Well, we have been waiting, er, about three months for the opening game of the Premier League season – but we didn’t have to wait long for the first thrashing of the new campaign. Would it really be right if West Ham didn’t concede four goals against Liverpool, though? Unfortunately, that’s the fourth time in a row.
This is the first edition of my new weekly column, where I will pick out one player or area of the team that impressed me following a positive result, and vice versa after a poor result. I think you know which one it’s going to be here.
Firstly, I am going to give due credit to Liverpool. The Reds were relentless yesterday and executed their plan perfectly, pressing from the front and counter-attacking at will. But, the Hammers did give them a massive helping hand.
Whilst it may seem harsh to pick on one player this week, I am going to make it clear that he wasn’t the only one who should be disappointed with their performance yesterday – but Arthur Masuaku is not a Premier League left-back. We all know that by now, though, don’t we?
Masuaku’s Performance Analysed
When I saw that Aaron Cresswell was struggling for fitness ahead of the start of the season, I was hoping Manuel Pellegrini would bring in another left-back. Masuaku has never, and probably will never, be good enough to play left-back at this level – and the game against Liverpool really showed that.
The main aim for the West Ham defence had to be to keep it tight in the opening 20-30 minutes and, whilst they were struggling to contain Liverpool, they did make it through the first 15 minutes still on level terms. Then, it happened. A terrible lapse in concentration led to the Reds’ first goal, which proved to be a real hammer blow for the Irons.
Who is the one person that you do not leave wide open, three yards from goal? Mo Salah. But that’s precisely what Masuaku did. You could say that it was just a mistake and he will learn from it, but I honestly do not think he will. The guy just doesn’t have the natural instincts of a left-back. It’s not the first time that we have seen him do it and it will not be the last. Don’t get me wrong, Masuaku is great with the ball at his feet, looking to take on a right-back, but you don’t want him marking Mo Salah at Anfield.
Despite a poor first-half performance, the Hammers managed to hold until the 45th minute, all they had to do was make it through injury-time to still have a chance in the game. But they couldn’t do it. The second goal was extremely poor.
I’m not going to blame Masuaku completely here, as the whole back four were nowhere to be seen. Felipe Anderson doesn’t get off the hook either. The Brazilian stopped tracking James Milner, who was allowed to pull the ball back to for a wide open Sadio Mané. However, Masuaku, as a left-back, should have been in the right position in the first place. He switched off again, meaning Anderson was left to look after the whole left-hand side. The other defenders were no better, though, they didn’t track Mané into the six-yard box. And that was game over.
It just wasn’t Masuaku’s day. His passing was off all game, he got beaten countless times, and he failed to have any impact going forward. I have nothing against the lad, he just isn’t up to it as a Premier League left-back. Masuaku’s part in this team should be as an impact player off the bench when West Ham are in need of a goal.
If Cresswell is unavailable again next week for the Bournemouth game, then maybe Pellegrini should look to play Angelo Ogbonna at left-back, or revert to a 3-5-2 formation with Masuaku at left wing-back.
At least that’s the standard Anfield stuffing out of the way. It can only get better for the Hammers from here, can’t it?