Said Benrahma makes his point to earn David Moyes some West Ham respite
This season, in particular, the discrepancy between the latter two parties’ apparent opinion of the winger has been a source of great friction, nowhere more obviously than in last weekend’s 4-0 defeat at Brighton, when Benrahma’s half-time substitution prompted the first of a series of dissenting chants from the away end.
Moyes has often, over the years, been frustrated by the Algerian’s mercurial tendencies and perhaps in previous seasons, when his side have been functioning to their fullest, those concerns have been justified.
This term, however, it is little wonder that Benrahma’s usage has become such a cause celebre for supporters disgruntled by a largely abject Premier League campaign, since the 27-year-old is capable of the moments of flair and entertainment that have been lacking in so much of the Hammers’ football. That was the case on Sunday afternoon, as Benrahma shone in a strangely flat 1-1 draw against Aston Villa that lifts Moyes’ side out of the relegation zone on goal-difference.
The former Brentford man’s superb penalty earned a share of the points after another ex-Bee, Ollie Watkins, had put Villa ahead with his sixth goal in seven League games.
Delivering the same kind of consistent end product he managed at Griffin Park has been Benrahma’s biggest challenge since swapping west London for east in 2020 but he now has eight goals and five assist in all competitions for the Irons this term, more goal involvements than any other member of Moyes’s squad.
He might well have added to that tally, twice going close with back-post volleys and then seeing a rasping strike tipped over the bar by Emi Martinez after an exquisite first touch, though the shot was always rising. Late on, he was denied a winner by a superb Ashley Young block.
In the immediate aftermath of that opening, Moyes prepared to send on Maxwel Cornet and the sight of the winger waiting on the touchline must have had Benrahma fearing his afternoon might again be ended prematurely. It was telling of his performance, however, that Danny Ings made way instead.