Declan Rice scored a superb long-range goal as West Ham United ran rampant in a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday, piling pressure on Dean Smith.
West Ham made it four wins from five Premier League games on the road with a comprehensive 4-1 win over 10-man Aston Villa. After defeating Dean Smith’s side in their own backyard, the Hammers are now unbeaten in their previous eight top-flight games dating back to the end of last season, a record in 35 years.
The visitors’ opener came from an unlikely source in the seventh minute when full-back Ben Johnson collected Declan Rice’s pinpoint pass before cutting inside to his weaker side and striking a stunning left-footed drive into the far corner past Emiliano Martinez.
Jarrod Bowen nearly doubled the advantage moments later from a quick counter-attack, but Matty Cash somehow blocked the shot before Villa clawed their way back into the game thanks to Ollie Watkins’ first-time finish following a reverse ball from Cash.
West Ham maintained their pressure and regained their lead just before halftime through Rice’s powerful drive from 25 yards. The home side’s chances of a comeback were dashed almost immediately after the restart when Ezri Konsa was sent off for tripping Bowen, who was through on goal.
Despite being a man down, Villa showed endeavour and rallied to create a couple of half-chances but that left them very open at the back, vulnerable to quick counter-attacks. And the Hammers duly punished them, with Pablo Fornals and Bowen each finishing off slick counter-attacking moves to seal all three points for the east London outfit.
The result means West Ham are now fourth in the league table with 20 points – level on points to reigning champions Manchester City but behind on goal difference – after ten games while Villa are three points clear of the relegation zone in 15th. Here are our player ratings from what proved to be a rather comfortable win for the Hammers.
Emiliano Martinez: 5/10
Not a lot the Aston Villa goalie could have done to stop any of the goals on the evening, but conceding four goals does not make for good reading. He made one very good save in the first half.
Matty Cash: 7/10
Cash was arguably Villa’s best player on the pitch and pushed forward at every opportunity to cause problems for the Hammers. He sent a shot wide off the post and headed clear Bowen’s goal-bound effort.
Ezri Konsa: 4/10
Konsa marshalled Michail Antonio admirably alongside Kortney Hause in the first half, but he was sent off five minutes into the second half for tugging Bowen back with the Hammers winger clear on goal. Villa could be in for real trouble with Konsa now out for three games Southampton, Brighton and Crystal Palace.
Kortney Hause: 6/10
On his return to the starting XI, he dealt effectively with the dominant Antonio for the first 45 minutes. Hause was strong and muscular but lacked composure on the ball as he was not able to spray long balls for Watkins and Bailey. He got lucky when he smacked Fornals in the face with his elbow; instead, his defensive partner Konsa was red-carded after a VAR check. Could not deal with Antonio, leading to Bowen scoring the fourth goal.
Matt Targett: 4/10
Targett was too passive and did not close down Ben Johnson fast enough for the first goal. He was decent going forward but looked vulnerable playing in a back-four.
Marvelous Nakamba: 6/10
Making his first Premier League start since the opening day defeat to Watford, he sneaked the ball from the opposition players a couple of times, showed fight when he stormed into challenges. He tried to energise the fans, but Villa were soundly defeated by the time. He recorded a team-high five tackles on the day.
John McGinn: 6/10
The stand-in skipper had a shaky start, but he soon found his strides and was definitely up for the fight against the Hammers’ dominant midfield. He was one of the better ones among an average set of players on the day. McGinn headed a decent opportunity wide, and he blasted a few low efforts wide of Fabianski’s goal.
Jacob Ramsey: N/A
He twisted his ankle after only 15 minutes and had to hobble off. He did not influence the proceedings much during his time on the pitch.
Emiliano Buendia: 5/10
The Argentine was brilliant in flashes with his turns and darting runs. He registered a beautiful assist for Watkins’ goal, forcing his way past Fornals. He was sacrificed following Konsa’s sending off and headed straight down the tunnel in anger. He also delivered a beautiful cross as Watkins hit the crossbar, but he has had better games than this.
Ollie Watkins: 6.5/10
Watkins led the line and looked comfortable without Danny Ings alongside him. Back among the goals, he cleverly forced Fabianski to make a mistake. The Englishman also hit the crossbar with a well-placed header from McGinn’s cross that Fabianski saved with a fingertip stop.
Leon Bailey: 6/10
Bailey was handed his first Premier League start of the campaign and looked a little rusty. The £30 million signing was lacking that final pass. He displayed nimble footwork and fizzed past a couple of West Ham shirts early in the game, but those moments were few and far between up against Ben Johnson. He was subsequently subbed off with 20 minutes left.
Ashley Young: 5/10
A bustling performance after replacing an injured Jacob Ramsey, but with little quality passing. He was quite adaptive and covered several positions to add balance after Villa were down to ten men.
Tyrone Mings: 6/10
Mings had a point to prove after being dropped to the bench after last Friday’s humbling defeat at Arsenal. He was called upon following Konsa’s sending off and tried to keep the solidity but could not stop West Ham’s attacks.
Anwar El Ghazi: 5/10
El Ghazi was barely involved and had only 14 touches as West Ham dominated the last phase of the game.
West Ham United
Lukasz Fabianski: 7/10
Fabianski did not have much to do between the sticks as Aston Villa rarely threatened the goal after going down to ten men. Although he may have felt he could have done better to prevent Watkins’ goal, he made a wonderful fingertip save to retain West Ham’s lead in the first half.
Ben Johnson: 9/10
Ben Johnson’s game by numbers vs. Aston Villa:
100% tackle success
8 tackles made (most)
6 ball recoveries
4 interceptions (most)
1 goal scored
Pure class. 👏 pic.twitter.com/1K9rM23ikm
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 31, 2021
A superb lively performance from the West Ham academy graduate, who started ahead of Vladimir Coufal. He scored a fantastic goal with his weaker foot and was once again impressive in all departments. He was very sound defensively.
Angelo Ogbonna: 7/10
Ogbonna’s vocal presence and ability to organise a well-drilled defence is understated. Keeping his terrible back-pass aside, he performed admirably. The Hammers veteran put up another solid performance at the back, keeping Issa Diop and Craig Dawson on the bench.
Kurt Zouma: 7/10
Zouma was dominant in the air and was simply too powerful to face Villa’s feeble attacks. He was composed and measured his passes very well. He has developed a quite formidable partnership alongside Angelo Ogbonna. He is proving worth every penny spent for West Ham.
Aaron Cresswell: 7/10
Cresswell often surged forward in the first half and combined well with Said Benrahma on the overlap, providing West Ham with a solid foothold on the left-flank. He was reliable as ever defensively.
Declan Rice: 9/10
After 10 games, Declan Rice is the only player in the Premier League this season with:
◉ 10+ clearances
◉ 10+ tackles made
◉ 10+ interceptions
◉ 10+ aerial duels won
◉ 10+ chances created
◉ 10+ take-ons completed
◉ 10+ touches in the opp. box
The complete midfielder. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/CAQDlpVE6Q
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 31, 2021
The Hammers’ skipper was easily the best player on the field once again. Everything positive went through Rice, and he even scored a spectacular long-range goal to restore the lead and also bagged an assist to add to his tally. He was vital in Johnson’s opener clipping a wonderful pass after getting past two Villa players. Moyes’ demanded a more attacking threat from his commander-in-chief, and he is producing just that. A complete all-action midfield performance.
Tomas Soucek: 6.5/10
Soucek put in another strong performance after his much-improved display against Spurs. His energy levels looked to have been replenished, along with his aerial supremacy which helped the Hammers take charge of the midfield. He protected the backline very well, but his final pass and attacking output were lacking on the day.
Said Benrahma: 6/10
Benrahma was wasteful in his dribbling and did not offer much width on the left flank as Matty Cash handled him well. He slowly faded out of the game and was eventually subbed off by Moyes.
Pablo Fornals: 7/10
Fornals was deployed as the No.10 instead of his normal position out wide and he was effective in possession, creating many quality chances. Bagged himself a simple goal after a lung-busting sprint to stay up with Bowen. However, he was undone by Buendia in the build-up to Watkins’ goal. His work rate was again supreme.
Jarrod Bowen: 8/10
Bowen gave Targett an unpleasant afternoon and was quite good with his deft movement and link-up play. He looked incredibly dangerous when driving at Villa’s defence on counters. On many instances, he assisted Johnson in defence, although he drew the wrath of his boss with a couple of sloppy clearances. His efforts were well-rewarded with a goal.
Michail Antonio: 7.5/10
Antonio enjoyed the physical battle against Villa defenders and made a nuisance of himself. He held the ball up before flicking it into the path of the on-rushing Bowen to set up the third goal. Despite no shots on goal, this was a solid, dedicated performance.
Manuel Lanzini: 7/10
Lanzini looked very sharp after coming on as a substitute on the hour mark, he was quite selfless in squaring the ball for Bowen for the fourth goal and made a real impact overall.
Vladimir Coufal: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Nikola Vlasic: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.