Monday 01 Nov
Updated Monday 01 Nov 16:40
Opinion

Five things we loved about West Ham United's Premier League win at Aston Villa

Ben Johnson celebrates with the fans

 

1. The Claret and Blue Army

Despite Halloween horrors on the roads and railways, the vast majority of the 3,000-strong Claret and Blue Army made it safely to Villa Park on Sunday.

Traffic was heavy on the M1, M6 and M40 heading from London to Birmingham, making for delays for those supporters who travelled by car and minibus.

But the real issues were on the railways, where a fallen tree on the line near Milton Keynes saw trains services from Euston heavily delayed or cancelled.

No matter, the innovative West Ham fans found alternative routes, with many travelling from Paddington via Reading to New Street.

Once at Villa Park, the supporters made themselves heard from before kick-off to well after the final whistle, roaring their team onto a famous 4-1 Premier League victory.

Along with the usual chants, we also heard a regular chorus of ‘Ben Johnson, he’s one of our own!’ in recognition of the Academy of Football graduate’s early goal and outstanding all-round performance.

 

2. One of our own

After a succession of impressive displays, Ben Johnson was preferred to Vladimir Coufal at right-back, as the Czech Republic star continues his comeback from injury.

The 21-year-old repaid David Moyes’ faith with arguably his best performance in a West Ham United shirt.

Johnson opened the scoring with a superb strike, collecting Declan Rice’s pass wide on the right before cutting inside Matt Targett and curling an accurate left-foot finish past Emiliano Martinez, showing the value of being a two-footed player.

 

Ben Johnson celebrates his goal at Villa Park

 

The celebration which followed was just as memorable, as Johnson recreated a video of himself dancing to Mundian To Bach Ke by Panjabi MC as a schoolboy.

The youngster then produced a fine defensive performance to keep Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey quiet, blocking a shot from the Jamaica international and totalling a team-high eight tackles and three interceptions.

With his versatility, ability and growing confidence, we could be seeing far more of Ben Johnson in the Premier League going forward.

 

3. Declan Rice... again.

Do West Ham United ever play a game these days in which Declan Rice doesn’t produce a performance we loved?

The Hammers captains produced yet another Man of the Match performance capped by an assist for fellow Academy graduate Ben Johnson’s opening goal and a sensational long-range goal to make it 2-1 just before half-time.

 

Declan Rice

 

Those two moments stood out, but Rice was truly outstanding all afternoon at Villa Park, completing 87.2% of his passes, touching the ball a team-high 92 times, winning four tackles, shooting three times and making two key passes.

It was a display that has become typical of our 22-year-old England international.

 

4. Magnificent Manu

Just when it looked like ten-man Aston Villa might score an unlikely equaliser, David Moyes made a substitution that changed the pattern of the game.

Manuel Lanzini’s introduction settled West Ham United down and enabled the visitors to regain control of the game.

The No10 completed all 27 of his passes at Villa Park, including an assist for Jarrod Bowen to complete the scoring six minutes from full-time.

 

Manuel Lanzini is introduced

 

Always available to receive possession, even when surrounded by opposition players, the 28-year-old showed all the experience and composure needed to quieten an increasingly enthusiastic home crowd.

The Argentina international has endured a tough time with injuries in recent years, but this performance showed he is back to somewhere approaching his influential best.

 

5. Records continue to tumble

West Ham United's 4-1 win at Aston Villa made it a Club-record eight away games without defeat.

The Hammers have now won six of their last eight matches on their top-flight travels dating back to April, drawing the other two.

Sunday's three points also took West Ham onto 20 from ten matches - their best tally from their opening ten top-flight games since collecting the equivalent of 21 in 1975/76, when only two points were awarded for a win.

 

 

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