Much like on the weekend at Southampton there weren’t many candidates for last night’s man of the match.
Most of the game at the London Stadium was very similar to Southampton away. Trying to break down a deep block but with wave after wave of sideways, easy to deal with passes.
A lot of the time we spent on the ball was around West Ham’s box, but we lacked any sense of a cutting edge.
There were a couple of players who looked like they’d be the ones to change the game though and the first was Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
As you’ve probably guessed by now by reading my post-match stuff this season I’ve been calling for the youngster to be played at centre midfield but yet again we didn’t get that last night.
Instead, we moved to a back four, which I thought would accommodate Monreal to step back out to left back and allow either Calum Chambers or Rob Holding to come into the defence with Ainsley coming into midfield, but lets get into his performance.
As we had the ball for most of the game Maitland-Niles didn’t have to do too much defending but still done his thing at the back.
Playing at left back, he was solid positionally as most of West Ham’s attacks came down our right flank.
Going forward though, he had more impact on the game. Having become more comfortable on the left over the last few months, Maitland-Niles charged down the left wing with relative ease and was able to get a few good crosses in which weren’t quite converted.
Make his first start in the Premier League he was also very comfortable on the ball in tight spaces and did well to stand up to Marko Arnautovic when the two squared up. An accomplished display.
The only other candidate for man of the match last night was Jack Wilshere. Making his first start in the Premier League season the final day of the 2015/16 season (Aston Villa at home) Wilshere was head and shoulders above everyone.
We saw that he can still play in tight spaces in the Premier League as he played some very smart intricate passes to free up space and set himself free.
We also got to see the biggest strength of his game in a way we haven’t for quite a while. Yes, we’ve seen him ghost past players in the Europa League but last night was different. He seemed to have an extra second or two to evaluate the situations he was in to work out how to dodge a challenge and burst out the other side which he done expertly at times.
It wasn’t just going forward where he helped either. Whenever West Ham made attacks of their own, which wasn’t too often, Wilshere got back very well and made a good few tackles and interceptions to kill the pressure.
He could have won the game with a close-range volley towards the end of the game but shooting off his right foot he just couldn’t control the shot. Nevertheless, it didn’t take away from the performance which showed us that he should be a regular in the Premier League.