West Ham youngster Ben Johnson was one silver lining for David Moyes as his side were defeated at a wintery and snow-hit Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Pep Guardiola now has ten wins in 11 top-flight matches over the Irons after Manchester City ran away 2-1 victors thanks to goals from midfield duo Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho. Hammers midfielder Manuel Lanzini came off the bench to seal an injury-time consolation goal but it wasn’t enough to salvage anything for the visitors in the most difficult of conditions.
It was another Premier League game in which Declan Rice excelled in the heart of the pitch, registering the most touches and accurate passes of West Ham’s visiting cast, but this level of performance is now expected for the England regular.
Instead, the spotlight deserves to be on 20-year-old right-back Ben Johnson, who for large spells of the game marshalled Rice’s international colleague Raheem Sterling to great effect.
The Evening Standard’s Jack Rosser was equally impressed, mentioning a similar observation in his post-match ratings column, where Johnson was amongst his best performers.
‘Very good up against Raheem Sterling on the right of the back four and made a superb block on the line to deny Jesus,’ he wrote.
Indeed, only Rice (57) had more touches off the ball for West Ham than the impressive academy graduate (53), which suggests that he wasn’t afraid to assert some sort of authority against such a high-quality side as City.
That was also backed up by the fact that he lost possession 18 times, the most of any Hammers player – at the very least he was trying to influence the game, unlike some of his teammates.
Furthermore, the 5 foot 9 wing-back did his defensive dues, recording two clearances, including one desperate one off the line, as well as two blocks and he even recorded one key pass, per SofaScore.
It’s no wonder Moyes has lauded the emerging prospect a “really important player” for the club – clearly that’s the case, as he has usurped usual reliable stalwart Vladimir Coufal in the role.
Johnson was certainly one of the few positives for the Irons from Sunday’s disappointing defeat to the Premier League champions.
AND in other news, ExWHUemployee: West Ham are interested in this Bundesliga goal-machine…