Bowen and Yarmolenko lucky not to be punished
Jarrod Bowen had an okay game. Nothing spectacular, but not dreadful either. He played an important part in the game’s only goal, making a well-timed run onto Said Benrahma’s pass and laying it off to Pablo Fornals.
The Spaniard’s cross was perfect and Michail Antonio finished with ease.
Bowen could have killed the game off in the second half on a couple of occasions. With ten minutes remaining the winger received a pass from Antonio but dallied too long and the opportunity was gone.
The other when a raking pass from Rice set him through on goal, but he lacked composure and his shot was well wide.
This is not to put Bowen down, he put in a shift on Saturday, was key to the FA Cup win on Monday, and has been a fantastic signing for the club. He just needs to sharpen up a little in front of goal and then he will be a huge attacking weapon for West Ham.
Yarmolenko also wasted a golden opportunity in the dying minutes, ignoring the free Antonio coupled with his own weak effort is not a good combination. Unlike Bowen, Yarmolenko does not have the work-rate to make-up for other deficiencies in his game and can expect to remain a substitute in the weeks to come.
West Ham have a settled back five; Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, Craig Dawson, Angelo Ogbonna, and Aaron Cresswell.
A lot of recent credit has been given to the Dawgbonna partnership, none more so than from this correspondent, but they deserve praise as a collective.
The number of headers won by the centre-back on Saturday, against the likes of Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood, was astonishing. Coufal and Cresswell got in on the act as well, and not just in the air, the back five threw themselves in front of Burnley shots as the visitors pushed for an equaliser.
And on the rare occasion, it wasn’t a Dawgbonna head on the cross Fabianski was there to catch or punch clear.
With summer transfer target James Tarkowski losing Antonio for the games only goal, David Moyes looked on with great pride as his defence stood strong.
After the game Moyes singled out Dawson and Ogbonna in particular for praise, saying the two “stood up to be counted.”
Michail Antonio played up-front on his own, as he usually does, but he is a lone striker in more sense than one. Antonio is the only striker in the West Ham squad old enough to vote.
Mipo Odubeko was named on the bench for the second successive game but this time got less than his two-minute cup appearance, by remaining there.
Moyes knows he has a talented youngster in Odubeko, saying before the game that “he is a player we have big hopes for”, but he did not feel comfortable throwing the youngster on and given Antonio a breather today, understandably so.
This leads to one obvious conclusion, West Ham need another striker.
Granted that is hardly the work of Sherlock Holmes.
I know it, you know it and Moyes knows it, speaking post-match the manager confirmed that he is looking to bring in a striker, but that right now there is not a player close to signing:
“We’ve already made big inquiries and offers for players at clubs, which have not been accepted or obviously we would have signed somebody. It is not as if we are not trying, we have tried.”
Rival chairman will be licking their lips at the sound of that, with millions being added daily to the cost of any player that West Ham are interested in no doubt.
Issa Diop ready to return
One thing that may have gone under the radar was the return of Issa Diop.
He did not make it onto the pitch but he was named on the substitutes bench. Had the ball gone out of play in the final few minutes the young Frenchman was poised to come on and bolster the defence.
His return is good news all round, if he stays at the club he provides another option in defence, particularly as Fabian Balbuena remains unavailable due to coronavirus protocol.
If he is to leave, he is likely to be a far more attractive proposition if he is ready to play from day one rather than sign and head straight to the treatment table.
Tarkowski is the wrong Burnley player to target
West Ham’s interest in James Tarkowski was not a secret, but perhaps he was the wrong Burnley player to be looking at
Dwight McNeil was only a substitute for Sean Dyche’s men but was arguably the Clarets’ best player after his half-time summons.
His dribbling at pace is similar to the way Tottenham forward Son Heung Min ghosts past opponents. He is an old-fashioned winger who gets to the by-line and puts crosses in, one of which almost dropped in on Saturday.
Coufal had a tough ask containing the wide-man, and as the game wore on McNeil’s pace became too much for him. He knocked the ball past him and crossed deep into the box, and West Ham were fortunate it bounced off the bar and away to safety.
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With the aerial ability of Soucek and the finishing of Antonio, McNeil would be an excellent addition to the Hammers team.
Prising him away from Turf Moor this transfer window, however, will be costly and the chances of it happening slim.
If Dyche continues to leave him out of his first XI then maybe it is a move to look at in the summer transfer window, for now, West Ham have priorities in other areas, namely a striker.