Leeds winger Jack Harrison scored his first career hat-trick in East London as Marcelo Bielsa’s side showed resilience by taking the lead three times after Jarrod Bowen and Pablo Fornals’ equalisers.
However, the defeat could prove to be a major blow in David Moyes’ side’s hopes of securing Champions League football this campaign with the Hammers still fourth but just two points ahead of fifth-place Arsenal who have two games in hand.
With winger Said Benrahma away on African Cup of Nations duty with Algeria, summer signing Nikola Vlasic is likely to be handed more game time by Moyes, with the Croatian handed a rare start against Leeds. However, the 24-year-old failed to take his opportunity.
According to SofaScore, the winger made just 24 touches, losing possession 12 times, meaning he lost the ball for every two touches he made. Vlasic’s creativity was certainly lacking too, failing to offer a single shot, accurate cross, key pass or successful dribble.
There was little offering in the defensive department too, with no tackles, interceptions or clearances with the Croat being withdrawn just after the hour mark. Overall, the wide man was rated 6.1/10 by SofaScore.
It will certainly disappoint Moyes that Vlasic was unable to take his opportunity after publicly stating that he will receive game time with the absence of Benrahma, particularly against a side who sit 15th in the Premier League table.
The Algerian has already scored eight goals and assisted four times in 28 appearances for the Irons this season, setting a high standard for the Croatian to match. Moreover, Jarred Bowen has been in impressive form of late with the goal against Leeds his ninth of the season.
Sunday’s appearance was just the 24-year-old’s fourth start in the Premier League for the Hammers, who has scored once and assisted twice in 19 appearances across all competitions since his move from CSKA Moscow last summer.
Vlasic has plenty to prove after making the decision to return to the English top-flight after a failed stint at Everton. Granted, he was much younger, but the winger made just 19 appearances for the Toffees, scoring twice and assisting once.
His spell in Russia was fruitful, scoring 33 goals and registering 21 assists in 108 appearances for CSKA Moscow; that’s the sort of form Moyes will be keen to see on display as soon as possible.