Player ratings as superb hammers go fourth
A superb display of attacking football from West Ham earned them a well-deserved 3-2 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Tuesday night.
The Hammers got off to the worst possible start, as Wilfried Zaha pulled off a magnificent effort in front of Lukasz Fabianski with just three minutes on the clock. But the lead didn’t last long as Pablo Fornals and Michail Antonio combined to give Tomas Soucek the opportunity to shoot a header from close range.
From that moment on, West Ham took control of the game and really could have been three of four at halftime. In fact, they entered the break leading 2-1, after Soucek grabbed onto Aaron Cresswell’s free kick for good control and home shot from a sharp angle.
Antonio missed a handful of chances – hitting the post twice – but nothing stopped Craig Dawson’s imposing header on Jarrod Bowen’s superbly delivered corner. Michy Batshuayi pocketed a consolation for the stoppage times, but it was a worrying night for Roy Hodgson’s palace as the defensive weaknesses that reared their ugly head in Liverpool’s 7-0 home punch are again in the foreground.
In truth, it could have and should have been more for West Ham. Here are your scores for the two groups of players.
Vicente Guaita (GK) – 8/10 – Produced a series of formidable reaction saves to keep Palace in the game. There was nothing he could do with West Ham’s first or third goal, but he might think he should have avoided Soucek’s second.
Joel Ward (RB) – 5/10 – At times a bit overwhelmed as Palace struggled to avoid waves of relentless attacks from West Ham.
Cheikhou Kouyate (CB) – 5/10 – Sometimes Kouyate looks solid as a rock, other times he looks everywhere. Couldn’t keep up with West Ham’s move and his lack of communication with Cahill was highlighted by a sickening clash of heads.
Gary Cahill (CB) – 6/10 – Had a slightly better night than his partner in central defense, but Cahill’s experience was not enough to organize Palace and quash the threat from West Ham.
Tyrick Mitchell (LB) – 6/10 – He’s still learning his craft and arguably had a better night than Ward on the other side. Must offer more opportunities in the future.
Andros Townsend (RM) – 5/10 – Not a big game for Townsend, who has failed to run with the ball once. Substituted on time as Roy Hodgson sought to curb West Ham’s momentum.
James McArthur (CM) – 6/10 – Still busy in the heart of the midfield but failed to keep up with West Ham’s runs indoors. I found it difficult to move the ball forward effectively, but it developed late.
Luka Milivojevic (CM) – 6/10 – The recycled game played well, but his lack of pace often gave Benrahma a free point at Palace full-backs.
Eberechi Eze (LM) – 5/10 – Unable to enter the game because West Ham dominated after the drawing level. Tilted to the right to try to get back into the game but with no real improvement.
Christian Benteke (ST) – 6/10 – Did well to team up with Zaha for the goal but struggled to win as West Ham dominated.
Wilfried Zaha (ST) – 7/10 – Fabulous movement and fast feet for his first goal. Frustrated by Palace’s inability to keep the ball and missed a glorious opportunity to tie the game.
Michy Batshuayi (ST) – 6/10 – A neat finish in the stoppage time earned the Belgian his first goal since returning to the club.
Jairo Riedewald (CM) – 6/10 – Came to provide fresh legs in midfield and played a role in Batshuayi’s goal.
Jordan Ayew (ST) – 6/10 – Love playing West Ham, so maybe surprisingly he didn’t come earlier than 70 minutes. Nice film to help Batshuayi’s goal.
Lukasz Fabianski (GK) – 6/10 – There was nothing I could do against Zaha’s opener, but he made a superb save for her early in the second half. Grant that and the game could have turned.
Vladimir Coufal (RB) – 7/10 – Kept more on his toes by Eze after a fairly quiet 45 minute opening. As stoic and resilient as ever, it looks like he could run all day if asked. Decent output in the future.
Craig Dawson (CB) – 7/10 – Engaged in a war of words with Zaha in the first half of the year and generally kept the Ivorian calm. Crazy to think his signing was considered a disaster this summer, capping another decent display with a big-headed goal.
Angelo Ogbonna (CB) – 6/10 – Unusually, he rushed over and failed to dispossess Zaha on the edge of the box, who then fired into the opener. Not his best hour but relatively solid.
Aaron Cresswell (LB) – 7/10 – Nice performance for Soucek’s second goal, something he is incredibly consistent with. Responsible for a superb referee swearing in the first half, delivered eloquently in his thick Merseyside accent.
Declan Rice (CM) – 7/10 – Possession recycled superbly, keeping it simple to allow damage to be done further down the field. Maybe he could have closed the space faster for Zaha’s opening.
Tomas Soucek (CM) – 9/10 – Deserves a lifetime supply of potato salad and whatever he wants in life. Superb box-to-box midfielder performance, crowned with two goals of genuine instinct and knowledge of how the game can play out.
Said Benrahma (AM) – 7/10 – Dribbled well with the ball and was always looking for fashion opportunities. Really needs a goal but another promising performance.
Jarrod Bowen (RF) – 7/10 – Probably the least efficient player going forward, but his willingness to cut in and drop off allowed Antonio and Benrahma to move behind and find space. Exceptional delivery for Dawson’s third.
Michail Antonio (ST) – 7/10 – Is such a threat up front, running endlessly through the canals or coming in deep to catch the ball. Gave Kouyate and Cahill a real roundabout, the only downside was that he could – and maybe should – have scored four himself.
Pablo Fornals (LF) – 7/10 – A superb pass allowed Antonio to pass for Soucek’s opener. Well connected and seamlessly moved around the field to reclaim pockets of space.
Ryan Fredericks (RB) – N / A
Andriy Yarmolenko (ST) – N / A
Mark Noble (CM) – N / A
For more than Toby Cudworth, follow it on Twitter!