The perfect start to the season for Steve Bruce, with new boys Callum Wilson and Jeff Hendrick scoring in a 0-2 win at West Ham.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with my mark out of 10:
Darlow – 6 – Given a start in the absence of the injured Martin Dubravka. He was rarely called into action but got down low to deny Michail Antonio in the first half and helped us to a rare clean sheet with a solid performance. A nice confidence boost a day after signing a new deal at SJP.
Manquillo – 8 – One of our more underrated players. Kept the dangerous Pablo Fornals in his back pocket the entire game and combined well with Jeff Hendrick down the right hand side, helping to create the first goal.
Lascelles – 6 – Part of a solid defensive unit that didn’t allow West Ham to create much at all from open play. Caught out with the odd cross that Soucek beat him to, but maintains his solid centre-back partnership with Fernandez.
Fernandez – 7 – Arguably our most consistent player, the Argentinian was again strong in defence and won the majority of his duels with the powerful Michail Antonio. Hard to rate the defence any higher as West Ham were so poor going forward.
Lewis – 7.5 – A good debut for the £15 million signing, with him keeping Bowen quiet and looking assured on the ball. He made constant overlapping runs and and created two chances for Callum Wilson early on with good crosses into the box. Looks to have solved our left-back crisis and is an apt Willems replacement.
Hendrick – 9* – Looked tidy early on and soon proved why Bruce dropped Almiron for him, with some superb defensive work down the right and nice link up play with Manquillo. Grew into the game and then headed Manquillo’s deflected cross into the path of Wilson for the opener, before striking a beauty past Fabianksi. A perfect debut for the Irishman and my man of the match.
Hayden – 7.5 – He must be wondering how he’s not in the England set up and Declan Rice is after that. Broke up everything in the middle of the park and alongside Jonjo Shelvey completely controlled the tempo of the game. A typically strong showing a day after he put pen to paper over a new five-year deal.
Shelvey – 7 – One of his more industrious performances of recent times, he never stopped running and impressed more on the defensive end for me, very disciplined performance from the midfielder. Also played a few brilliant balls in to space for the
Saint-Maximin – 6 – Fairly frustrating evening for the Frenchman – due to West Ham’s game plan. Ryan Fredericks hacking him down twice in the first 30 perfectly sums it up. When he actually got the ball, he displayed that flash of pace and spark that we saw time and time again last year, although he wasn’t quite as ‘on it’ as he has been in recent months. Unspectacular by his high standards, but still did a solid job.
Carroll – 7.5 – Proved why Steve Bruce trusted him with a start. Showed fitness levels that we haven’t seen for the best part of a decade and held the ball up brilliantly, giving us another attacking outlet. Only needed a goal to cap off a good performance and came close with that right-footed volley.
Wilson – 8 – Seemingly everything we’ve needed in a striker in recent years. Came close three times in the first half from three half chances. Always threatened in behind and combined well with Carroll. Wasn’t going to be denied an 8th goal in 9 games against West Ham and stabbed past the keeper in the 55th minute. One of three debutants to do brilliantly.
Joelinton – 6 – Played the final 20 minutes but found it hard to affect the game, aside from a few neat passes in field to get us on the break. Nice to see him involved on the left-wing instead of up front, certainly looks more comfortable there. Sharpness will come as his fitness improves.
Miguel Almiron – 7 – Only played 11 minutes in total but had a point to prove after being dropped for Hendrick and set up the Irishman for his goal. Looked lively, but could’ve made more of his chance late on when he got in behind the defence. Still deserves a 7 for his ability to unsettle the West Ham defence late on and set up our crucial second.
Sean Longstaff – N/A