West Ham United will have to wait another week to try and get points on the board in the new Premier League season, having fallen to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of newly-promoted Nottingham Forest on Sunday afternoon.
Buoyed by raucous home support at the City Ground – in what was the stadium’s first top-flight encounter since 1999 – Forest ran out 1-0 victors courtesy of a first-half strike from summer signing Taiwo Awoniyi, the striker turning home after a deflected effort from former Hammers loanee Jesse Lingard kindly fell at his feet.
The away side will have potentially felt somewhat hard done by as Said Benrahma saw an early opener ruled out due to a foul by Michail Antonio in the build-up, albeit with few complaints to be had after skipper Declan Rice later spurned a glorious chance for an equaliser from the penalty spot.
With the hosts hanging on to secure all three points, the Englishman’s miss will no doubt dominate the headlines, albeit with there perhaps having been a bigger villain among David Moyes’ side in the form of young, Ben Johnson.
The 22-year-old academy graduate enjoyed a real breakout campaign last time, making 35 appearances in all competitions after proving himself a hugely reliable figure at full-back on either flank.
Full-back, however, is likely where the Englishman should remain, having enjoyed a real tough afternoon at centre-back once again in the Midlands, after also lining up in that role at home to Manchester City on the opening weekend.
With summer signing Nayef Aguerd facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines and with Angelo Ogbonna still not back to full fitness, Moyes has turned to Johnson to fill the centre-back void so far this term, with the ever-reliable Craig Dawson also seemingly not deemed ready to feature.
That move – while enforced – notably backfired as the £8.1m-rated prospect struggled to contend with the lively and dynamic Awoniyi in attack, with it his, albeit unfortunate, deflection that had teed up the Nigerian for the eventual matchwinner.
The £2.5k-per-week man also recorded a dismal 63% pass accuracy rate having been particularly sloppy in possession, losing the ball on 13 occasions as the visitors struggled to really make a foothold in the match.
That showing unsurprisingly saw him take home an underwhelming 6.5 match rating, as per SofaScore, with that the joint-lowest among players in either starting XI, alongside teammate Jarrod Bowen.
Such a frustrating outing should not define his career at the club, particularly as it came in an unfamiliar role, although his deployment at the heart of the defence was no doubt a factor in the eventual result.
In truth, the only positive that could come from his display is that it may speed up the search for a new defensive recruit, amid reports linking the club with the likes of Thilo Kehrer and Attila Szalai.