Match Report: West Ham 1, Aston Villa 0
Goals: Nolan, 40 (Vaz Te, assist)
Shots: West Ham – 7 (1 on target); Aston Villa 13 (2)
Possession: West Ham – 34 %; Aston Villa – 66 %
The first match in the Paul Lambert era at Aston Villa and the first back in the Premiership for West Ham ends up being a pretty dull affair, with West Ham grabbing the three points thanks to a Kevin Nolan goal that was initially flagged for offsides. Aside from that goal, neither team really threatened to score. It was a bit of a weird alternate universe thing for Villa fans, who are usually accustomed to defending and looking for occasional counterattacking opportunities, but this time had the lion’s share of possession but couldn’t break down a well-organized West Ham defense. It remains to be seen whether Villa will be more of an attacking force against teams that play more open, expansive football, but on the evidence of this, they won’t unless the bring in a few more players.
Shay Given, GK – 6; Didn’t have much to do except for the one goal, which wasn’t his fault
Nathan Baker, D – 6; Defended reasonably well, but didn’t offer any width at all in attack
Ron Vlaar, D – 8; Solid at the back. Even got a cut and bled everywhere, which is always a good sign for your central defender
Ciaran Clark, D – 7; Occasionally shaky, but didn’t do anything that led to a goal, which is good enough
Matt Lowton, D – 6; Showed less of the willingness to get forward than he did in preseason matches
Karim El-Ahmadi, M – 7; Combined well with Stephen Ireland, particularly in the first half, but had a few bad giveaways as well
Fabian Delph, M – 6.5; Looked a bit nervous initially, but had a couple uncharacteristic runs into the attacking half, which is a hopeful sign
Stephen Ireland, M – 7; Probably the most forward-thinking Villa player, but none of his through balls or shots came to anything
Charles N’Zogbia, M – 5.5; Another disappointing performance from N’Zogbia; you have to wonder how much longer he will start when he plays like this
Brett Holman, M – 5; Runs around a lot; unfortunately, looked more tentative than he had in preseason and put in a couple woeful crosses. Must be better.
Darren Bent, F – 6; Never got the ball, so it’s hard to give him a rating. Had one shot which was blocked. Needs better service. Same old story
Andreas Weimann, SUB – 6; Didn’t get the ball enough to do anything
Gary Gardner, SUB – 5.5; Didn’t impress when he had the ball
Barry Bannan, SUB – 6; Didn’t do much with the ball after coming on as a sub
Grade: C-. Opening day matches are always iffy – particularly in away games – but on the basis of this performance, Lambert has a lot to do to turn this team around, injuries or no. They passed the ball around well, but didn’t seem to have any idea what to do when West Ham was defending. Baker was fine defensively at left back, saving a certain goal late on, but offered nothing supporting the attack. N’Zogbia and Holman ran around a lot but offered zero penetration. Must be better.