West Ham United’s defence is becoming a bigger headache for Manuel Pellegrini every week.
After being dismantled 5-0 by Manchester City in their Premier League opener, the Chilean decided to make a couple of changes to his defence for the Brighton game – with Angelo Ogbonna and Arthur Masuaku coming in.
That meant Aaron Cresswell was not involved, whereas Fabian Balbuena could only manage a place on the Hammers’ bench.
Claret and Hugh revealed that the Paraguayan was fully fit for the clash, but Pellegrini supposedly wanted more flexibility in his backline than what was on show the week before.
That only highlights the problem starting to arise at the London Stadium, with flexibility appearing as a strange excuse to make a change in the heart of the defence.
Conceding six goals was not on the top of anyone’s wishlist to start the season, and even the introduction of Masuaku didn’t help, as fans slammed the left-back for his performance on Saturday.
With both Masuaku and Cresswell failing to impress in their first games of the season, the door is surely opening for youngster Ben Johnson to step in and take his chance.
Johnson featured heavily in pre-season and was expected to be involved in Pellegrini’s plans this season – something that hasn’t materialised as of yet.
The 19-year-old was solid in games against Man City and Fulham in pre-season friendlies, but most likely lost his chance when struggling against Hertha Berlin.
When trying to settle into Pellegrini’s system, Johnson was caught out of position many times trying to act as an attacking option – something that isn’t needed at this time at the Hammers.
Should the youngster get a chance, he must sit back and nail down his defensive responsibilities first – something that will give him the best chance of succeeding.
With Masuaku and Cresswell being slated by fans in back-to-back games, the door is surely opening for Johnson to make his mark on the first-team.