West Ham new boy shines as Bilic sticks to same formation
PUBLISHED: 17:30 24 October 2016
PA Wire/PA Images
Edimilson Fernandes excelled as left wing-back for the Hammers as they pipped Sunderland 1-0 on Saturday
When Aaron Cresswell was sent off last week and suspended for Saturday’s clash with Sunderland there were some that said that manager Slaven Bilic could not play the wing-back formation that had done so well at Crystal Palace.
There was talk about Sofiane Feghouli coming in, or of Bilic reverting to four at the back, but in the end the final team selection came out of left field – literally!
And it was youngster Edimilson Fernandes who came in for his first Premier League start, playing at left wing-back and it proved to be an inspired selection as the young Swiss put in an excellent performance.
He looked fearless as he made his way down the left into attacking positions and had a couple of useful shots as well as delivering some decent crosses.
Defender Winston Reid certainly had praise for the 20-year-old midfielder.
“He has done really well, coming from nowhere really,” said the New Zealander. “He has got a good work ethic, good legs and reminds me a bit of a smaller version of ‘Check’ (Kouyate).
“He did really well in this game, it was a tough position at wing back because you have to go forward, but you have be good going the other way too.”
He was certainly one of the highlights of a game that looked like ending in frustration.
West Ham dominated the first 30 minutes and had chances, but when they failed to take them, there was an overwhelming fear that Sunderland could have nicked a goal.
They almost did when Wahbi Khazri was put clean through, only for Adrian to save, but in truth the game could have gone either way in the second half.
“I thought the first half hour was the best football we have played for a long time,” said Bilic. “We were passing the ball well and were winning the second balls.
“We had enough chances to be two up, but we couldn’t score a goal.” The Black Cats had their moments, but as the game moved into the last few minutes, Bilic had gone with two up front – some would say at long last – and it finally paid off.
“The last 15 minutes we pushed more and changed the system by adding another striker in there,” said Bilic.
“We managed to score in the very last minute and nobody can say after the game that we didn’t deserve to win.
Maybe, but this was still far from convincing by the Hammers and you would fear for their chances against a rampant Chelsea tonight (Wednesday).
“We now want to build on this of course,” added Bilic. “We are looking much better now offensively and defensively.
They are, but there is still more work to be done.
Many of the new signings have failed to impress so far this season, but you cannot say that about the impressive Fernandes, who surely deserved to feature much more during the current campaign.