The first game of the season brings disappointment, with West Ham beating us 4-2 in a six-goal affair at St James’ Park.
We played well in the first half, but fell apart in the second. Hopefully lessons are learned and we see a much better performance against Aston Villa next week. Joe Willock will help, but he won’t solve this alone. Further reinforcements are needed if we are to play this formation.
Here’s my marks out of 10 from today’s defeat:
Freddie Woodman – 5.5 – It was great to see him make his Premier League debut. There was little he could do for any of the goals really. He made a penalty save, but his understanding with the back three may need to be worked on.
Jacob Murphy – 5 – The wing back was threatening in attack, but vulnerable at the back. He took his goal well. However, he needs to understand his defensive responsibilities. The foul for the penalty was harsh, but by diving in, the optics weren’t great.
Emil Krafth – 3 – Fans were surprised to see him on the team sheet and it wasn’t his best performance. Aaron Cresswell had a lot of success down his side. He shouldn’t be starting in the Premier League and isn’t a centre-back.
Federico Fernandez – 4.5 – He was the best of the defenders, but that isn’t saying a lot. The organisation and communication wasn’t the best in the back five. As the middle centre back and most experienced, he should be helping with that.
Ciaran Clark – 4 – It’s unfair to criticise the defenders too much, as they are unsuited to covering large areas like they are asked to in this formation. Clark offered a threat at set pieces, but his lack of pace and mobility was an issue.
Matt Ritchie – 3.5 – There are qualities that Ritchie offers, but he is often caught out at the back post. Two goals came from players ghosting in behind him. Jamal Lewis should be given another chance in the team.
Isaac Hayden – 4 – This role doesn’t suit Isaac Hayden, as he was asked to get forward and contribute in possession. We didn’t see him tackle or intercept like he usually does. It may be that in this formation he suits playing as the right centre back.
Jonjo Shelvey – 4 – It was a classic Shelvey performance. He played some nice passes, but he was easily outbattled by their midfielders. The balance in the midfield needs work if we are to become tougher to break down.
Miguel Almiron – 5.5 – The performance was a tidy one between the lines. However, like many others, the formation doesn’t allow him to thrive like he should.
Allan Saint-Maximin – 7 – If he can perform like that every week, we should have an exciting season ahead of us. West Ham couldn’t cope with his bamboozling dribbling at times, especially in the first half as he turned Cresswell inside out before firing a brilliant cross into Wilson. We need to create a more solid base to allow him to win us matches this season. One criticism, however, was him losing the ball in bad areas sometimes. He did this just prior to Benrahma’s goal to make it 2-2.
Callum Wilson – 6.5 – It didn’t take him long to get off the mark for the season. Wilson is excellent at occupying defenders and his movement causes problems. On another day, he could have scored more than one, having one clever backheeled effort and a few where the ball didn’t quite fall for him after making good runs.
Ryan Fraser – 5 – He looked lively when he was on the ball in the final third, having one whistle just white of Fabianski’s far post. The game was all but gone by the time he was brought on.
Sean Longstaff – N/A – Only came on with five minutes to play and wasn’t involved much.
Joelinton – N/A – One good ball inside to release Murphy, but not on the pitch long enough to give him a rating.