site of the big No10 crashing in and yesterday was no different. Many pundits and fans are questioning the mentality of our back-four when we come up against the forward, and putting the forward the idea that the attitude of the defence is to automatically assume that they are going to concede whenever they see his name on the team-sheet.
However, we have been treated to some awful defensive performances over the past couple of years some of which have been against Lukaku. Further evidence for us coincidently defending poorly when we face that particular player and there not being a negative attitude towards playing against him, is the solid performance that we put in against the Toffees in April to stop the striker from notching ten in a row against us.
So, will our defences ever improve against the Belgian, or have the football Gods decided that Romelu Lukaku will always score goals against West Ham United?
The injury-plague strikes again for Bilic’s boys
It is fast becoming a regular occurrence that Slaven Bilic is heading into a Premier League game with a squad hampered by injuries, as was the case in yesterday’s Premier League opener.
As many as five first-teamers were unable to make the trip to Manchester, these included Hammer of the Year Michail Antonio, Andy Carroll, Cheikhou Kouyate, Robert Snodgrass and star-man Manuel Lanzini. The missing-men clearly made a huge difference to a weakened midfield and attack against Jose Mourinho’s men.
It isn’t the first time that injury has struck recently, as we ended last season with eight first-team absentees. Whereas, players like Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho, who returned yesterday, have not been able to stay fit for quite some time. However, Head of Medical Services Gary Lewin is hopeful of having a fully fit squad by the end of the month and ready for the visit of Huddersfield Town in early September.
So, will this year finally be the season that we don’t suffer from endless casualties and have a full enough squad to mount a serious challenge for European football?