Tomas Soucek offered David Moyes cause for concern as the West Ham United midfielder lost 72% of his duels while representing the Czech Republic at home to Israel in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday night.
Soucek has been a key aspect of Moyes’ plans at the London Stadium this term, with the 25-year-old just one of three outfield players to have featured for all 720 minutes of available Premier League action since the Hammers turned his loan move permanent for £19.1million this summer.
The former Slavia Prague ace’s game-winning goal at home to rivals Fulham prior to the November international break also saw Soucek become one of just seven players to have scored a top-flight goal in claret and blue this term, ending a nine-game drought.
Moyes would have hoped to see Soucek carry his east London form through the international break in order to return at his best for this weekend’s trip to Sheffield United, but was instead left with cause for concern after a stilted display at home to Israel.
Moyes has been full of praise for Soucek since the midfielder’s initial arrival on loan in January, with the West Ham boss noting earlier in the year how the 29-cap international’s initial form ensured he was never in a position to consider not pursuing a permanent deal.
The only way the Hammers chief felt Soucek would not return to the London Stadium would have been had West Ham suffered relegation, noting via quotes by football.london: “He was always sticking around.
“The only way he wouldn’t be was if we went down, but we always had him in our plans to be with us and he is a West Ham player. Simple as that. Tomas is really starting to blossom.
“To join a club in the Premier League and to make an impact so quickly is not easy, it takes time. Tomas has certainly helped us. Without him, I am not too sure we would have definitely remained a Premier League club.”
Soucek has maintained his importance at the London Stadium with West Ham’s most aerial duels attempted (87), won (48) and successful tackles (16), joint-most shots (18), third-most interceptions (11), fourth-most clearances (18) and fifth-most total passes (256) so far this term, per WhoScored.
He could not replicate those levels for the Czech Republic as a sole goal from Vladimir Darida assisted by Vladimir Coufal in the seventh-minute decided the Nations League tie, with Soucek struggling on-route to SofaScore’s joint-lowest match rating by a home player.
Soucek earned just a 6.7 out of 10 for his efforts, thanks to losing three of his four ground duels, two of his three aerial duels, turning over possession nine times, committing two fouls and seeing his only shot of the game blocked.
Furthermore, Czech Republic boss Jaroslav Silhavy only saw Soucek make one interception and three clearances as he failed to register a successful tackle while misplacing 17% of his 46 attempted passes.
Moyes will be hoping that it was only an off night from Soucek and not a sign of things to come, as he prepares to lead West Ham into Bramall Lane this Sunday.