After receiving plenty of criticism in pre-season, both Roberto and Carlos Sanchez went some way to silencing the doubters last night. West Ham beat Newport County 2-0 with strong performances from Roberto and Sanchez.
Roberto helped West Ham to their first clean sheet of the season and it was not just a night of plain-sailing for him. Meanwhile, Sanchez excelled in the holding midfield role while Manuel Pellegrini rested Declan Rice.
During pre-season, both players were at fault for several errors and West Ham fans were worried to see their names on the teamsheet last night. But this could be the performances that help them push on at West Ham.
Newport display was fine but can you do it in the Premier League?
The next challenge for these two players, particularly Sanchez, is to replicate this form against stronger opposition. While Newport represented a banana-skin fixture by being an in-form side with a reputation for cup upsets, they are still a League Two side.
Sanchez reportedly earns £70k-per-week (Claret & Hugh). At this price, he should be standing out in a game against a team three divisions below. The next aim is to take his form into the Premier League.
Roberto might have a tougher time than Sanchez in this respect because he will not get the chances. Unless Lukasz Fabianski is injured, Roberto will need to wait for the next round to play again. But this could be against a better team and he needs to make sure he is just as organised and focused between the sticks.
Sanchez is the only back-up option West Ham have behind Rice (other than youngster Conor Coventry). The Colombian midfielder has not done enough to justify his pay packet at West Ham and now needs to prove people wrong if he is called upon in the league.