Given he scored his first goal of the season – and his first in nearly a year – for West Ham United during their win against Norwich City prior to the the international break, it was no surprise to see Andriy Yarmolenko keep his spot in the starting XI for the visit to Aston Villa on Monday.
We at Football FanCast had suggested prior to the game that manager Manuel Pellegrini leave the Ukraine international on the substitutes’ bench as he continues to get back to fitness following such a long time on the sidelines, but instead the Chilean decided to choose an unchanged team from the one that tasted three points against the Canaries.
In hindsight and judging by the £17.5m man’s performance in the Midlands, it appears as though we may have been right.
The 29-year-old simply never got into the game against Dean Smith’s men, and had a remarkable 51 fewer touches, according to SofaScore, than fellow winger Felipe Anderson despite being on the field just seven minutes less than his Brazilian teammate.
Yarmolenko also failed to win any of the five duels he faced during his time on the pitch before he was replaced by Pablo Fornals, completing no dribbles and making just the one key pass.
This latest outing for the attacker was obviously a step too far as he looks to get back to his best, and it appeared as though the three successive Premier League starts caught up with him.
Of course, as well as the top flight fixtures, the 29-year-old also started both of his country’s matches during the international break, meaning it has been a busy period for the winger.
The absence of Michail Antonio through injury and the fact Yarmolenko scored in his previous showing in a claret and blue shirt meant Pellegrini stuck with him, but he failed to take into consideration the exertions that have been placed upon his player after such a long spell on the sidelines in which he missed 32 matches, according to Transfermarkt.
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For that reason, he needs to take the blame for his player’s non-existent display on Monday – especially when Pablo Fornals or Robert Snodgrass could have started ahead of the Ukrainian, too.