May 10, 2021

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Lingard and Benrahma could fire West Ham to the top four


Since David Moyes returned to the club for a second spell, no-one in the Premier League has done transfers quite as well as West Ham.

Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal have proved to be inspired additions since arriving from Slavia Prague, and even Craig Dawson – signed on loan from Watford as a reserve defender – has gone on to become a vital presence at the heart of Moyes’ back four.

But while the Irons’ transfer business has been consistent across the board, it’s hard to compare anything to the impact that Jesse Lingard and Said Benrahma are currently making in the final third.

Moyes’ side weren’t at their fluid best in their victory over Leeds, but everything they did went down the left hand side of their attack.

With Aaron Cresswell spraying the balls forward from deep, Benrahma’s inverted runs kept Leeds guessing. As he would be quick to tell you, though, that was only possible because of the movement ahead of him.

Lingard is the perfect attacking midfielder for West Ham’s 4-2-3-1 system, and it plays to his strengths to have an inverted winger coming off the left. On countless occasions in the first half he kept a central defender occupied with his positioning, allowing Benrahma to float past him with the ball and engineer an effort at goal.

The two would swap positions frequently too. From their respective heat maps, it’s difficult to tell who played off the left and who took up the ‘ten’ – it was only clearly evident off the ball, when Benrahma got back to cover for Cresswell.

They may have only started together on three occasions but seem to have an innate understanding of one another’s game.

Lingard is the one who is grabbing the headlines – he netted his fourth goal in seven appearances and his direct running was the eye-catching part of yet another positive West Ham performance – but on Monday evening at least, he seemed to benefit from Benrahma’s willingness to charge infield and share the joy.

It’s still a partnership in the making, but on Monday’s showing, it’s one that looks as if it could take West Ham up another gear. An intoxicating thought from a Hammers’ perspective, considering they are already knocking on the door of the top four.

Whether or not they have the longevity to get there in the final ten games of the season remains to be seen. But it will be fun to watch them try – especially if Lingard and Benrahma are given license to cause carnage.





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