Written by Rhys Paul
Following a disappointing and controversial loss to Chelsea on the opening weekend of the season, West Ham responded with a 1-0 victory over AFC Bournemouth. The first Premier League fixture at the London Stadium was a largely forgettable encounter with both sides struggling to hit top form. Neither reached the level of performance they are capable of, but Slaven Bilic’s team were deserved winners in the end. Michail Antonio’s strike five minutes from time ensured the visitors were made to pay for Harry Arter’s dismissal in the 77th minute and it was one of the few clear cut chances the Hammers created. The performance itself was an improvement from the week before, but there is still clearly work to be done and this will surely come as players begin to return from injury – although Andy Carroll is set for another lengthy spell on the sidelines. It was hardly spectacular, but the team have points on the board and there were encouraging signs that suggest things can only get better.
Adrian – 7
The Adrian-Randolph debate is closer than ever, but its performances like this that prove Bilic is right to stick with Adrian as his number one (or ’13’ in this case). The Spaniard pulled off a few fine saves with the best coming in stoppage time to deny Joshua King an equaliser. After something of a indifferent 2015/16 season, he looks to be back to his best following strong showings against Chelsea and now Bournemouth.
Sam Byram – 7
What a difference it made to have an actual right-back in the team. Some will say he was lucky to stay on the pitch after committing two fouls in quick succession in the first half, but it was the desire and passion he showed in those challenges that make me think Byram could become a fan favourite. He was composed in defence and a threat going forward – a huge improvement from Antonio.
James Collins – 7
Another solid performance from the ‘Ginger Pele’. Whilst he was unable to get on the scoresheet again, he did succeed in shutting Callum Wilson out of the game. He also deserves credit for pushing Jordan Ibe off the pitch after the former-Liverpool winger carried on the trend of substituted players strolling to the touchline, moments like that show which players are in tune with the fans.
Winston Reid – 6
Reid would have got a lower rating had it not been for some vital challenges and blocks. He played at a pedestrian pace and he was guilty of trying to be too ‘smart’. Sometimes a defender just needs to boot the ball out of danger and Reid could seriously learn that trait rather than always trying (and usually failing) to be neat and tidy about it.
Arthur Masuaku – 7
Another flawless display from the new signing. It is a testament to Masuaku’s performances that fans already believe Aaron Cresswell has a job on his hands to reclaim his place in the starting XI. Assured in the tackle and willing to put his body on the line, I can’t recall him losing out in a challenge. He already looks like a bargain.
Havard Nordtveit – 6
It is hard to see Nordtveit receiving many plaudits this year, but I’ll again stress his importance in balancing out the more creative members of the team. He is happy sitting deep and against Bournemouth he was quietly effective in linking defence and attack. It was also good to see his readiness in just sticking his foot through the ball in order to get it out the danger zone. Not eye-catching by any means, but he did his job well.
Gokhan Tore – 7
Tore continues to improve with each game and with it he is slowly beginning to live up to the hype surrounding his loan move. For most of the game he looked to be the team’s biggest goalscoring threat as his positioning saw a couple of half-chances fall his way. He was lively throughout and a well-hit cross following some good footwork provided the assist for the winning goal.
Mark Noble – 7
This was the standard Mark Noble performance. He drove the team forward and created space for himself and his teammates with some good control in the middle of the park. As the game wore in, he made his presence felt and took control of the midfield battle.
Cheikhou Kouyate – 7
Arguably the best player on the pitch in the first half, every West Ham fan was relieved to see his name on the team-sheet following an injury scare. He won the ball back on multiple occasions and he constantly looked a threat when striding forward with the ball. He did fade as the game progressed, but he played a part in the winner.
Michail Antonio – 8 (Man-of-the-Match)
Antonio’s rating is made up of two things: his performance and his attitude. His confidence had taken a hit against Chelsea and then Astra, but he responded fantastically in his preferred position on the wing against the Cherries. They struggled to deal with his powerful runs and he looked revitalised playing in his natural position. Scoring the winning goal will give him a huge boost and it simply confirmed that he is much better in attack than in defence.
Enner Valencia – 4
Valencia’s best spell for the club came as a striker alongside Diafra Sakho. He has since been used predominantly as a winger with less success each time, so a small part of me was intrigued by Bilic’s decision to deploy him as the lone striker. That was soon gone as Simon Francis and Steve Cook dealt with him comfortably. He’s too lightweight, his first touch is heavy and he fails to protect the ball when in possession. Any goodwill he had with the fans evaporated the moment he was substituted. With just under an hour left on the clock, he proceeded to leisurely walk off the pitch with the score still at 0-0 and he deservedly drew jeers from the home fans.
Jonathan Calleri (63′ for Valencia) – 6
He did little to impact the outcome of the game and he really should have scored in the last minute, but he spurned the one-on-one chance horribly.
Ashley Fletcher (81′ for Nordtveit) – 6
Fletcher was brought on as another attacking outlet following Arter’s dismissal. He rarely saw the ball, but he wasn’t one for lack of trying.
Pedro Obiang (89′ for Tore) – 6
Obiang is becoming a predictable substitute for when Bilic wants to shore up the team in the closing minutes. He did his job for the few minutes in which he was on the pitch.
West Ham fans, do you agree with these ratings? Let us know in the comments below!