The Sky Sports pundit heaped praise on the Hammers trio, with her even claiming that Yarmolenko being fit again was a huge boost for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, before remarking on the club’s top-six hopes.
Smith backed the Hammers to be in the mix for the battle to finish in the top-six as she pointed out that she thought they had a good squad.
“I do think top-six has to be their aim, Yarmolenko back fit is a huge boost as he was excellent against yesterday,” said Smith on Football Centre (Sky Sports News, 11:19am, Monday, September 23rd).
“I thought Rice and Noble were brilliant in midfield.
“We talk about Noble being so experienced… but he commanded that midfield, getting on the ball making things happen.
“They’ve got a good squad, so I think that’s gotta be that aim.”
It’s no surprise that Smith had kind words to say about Yarmolenko, Noble and Rice as the trio all did their part to achieve a memorable win over Manchester United. Yarmolenko was an attacking threat for the Hammers as not only did he get on the scoresheet, but he made one key pass and worked the keeper three times by being accurate with his shots (Source: WhoScored). Whereas Noble and Rice, while at times surged forward, ensured the Hammers were solid by controlling the tempo of the game. Rice completed 97.1% of his passes against Man United and played an impressive five accurate long balls forward in order to set the Hammers on the attack (Source: WhoScored). Noble made one key pass and you can tell he was a thorn in Man United’s side as he was fouled three times, as per WhoScored, which was more than any other Hammers player. You feel Man United kept fouling Noble as they weren’t sure how to stop him having an influence on the game. As for Smith’s top-six remarks, based on the Hammers’ start to the season and their squad, it does seem realistic that the Hammers dream big this season.