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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Malik Ouzia

Slapstick West Ham defending leaves David Moyes with a surprise new problem

It seems doubtful that players such as Nayef Aguerd and Konstantinos Mavropanos will have grasped David Moyes's 'Keystone Cops' reference, so for good measure the West Ham manager spoke of his fury in plain terms, too.

"We've not dealt with things which as a player I would have been disgusted with myself for not being able to deal with," the Scot fumed, having watched his side gift Brentford's misfiring forward Neal Maupay a first goal in 14 months, then leak twice more to slump to a 3-2 defeat, despite having fought back to lead at half-time on Saturday.

It was Maupay's opener that Moyes likened to slapstick farce. Aguerd and Tomas Soucek challenged for the same ball without a home player in sight, Emerson chose to mark the byline rather than an opponent, Said Benrahma had the popcorn out, whistling a tune as the ball broke to Frank Onyenka, before Maupay bundled in unmarked from five yards.

In truth, though, goals two and three were if not quite so comical then just as straightforward concessions, both from deliveries wide on the right in which a two-on-one and simple lay-off had afforded the crosser all manner of time and space.

Mavropanos headed the first of them into his own net under pressure from Nathan Collins, before the Irishman powered the second home himself. "We weren't talking about anything weird and wonderful," said Moyes.

West Ham were missing their best defender in captain Kurt Zouma and their only specialist holding midfielder in the suspended Edson Alvarez, but a defensive malaise appears to have set in. It is now seven matches in all competitions without a clean sheet for the Hammers.

Aguerd's form, in particular, is becoming a major concern and with Zouma injury-prone, Mavropanos unproven and Angelo Ogbonna aging, centre-back suddenly looks like a surprise problem position.

Ironic in a way, since he has hardly been short of his own comic comparisons, but the summer's failed move for Harry Maguire is beginning to look more costly than most imagined at the time.

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