West Ham are the real deal as Declan Rice and Ben Johnson lead away day masterclass at Aston Villa

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 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

The clocks may have gone back this weekend, but this West Ham team just keeps moving forward as they once again showed their quality by thumping Aston Villa.

We are now ten games into the new season and the Hammers are fourth in the Premier League, level on points with Manchester City. So much for last season being a flash in the pan.

And all this is taking place with West Ham competing in the Europa League too, which is meant to be the kiss of death for teams’ domestic hopes.

The Hammers, however, are bucking that trend and this win at Villa was a reminder of how they are the real deal.

In the end, West Ham ran out 4-1 winners on Sunday as Ben Johnson, Declan Rice, Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen all got on the scoresheet. The last two of those came in the final ten minutes when West Ham killed the game, but this was always an away day masterclass.

West Ham kept Villa at bay during the first-half and punished them whenever they clicked up a gear. Firstly, Johnson curled one into the bottom corner, and then Rice did likewise from long range.

Ollie Watkins’ goal in between that was the only blot on a fine afternoon’s work for West Ham, which was made easier by Villa going down to ten men early in the second-half as VAR intervened to send Ezri Konsa off.

It felt like the correct call and, while the inevitable Villa fightback stuttered into gear, Moyes’ side never crumbled.

Instead, they weathered the storm before scoring two slick counter-attack goals in the final ten minutes to wrap up the win.

In truth, it was no more than they deserved on an afternoon that highlighted just how formidable West Ham really are right now.

Johnson repays Moyes’ faith

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Given that Vladimir Coufal was back fit, Moyes could have opted to bring the Czech Republic international back into the starting XI.

Instead, however, Moyes kept faith with Johnson, who has performed well and stepped up to the plate in the absence of Coufal. Johnson repaid his manager’s faith with a fine performance, which was capped off by him opening the scoring.

The academy graduate took his goal well too, cutting in from the right and curling the ball into the bottom corner with his wrong foot.

Defensively, Johnson was solid too and he kept Villa winger Leon Bailey quiet for the majority of the match.

Coufal will surely over time come back into the side, but on this evidence Johnson is going to put up a fight and Moyes has full faith in the 21-year-old.

Rice shines once again

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

What more can we say about Rice? Every week he just seems to get better and better.

He was at the heart of this win at Villa and that should come as no surprise to anyone who has been watching West Ham this season.

Rice’s performances have gone up another level since Euro 2020 and he seems to be relishing leading this club as captain.

At present, there are few midfielders in the Premier League who can compete with the England international and he is the foundation of this impressive West Ham team.

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