Analysis: Andriy Yarmolenko is showing his class
Andriy Yarmolenko’s outstanding recent contributions should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the Ukrainian’s career.
Make no mistake about it, the No7 is a top, top player.
This is a man who has 81 international caps and 36 goals for his country – second only to the great Andriy Shevchenko – and has appeared at two UEFA European Championship finals.
This is a man who won seven trophies during a glittering decade with Dynamo Kyiv, and who has been named Ukrainian Footballer of the Year on four occasions.
This is a man whose left foot is among the deadliest in world football, as West Ham United supporters – and those of their opponents – are belatedly discovering.
The signings of Sebastien Haller and Pablo Fornals perhaps overshadowed the 29-year-old’s return to action after nine months out with an Achilles injury this summer, but no player has added more to the Hammers’ attack in their opening seven Premier League matches than Yarmolenko himself.
We saw glimpses of Yarmolenko’s unique skillset in his early appearances in Claret and Blue, most notably when he scored twice in a vital 3-1 win at Everton which kickstarted Manuel Pellegrini’s reign, and again when his shot deflected in off Victor Lindelof in the 3-1 victory over Manchester United at London Stadium.
The serious injury he suffered while playing against Tottenham Hotspur in October 2018 set him back, but the early signs are that it has not affected his ability to perform at the highest level.
Playing wide on the right flank, Yarmolenko’s strength on his left side means he is more comfortable cutting inside and either shooting or crossing. Defenders might be able to predict what he is going to do, but they seem largely unable to do anything about it!
In addition, Yarmolenko's propensity to go infield creates space for the lightning-quick Ryan Fredericks to overlap into the space vacated by the No7's full-back.
At AFC Bournemouth on Saturday, he showcased his talents repeatedly, playing a direct role in both of West Ham’s goals in a thrilling 2-2 draw.
First, he collected Sebastien Haller’s pass inside the penalty area, pinned Nathan Ake and curled the ball unerringly into the far corner of Aaron Ramsdale’s net.
Then, after bending another low shot inches wide and seeing Felipe Anderson head his far-post cross too close to Ramsdale, Yarmolenko provided another fine deep cross. The Brazilian headed the ball back into Aaron Cresswell’s path and the left-back gleefully converted his second goal in successive Premier League matches.
In six Premier League appearances this season, including five starts, Yarmolenko has three goals and won the Man of the Match awards in each of West Ham’s last two top-flight matches.
The reaction of his teammates and the backroom staff following his emotional strike in the home win over Norwich City showed how popular the ever-smiling winger is inside the Club, and his performances mean the feeling is likewise in the stands.
Andriy Yarmolenko is fit, in form and getting back to his best.
When he gets there, Premier League defenders should be very worried indeed.