Aaron Cresswell lauded Said Benrahma for producing a “brilliant” display as West Ham United beat Leeds 2-0 on Monday night, yet boss David Moyes still wants to see more from the Algerian winger.
Benrahma and Cresswell occupied the Hammers’ left-wing at the London Stadium and nullified the threat of Helder Costa and Luke Ayling, as the Irons clinched their 14th win of the Premier League season to move up to fifth in the table.
West Ham now trail fourth-placed Chelsea by two points but with a game in hand over their rivals for a Champions League qualifying spot, after the Blues beat Everton 2-0 at Stamford Bridge earlier in the evening.
Benrahma’s start at home to Leeds saw the £20m signing from Championship side Brentford open a Premier League fixture for the 10th time in 19 outings this season, although his wait for a first goal in claret and blue persists.
The 25-year-old was clearly intent on breaking his duct in front of the net and sometimes allowed that determination to cloud his judgment, yet displayed frequent splashes of skill whenever he got his head down to drive at the visitors.
Michail Antonio, at points, was visibly frustrated with Benrahma’s occasional decision to shoot when a pass was on, while Moyes noted after the win how he felt the £23,000-per-week playmaker underwhelmed by his decision making in the final third.
“I thought he played well in the first half at times, I thought he had a couple of good shooting opportunities, but I also was hoping he would have made the final pass, and this is the thing we are looking for with him,” the Hammers boss said, via quotes by football.london.
“I think he has grown into the Premier League; I think it is not easy for him because we are looking for so many things from him, but he did a lot of good things.
“He ran the ball out, he took the ball under pressure but as I said earlier, I didn’t particularly think the forward players played as well as they should have, and I think if they had, then we would have had a chance of scoring more goals and creating more chances.”
Yet Cresswell was impressed by what Benrahma produced and let his teammate know when the six-cap international was replaced by Jarrod Bowen midway through the second period.
“Well done mate, brilliant,” Cresswell told Benrahma, via football.london’s Tom Clark.
And Cresswell was right to be impressed by Benrahma’s performance, as the pair nullified Costa and Ayling to a combined two shots, with neither able to force a save from Lukasz Fabianski, along with zero key passes or accurate crosses, per SofaScore.
Benrahma helped toward that with one successful tackle without being dribbled past during his 73 minutes on the field, while winning four of six ground duels, taking three attempts on goal and providing a key ball.
Costa lost three of his four ground duels while Ayling lost four of his seven, to warrant respective match ratings of 6.1 and 6.2 out of 10 to Benrahma’s 7/10 – the 25-year-old’s best grade for a Premier League fixture in eight games.
That’s partly because Benrahma achieved above his average 0.7 successful tackles, 2.5 ground duels won (40%) and 1.1 shots per top-flight appearance, and matching his 0.9 chances created although Jesse Lingard could not turn home his shot in the 34th minute.
If Benrahma is able to build on his Leeds performance and polish the edges that left Moyes feeling underwhelmed in attack, West Ham will have a lot to look forward to.
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