Full-time Declan Rice and Mark Noble reaction as West Ham transfer dilemma is evident
The European dream is not gone
West Ham’s Champions League hopes took a hit on Sunday afternoon, but the dream is not over yet. The Hammers have three winners to finish the season, starting next weekend with a trip to Brighton, who only have one in six wins.
David Moyes’ side then head to the Hawthorns to face West Brom, with the relegated Baggies having won just one of their last five games.
And finally, the Hammers return home for the last day of the season to face a Southampton side who have managed just one win in eight Premier League games. West Ham will also have the privilege of doing so in front of 10,000 local supporters.
Take nine points and the pressure will be on Leicester to get at least four against Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs, then count on maintaining their best goal difference of ten goals. Liverpool are only one point behind West Ham with one game going, so he’s part of the mix as well.
There is still a lot of football to play this season and qualifying for the Champions League when the ultimate dream is not the whole and the end.
Coming so close and missing it will be maddening, but the Europa League is a wonderful consolation prize, as Moyes said:
“If we qualify for Europe it will be an incredible achievement whatever tournament we are in because it has been a great season and we hope we can continue.”
There will hardly be a Hammers fan who honestly predicted West Ham would be in fifth place with just three games to go. Moyes himself has said he would have been delighted with a Europa League spot at the start of this season, now is the time to refocus, prepare for a weakened Brighton and get back on track after a streak of three losses in four.
European football is still in West Ham’s hands and as brilliant as this season has been to leave European places now would be a catastrophic waste of 17 months of hard work by Moyes and the team.
The West Ham captain was out of action again due to the calf injury he suffered against Chelsea two weeks ago and the skipper was in the stands alongside Declan Rice.
By the final whistle, Rice was out of her seat and straight to her phone. Noble was still for a few minutes, no phone, no conversation with those around him, he was just sitting there, slumped in his seat, his head tilted.
Equally frustrated were the players on the pitch, many were on their hips or flat on the floor. Vladimir Coufal, who is well known for his emotional reaction to defeats, found the closest football and hit him as hard as he could in frustration.
For the captain to sit in the stands helpless it must have been difficult as he saw his team give a soft goal and offer so little attack.
There was clearly a lot going on when the referee called the time, a penny for his thoughts on the final whistle?
West Ham’s three-game losing streak came at the wrong time, but it was no coincidence that it coincided with a number of injuries to key players. Rice has been absent for six matches, Angelo Ogbonna’s availability in 2021 was sketchy, Noble missed the last two and a few minutes before halftime, the excellent Manuel Lanzini hampered.
Aaron Cresswell joined Lanzini on the sidelines of the second half and despite Moyes insisting West Ham haven’t had any bad luck on the injury front this season, the loss of big players late in the season has hit home. harshly the Hammer.
The only injury Moyes identified as having taken a toll on his team was the loss of Rice: “We lost one of our best players. [Declan Rice] playing for England and not playing for West Ham and it certainly impacted the last few games. “
However, the manager added: “I actually think we’ve had a great year with injuries that we really have. It’s tough when you lose some of your players at key times, but all clubs have had that. . “
A sign of the small team Moyes is dealing with is that when chasing a late equalizer he calls in a player who in all likelihood won’t be a hammer next season. Andriy Yarmolenko replaced ineffective Said Benrahma with 17 minutes remaining and the Ukrainian barely touched the ball.
He cannot be entirely blamed for this as he was not given many opportunities to influence the game. But with Michail Antonio on the sidelines of the game and Moyes clearly deeming Mipo Odubeko too raw for Premier League football , Yarmolenko was the only option.
If West Ham gets into secure European football of any kind next season, the depth of the squad and especially the options up front are the most pressing issues facing the manager.
Lingard’s minor plunge continues
There is no doubt about the huge impact Jesse Lingard has had during his short stint at West Ham, but after a fabulous start to life at the stadium in London his last three games have been calm by his standards.
He was not on the song against Everton who defended superbly, Lingard’s poor performance and lack of space to operate on the counterattack hampered the England international.
The 28-year-old was not on the scoresheet against Burnley but played well with space to run down the Clarets backline after a tough game the week before against Chelsea.
The silver lining in this little problem for Lingard could be that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United decide he may be in surplus for Old Trafford’s needs.
There was talk of Lingard returning to his childhood club and fighting for his future, but it’s entirely possible that this series of games would remind Solskjaer why he thought he could cope without the attacking midfielder.
The consistency to turn Manchester United from runner-up into champion and the ability to play games even against tight defenses has been missing from Lingard’s games recently.
He’s a superb player and a West Ham would love to have at London Stadium next season, so maybe the slight drop has an advantage for the Hammers after all.
Pablo Fornals has become an unstoppable player for Moyes, his versatility helps as does his pace of work, but his passing ability and technical skills are often overlooked.
The Spaniard started the game on the right before moving to central midfielder following the injury to Manuel Lanzini.
Fornals took over from the Argentine and led the game from the center, his passes were excellent and he kept the team moving forward.
In front of him, the Hammers struggled. Antonio continued to drift to the left wing, leaving the midfield vacant and taking up room for the others to collide. Neither Bowen nor Yarmolenko thrived on the right and credit must be given to Everton for their defensive setup.
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However, the two best chances West Ham both had came from Fornals. In the first half, his perfect cross implored Benrahma to come home for his first Hammers goal, but the Algerian narrowly missed the mark.
Fornals was once again in the thick of the action in the second half when he found Coufal with a nice ball just for the Czech’s cannon shot inside the post. Coufal’s effort was unfortunate not to bounce back, but Bowen’s follow-up was unfortunate and fell to safety.
The Spaniard is part of the West Ham squad, it doesn’t matter who’s in shape, but with his performance in the second half he has shown his coach he can fit in anywhere in the midfield if needed.