The Runner Sports

Pre-Season Recap: West Ham 2-1 Fulham FC

West Ham notched a win in their second pre-season game, defeating Fulham FC 2-1. Following a goal-less game against Austrian side Sturm Graz II, West Ham was able to net two goals in a dominant effort. It really was a tale of two halves for West Ham as both goals were scored in the first half, while they conceded in the second.

First Half

Having the majority of the scoring chances, the first half saw Manuel Lanzini pick up where he left off his 2016/17 campaign: dominant. As shifty as ever, Lanzini welcomed the Fulham squad with a string of dangles four minutes in, punctuated by a nutmeg to break free. It only took him a few more minutes to capitalize on a string of beautiful passes that included the likes of Ashley Fletcher and Nathan Holland’s footwork to feed the Argentinian to a beautiful turn-and-shoot goal. He was simply other-worldly on the pitch today, rising above the competition and often times outplaying his own teammates, as he appeared to be a few steps ahead of most players on the pitch. This is very encouraging heading into the regular season and his play today promises more magic in the coming months.

Ashley Fletcher had a better day than his first match, as he netted a goal on a sloppy misplay from the Fulham keeper. In an improvement over his second game, Fletcher was not invisible in this match. He was buzzing around the goal and noticeable in the attack, while also ranging back into the midfield to support forward play. He does lack pace and cannot seem to manage his physical abilities to their max potential as of yet. This asset may depreciate over time and West Ham could do well to loan him out to develop more, or cash in by shipping him out to a Championship team that would suit him more so than a Premier League squad.

Josh Cullen continued to stave off the threat of a loan move in this match. Follow his impressive performance against Sturm Graz II, Cullen seemed comfortable on the pitch and was invaluable to the attack, defense, and shut down possession style play of West Ham in the first half. Not quite a youngster, but yet to reach the Premier League on a regular basis, homegrown talent Josh Cullen is doing his best to become a first team player simply by exhibiting his midfield skills. Cullen displayed his play style perfectly against Fulham which includes both defensive and offensive responsibilities. He earned the right to be the only player who started the second half and is certainly impressing in pre-season action.

Second Half

In a less than impressive half, the second squad turned in a wonky effort that saw Fulham score a goal, capitalizing on defensive laziness. Center back James Collins and left back Arthur Masuaku both let the pressure off the ball and allowed for the Fulham attackers to cut into the 18-yard box and slot a goal far post on Adrian.

Despite being involved in the goal against, Masuaku showed in this half why he is challenging Aaron Cresswell for the starting left back position as he always seems to have a hand in the team’s offense off the wing. He can blow past defenders in a midfield switch to get up field and either cut inside or whip a cross through the box, as he exemplified today.

Youth player and rising star Declan Rice also seemed to bolster his campaign to stay with the first team this upcoming season. Rice has not seemed out of place in his two pre-season games and looked the better of the second half center back pairing along side veteran back James Collins. For Collins, his position is cemented in the first team, however, Rice has plenty to prove. His athleticism is matched by his composure when he has the ball. He shows patience and defensive responsibility like a veteran. It should be mentioned that Reece Burke received similar praise in his first half appearance as well.

Final Thoughts

Other notables were keeper Darren Randolph and winger Sofaine Feghouli. Randolph appears to be the odd man out after West Ham announced the loan deal for Joe Hart, however, he managed to keep a clean sheet in the first half and made an incredible save from thunderous strike within the box. Randolph is said to be on his way to newly relegated Middlesbrough for a transfer fee nearing £5 million. Feghouli is appearing to keep up his offseason promise of being more committed to his performance on pitch for the Hammers. The knocks against him are still there, he can get out of position and can be lazy on tracking back, however, his ability to cross the ball with accuracy and regularity make him a useful player and he is certainly making the transfer team for West Ham consider keeping him.

West Ham will venture on to Germany to continue their pre-season tour until moving on to Iceland to play Manchester City before the upcoming season.

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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