West Ham boss David Moyes opted for a 4-4-2 formation away against Liverpool on Wednesday night and while the Hammers suffered a 1-0 defeat, there were plenty of positives for the Scotsman to take away.
The Irons were unfortunate not to earn at least a point, with Jarrod Bowen’s penalty miss and Tomas Soucek’s late chance proving vital in Jurgen Klopp’s side earning the three points.
However, one aspect of West Ham’s game that simply did not work was Flynn Downes as a right midfielder in the formation and Moyes must ditch the 23-year-old when his side take on Bournemouth on Monday night.
The former Swansea City man was making his first Premier League start for the Hammers at Anfield after impressing for the Hammers in the Europa Conference League but struggled to have any real impact on the game.
Downes’ 6.4 rating from Sofascore was the joint-worst of any player to feature in the game from both sides, as he registered just 32 touches and completed a disappointing 14/21 passes, resulting in a less-than-impressive pass success rate of 67%.
Given that passing has been one of the Englishman’s most notable qualities in the Conference League games this season, it was clear that he wasn’t familiar with the right-midfield role that Moyes asked of him, and the Scottish manager should hopefully learn his lesson and only play him in the middle from now on.
It is perhaps easy to see why Moyes played him out on the wing, in the hope that he could diminish the threat offered by Liverpool’s wide players, but the only game of the game came via a Kostas Tsimikas cross from Downes’ side, which suggests that Moyes’ experiment did not pay off.
During the midfielder’s time with Swansea City, he earned a lot of praise from Russell Martin for his ability and attitude, with the former Norwich City defender, saying:
“Flynn was incredible, it’s difficult to single people out, but he does the dirty work perfectly well.”
These attributes are perhaps not as appreciated out on the wing and while it would be harsh to drop Downes after only his first start, Moyes can surely set his side up to be more attacking when they face Bournemouth at the London Stadium on Monday night, so the youngster should drop to the bench.