David Moyes can hand Ryan Fredericks a fresh lease of life at West Ham United after the defender produced an impressive performance in midfield against Aston Villa.
The ex-Fulham right-back was drafted in to help provide Vladimir Coufal with additional cover against Jack Grealish, with Aston Villa’s £100m talisman once again thriving in the Premier League this season.
No player in the division has created as many goalscoring opportunities than Grealish (72), while only Manchester United’s much-admired Bruno Fernandes (15) has carved out a greater volume of clear-cut chances than the England international (14), per SofaScore.
Villa’s performance was ultimately a one-man show through Grealish on Wednesday, who saw a lot of the ball to take his tally for key passes to 72 for the season with four on the night – no player for either side created as many, per WhoScored.
Yet Fredericks and Coufal doubled up to force Grealish in off the left-flank frequently and into the congested engine room, to see that the Villa skipper was far from at his usual high standards.
The pair were never likely to silence the 25-year-old for the full 90 minutes, with Harry Kane the only player across the Premier League with more assists than Grealish and Manchester City £108m-rated maestro Kevin de Bruyne (10).
Yet Moyes ought to be more than happy with Fredericks’ efforts, having done exactly what the Irons boss will have asked of him by putting pressure on Grealish and providing Coufal with cover.
But Fredericks could see his time in midfield deliver the £3.5m-rated outcast a new lease of life at West Ham, as he coupled his defensive efforts with a real threat going forward thanks to his pace.
Moyes had only started Fredericks in one Premier League fixture since September before unleashing the 28-year-old on Aston Villa, having seen Coufal come in after a £5.5m summer transfer from Slavia Prague and dominate the right-back position in east London.
Despite it not being his natural position, Fredericks looked at home in the advanced role on the right-flank, completing 18 of his passes and providing two key balls – only Moyes’ unsung hero Said Benrahma (3) recorded more for the Hammers, per WhoScored.
Jarrod Bowen, who usually starts at right-midfield for the Irons, averages 0.9 key passes a game in the top-flight, and delivers fewer accurate crosses (1.1 from 4.2) than Fredericks provided at Villa Park (3 from 4). The rarely-seen defender further offered as many successful dribbles (1) as his £96,000-per-week teammate averages a game (1.1).
So, given Moyes’ preference to play Coufal at full-back over the Manuel Pellegrini signing, Fredericks could find life in midfield after his fresh West Ham start, having remained at the London Stadium following an uncertain January transfer window.