What a win! A five-goal thriller and finally a win for NUFC after 9 games without one, with goals from Saivet, Diame and Atsu seeing off West Ham to give us all an early Christmas present.
Here’s our thoughts and marks out of 10 following this afternoon’s 3-2 win at the London Stadium.
NUFC XI – (4-4-2) – Elliot– Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Manquillo – Ritchie, Saivet, Diame, Atsu – Gayle, Joselu.
Elliot – 8 – Recovered well from the odd nervy moment in the first half. Ayew’s penalty save was comfortable but crucial and he stood strong as they flung several balls into the box late on.
Yedlin – 8 – Enjoyed some great bursts forward and used his pace to our advantage on the break. Put in a superb cross in for Gayle in the first half and did his best with Ritchie to contain West Ham’s tricky Masauku. After an improved display at Arsenal, this was more like it once again from the American!
Clark – 8 – Some vital second half clearances and blocks when West Ham were throwing everything at us. We may have conceded two today, but it was a reminder of the sort of dogged display he put in alongside Lascelles so often on the road last season.
Manquillo– 7.5 – Some positive bursts forward in the first half – he looks quicker than I ever gave him credit for. His final ball was often lacking, but he had a go at them. Switched off a few times defensively and didn’t show quite enough urgency to get back for Arnautovic’s opener.
Ritchie – 8 – Did well to help Yedlin out at the back, doubling up on Masauku who looked a real threat down their left. Hit the post with a great curling effort in the first half and could’ve had a few assists if his clever cut backs had been converted. Linked up well with the marauding Yedlin on the overlap in the first half.
Saivet – 8.5 – His first start under Benitez and he took it with both hands. He started awfully, giving away the ball for their first goal, however responded immediately with a superb goal. It showed real character on his part, and he was largely impressive form then on in. A few signs of rustiness (as you’d expect!), but he got stuck in, never stopped running and did not look out of place in after being handed a rare start from Rafa. A top effort from a player whose shown a great attitude to keep his NUFC career alive in recent months when so many wouldn’t.
Diame – 8 – Another who showed real character today. He was sarcastically cheered off after an awful display against Everton recently in his last start, but he put that behind him today, putting himself about in midfield and grabbing an all important goal with an emphatic finish in the box. His performances have deserved criticism recently, but stood up to the test today and did not let us down.
Atsu – 9* – My man of the match. Grabbed our third which turned out to be the winner after a good one-two with Joselu and put it on a plate for Diame for our second. Had the beating of Zabaleta just about every time and carried the ball well on the counter. He’s looked much improved since we signed him on the summer and this was one of his best games in black and white.
Gayle – 7.5 – Worked tirelessly up top and barely gave them a moments rest. Should’ve scored, hitting the bar and firing over with two huge first half chances, but he must be applauded for all his endeavour and running today. He was a real nuisance for the West Ham back 4.
Joselu – 7 – Was generally sloppy with his play on the ground, but he did lay on the assist for Atsu’s goal and our crucial third. Won THIRTEEN aerial duels too. He needs to offer more of a threat in front of goal and has a tendency to be sloppy, but he’s doing the dirty work