The Runner Sports

Pre-Season Game 3: West Ham 0-1 Werder Bremen

West Ham continued their pre-season action in a two-game series for the Betway Cup in Germany on Friday, losing the first leg of the action. West Ham looked unsettled and slow to start as the German side capitalized in the first half off of some sloppy defensive play to beat Adrian through a diving James Collins. The squad was broken into two teams, a 60-minute team and a 30-minute team. The latter contained the majority of first team players and when subbed on had a noticeable effect on the game.

Who Impressed

This has been a trend this pre-season, but the youngsters impressed and were the best players on the pitch. Declan Rice, the up and coming center back showed his versatility in playing a CDM anchor role in front of both pairs of center backs in the match. In the now expected impressive fashion that he plays in, Rice was responsible on defense and acted as an outlet for the defenders to move forward. He was not caught out of position and did not over extend into the attacking field. When Pedro Obiang was subbed on for an injured Mark Noble, he was visibly comfortable to join the attack as he knew he had Rice covering the defensive side of the midfield. He plays with a maturity beyond his years and has played management into a tough position for their first team selections.

Nathan Holland was a constant threat throughout his time in this game. He cut up the wings with powerful turns and was able to cruise passed defenders after pushing the ball ahead. He was constantly attacking the box, whether through cutting in or by crossing through the air. He was a constant headache to the German defenders. Holland was replaced in the final 30 minutes and was missed in the final portion of the match.

Keeper Adrian, who has recently been unhappy with the opinions and decisions of the team’s owners, played extremely well today. In the midst of transfer speculation and rumors, Adrian put up a wonderful performance. Some standout events were the save he made sweeping his legs across the side of the net to make a spectacular save after Collins flubbed his back pass, and the two lightning quick saves he made in succession that each could have been buried in the net. Manager Slaven Bilic has publicly stated he wants Adrian to stay this season and will be offering him a new contract to back that belief. With Noble off in the second half, Adrian was given the captain’s armband, a move that bolsters the belief that Bilic wants the Spanish keeper to remain on the team.

Who was bad

What should be said is that Robert Snodgrass, who now lives his life under the microscope of the team and fans, was not the worst player on the pitch today. He was not impressive, however, he did show flashes of brilliance with play down the wing and balls into the box. Right back Pablo Zabaleta spent a lot of time up the pitch and attacking in the final 30 minutes and assumed some of Snodgrass’ responsibilities as well.

Some notables for who was actually bad were captain Mark Noble, James Collins, and Aaron Cresswell. Noble picked up a knock early in the match and was replaced by Obiang so it is hard to pin any aspect of the game on him too much. It seemed like he was hesitant, for the most part, moving forward, perhaps because of the addition of a young CDM. It would turn out that Noble had nothing to worry about as Rice played well throughout the match. Hopefully, Nobel is back up and in action soon, and that the decision to remove him was purely precautionary.

James Collins started the match and was on the 60-minute team along side Reece Burke at center back. Collins looked unsettled from the start; the ball was constantly popping off his foot, he never seemed settled, and funneled the ball to Adrian instead of moving forward. Collins was partly responsible for the goal scored and did his best to add another for Werder Bremen but Adrian bailed him out. He has been mentioned in transfer rumors lately and perhaps the shakiness of his future unsettled his game. Either way, he is a veteran who is instrumental to the play and development of this team. Collins gets a mulligan for his game today, and is expected to pick it up to its usual sharpness tomorrow.

Aaron Cresswell seemed completely lost on the pitch today. Mired in a close battle for the starting left back position with Arthur Masuaku, Cresswell did not help his case in this positional fight. He was hesitant to attack, missed assignments on defense, and was not his usual self which is hard-nosed to attackers and poignant on his fiery crosses. He would be my pick for worst player in the match for West Ham, and needs to raise his level of play if he wants to be a starter this season. What hurt his image, even more, was the spectacular play of Masuaku in the final 30.

West Ham is set to play Werder Bremen Saturday, July 29, in the second and final leg of the Betway cup. The possible addition of striker Javier Hernandez to the squad, as well as Joe Hart, could beef up the performance of the team. As well, Bilic should look to implement more of his starters to help build game-tested chemistry. While pre-season games are for training and fitness, West Ham can start the season off right with a meaningless Cup win, and head into their Manchester City pre-season game in Iceland on the right foot.


Adam Smith
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Adam Smith

West Ham United Writer at The Runner Sports
Proud supporter of the Claret and Blue, West Ham United!
Actively interested in transfer news, match reports, developing story lines, and all things West Ham United!
Adam Smith
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