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West Ham v Villarreal

John Simkin

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My ratings for the West Ham team against Villarreal.

Green: Made a couple of good saves (one with his shoulder that definitely moved upwards as the ball struck him) and his handling was immaculate. He had no chance with the Villarreal goal. (7)

Neill: His distribution was very poor and was constantly out of position. Davenport, Noble and even Cole covered for him when he moved into middle. I can understand why he gets out of position when West Ham are on the attack but he does it when they are defending and left gaps for the Villarreal to exploit. I noticed that even Davenport gave him an ear-bashing after one excursion upfield. (5)

Upson: Gave a commanding performance and his distribution was also very good. Will be an important player for us this season if he stays fit. (8)

Davenport: Worked well with Upson and gave a surprisingly assured display. A stop-gap at the moment but might establish himself in the first-team. One of the best headers in the premiership. (7)

Thatcher: Got booed every time he touched the ball (which was not very often). He also gave away a couple of free-kicks in dangerous positions. I cannot understand why he is at the club. If we need somebody like Thatcher in the team we are in real trouble. (5)

Behrami: I predict he will become an Upton Park favourite. A bit raw at the moment but is full of running and tackles well. He is incredibly fit and was very impressed with his determination to get the ball back. He also looks good going forward and will provide another attacking option. Unlike Neill he also gets back quickly when the move breaks down. (7)

Noble: Normal all action performance but was let down today by his final ball. He also missed a good free-kick opportunity. (6)

Parker: Provided good cover for the back-four. I was especially impressed by the timing of his tackles and the bravery he showed blocking a couple of powerful drives. Did not see him enough in attacking positions but Villarreal were too good for that. (7)

Etherington: He started well with his cross for Cole’s job. Made several good runs and the Villarreal right-back found it difficult to handle him. However, premiership defenders do know how to deal with Etherington (a couple of bone-crushing tackles in the first few minutes of the game). Unless he has developed a new personality over the summer-break he will flatter to deceive. (7)

Cole: Took his goal well and was as usual very hardworking. He did miss a couple of good chances but he did well to get into these positions. He has all the attributes of a great centre-forward, except the one that is the most important, the ability to score a lot of goals. (6)

Ashton: If you were charitable you would say that he was making sure he was fit for next Saturday. He received poor service from a midfield that insisted on hitting it long and high to him. On a couple of occasions he did not even attempt to jump for the ball. He looked slimmer but still appeared slow off the mark. (5)

Bowyer: Provided a lot of energy but unfortunately a couple of runs into the opposition penalty area were missed by his colleagues. If used properly, could be an important player for us this season. (6)

Faubert: One good shot but was overall very disappointing. Seems to be trying too hard and rarely selected the simple option. Hopefully, he will eventually recapture the form that made him a French international player. (5)

Reid: A couple of good runs that got the fans out of their seats. Has the ability to beat people but at the moment he cannot deliver the right pass at the end of his run. Definitely someone with potential. (6)

Sears: Only on for 15 minutes but still had a couple of chances to win the game. The second one went in but was disallowed, presumably for offside. A useful player to bring on for the last 20 minutes of the game.

Hines: He had even less time than Sears to impress. However, he is full of confidence and I think he will score goals if given the chance. He seemed very frustrated when Reid failed to find him after a good run on the left-wing.

Overall it was an encouraging performance. Villarreal is a good team. They finished in second to only Real Madrid in the Primera Division last year, ten points in front of Barcelona. The club also provided three of the players in the team that won the Euro Final.

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