The Hammers were hammered in their opening encounter of the 2019/20 Premier League season but there was a bright spark on a gloomy day – Sebastien Haller.
West Ham hosted Manchester City and the visitors continued their exceptional form in east London, putting five past Lukasz Fabianski and taking the aggregate score to 22-1 at London Stadium.
However, the Irons’ club-record signing Haller demonstrated his qualities he can bring to Manuel Pellegrini’s side and it certainly got the fans excited for what he can produce this season.
So how did the 25-year-old perform in what is the most difficult fixture of the season?
The Hammers opted for a 4-1-4-1 formation with Haller at the top of the tree. His physical presence was vastly noticeable and he exemplified the typical centre-forward posture that has been absent from east London for some time. Overall, he achieved the highest rating of any West Ham player (6.57) and that was boosted by an excellent first-half display.
The France striker battled hard against John Stones and Aymeric Laporte over the course of 90 minutes and in the early exchanges, was getting the better of them. West Ham as a unit were pressing high, playing with impetuous and overall, were the better team in the opening 20 minutes of play.
This suited Haller and his play-style as he was provided with support from the midfield and there were options around him to provide a platform for the centre-forward to exhibit his excellent link-up play.
Haller achieved an 88.6% pass success rate, the third highest among the squad behind Javier Hernandez – who only participated for 25 minutes and completed seven passes – and Declan Rice.
In the first half alone, Haller attempted 18 passes and achieved a 100% success rate. He regularly held the ball up when isolated and waited for support from the midfield to arrive – City’s defence simply had no answer for him. However, as the game progressed, the Hammers failed to support Haller and he became further isolated and it was apparent, even from the stands.
Sebastien Haller completed 100% of his passes in the first half
Held the ball up well for West Ham
— Premier League Statman (@EPLStatman) August 10, 2019
However, his offensive capabilities were not the only thing to impress at London Stadium – his defensive contributions were equally as awe-inspiring. Haller’s hard-work and commitment was blatantly visible to see and the stats proved it.
Over the course of 90 minutes, Haller completed four tackles – a joint high with midfielder Rice – a player notoriously known for his tackling qualities. Also, Haller completed three interceptions – the highest in the team – and his reading of the game was world-class.
It is clear to see that with time and against opposition where West Ham will dictate and control the tempo of the game – which will be most cases – Haller will thrive. The Hammers possess an abundance of attacking quality and as time progresses, the claret and blue faithful are going to see the best of the France centre-forward.