Said Benrahma has left David Moyes powerless to omit the Algerian forward after the Brentford loanee excelled in West Ham United’s victory over Leeds on Friday night.
Moyes opted to hand Benrahma his first start in claret and blue following a late injury to Arthur Masuaku, which forced West Ham to deviate from the five-man defence which has inspired their solid form this season.
Benrahma had featured for just 78 minutes of Premier League football before the Hammers took to the pitch at Elland Road, as Moyes struggled to see a reason to bench his favoured attackers Pablo Fornals or Jarrod Bowen, believing the pair were playing “really well”.
In the end, Masuaku’s injury and a move to a four-man defence allowed Moyes to introduce Benrahma to his starting plans in behind striker Sebastien Haller to provide an added level of creativity beside Fornals and Bowen.
Benrahma upstaged his more established teammate Fornals with a game-changing display as the Hammers clinched a 2-1 win to move up to fifth in the table, with more points beside their name after the opening 12 games than early high-flyers Everton and title-hopefuls Manchester City.
Former Irons defender Anton Ferdinand was among the hordes to applaud the 25-year-old for his performance, seemingly confident that only good things can come from the £5million loan signing who West Ham are obliged to buy for £20m next year.
“Benrahma looks like he could be a maverick for us,” Ferdinand shared in a post on Twitter. “Loves the ball at his feet, very comfy and loves to make things happen!”
VAR stole the show at Elland Road when Mateusz Klich was allowed to retake his penalty after Lukasz Fabianski was deemed to have been off his line whilst making the initial save, but Benrahma’s performance ensured a spotlight focused on him as well.
The six-time Algeria international may not have registered a third assist of the season to pair with his game-winning involvement in goals against Fulham or Aston Villa, and may still be without a maiden goal for West Ham, yet achieved what Moyes tasked him with being. A nuisance for Leeds star Kalvin Phillips.
West Ham often found themselves without possession while Benrahma was on the field, as Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites controlled 65.7% of the ball before Moyes opted to introduce Mark Noble six minutes from time to instil an added defensive presence in the engine room.
Yet Benrahma still recorded the joint-second-most touches by a visiting player with 45, only Aaron Cresswell (52) took more, and played one key ball from 15 accurate passes, per WhoScored.
Benrahma came into his own when with an eye for goal, as he unleashed a game-high six efforts on Illan Meslier’s net, though only forcing the Leeds’ shot-stopper into making a save once.
Only Bowen could match his 100% dribble success rate, too, among any Irons player to feature, with Benrahma able to beat his marker with each of his three attempts as the £23,077-per-week forward won five of nine ground duels, per SofaScore.
Moyes will no doubt like to see Benrahma fine-tune his shooting, but is now powerless to omit the 25-year-old from his starting plans after seeing what he can bring to the side having bided his time for a chance to shine.