By Gursimran Hans
In a much more entertaining encounter to Friday’s first leg, Werder Bremen held The Hammers to a 2-2 draw thus lifting the Betway Cup with a 3-2 aggregate win.
The game was noticeable for some devastating link up play between Arthur Masuaku and Marko Arnautovic down the left-hand side.
West Ham added a lot more bite to the first leg and enjoyed the opening stages, however, it was Werder Bremen who took the lead with Luca Caldirola, heading home after a free-kick.
The Hammers were level within 10 minutes, as former Bremen man Arnautovic flicked in Masuaku’s cross. Andre Ayew would have an injury scare late on, taking a blow to his shoulder but was able to carry on.
West Ham continued the second half in the same ilk, debutant Joe Hart had little to do. Edimilson Fernandes hit the inside of the post and failed to connect after being played in by Arnautovic.
Fernandes and Cullen both gave majestic performances. Cullen is much like Noble in that he finds movement in front of him with some really good passing, the difference is that he’s faster.
A heavy tackle by West Brom loanee Yuning Zhang on Pablo Zabaleta lead to a bit of brawl by the two sides, with Robert Snodgrass passionately sticking up for his Argentine teammate.
Snodgrass, however, was underwhelming with his delivery and movement and still needs to improve to match his performances for Hull City and his first few games for the club.
Declan Rice was won of eight substitutes and played an anchor man role, could he perhaps be the answer to the Hammer’s defensive midfield problem?
He certainly made some interceptions and looked ahead of his 18 years.
A left-wing cross from Andre Ayew was headed home by Toni Martinez in a clinical fashion to take the team into the lead.
Zhang, however, popped up again, the young Chinese striker stroked a low cross just past Hart.
The Hammers could’ve nicked the game late on, but Aaron Cresswell’s cross hit Martinez on the back and didn’t quite fall for anyone.
This performance had a lot more positives than the other pre-season matches so far. The young players look class and professional. The play from Masuaku and Arnautovic was just phenomenal, reminiscent of Cresswell and Payet’s marauding runs in 2015-16. With Antonio, Lanzini, Hernandez, and Carroll all set to come in, the side’s forward play could be quite something. A great combination of pace and power that could steam roll teams, like the Romario and Ronaldo partnership of old.
Werder Bremen – Pavlenka, Caldirola. Bauer, Augustinnson, Delaney, Kainz, Zhang, Bartels, Sainz, M. Eggestein.
Goalscorers – Luca Caldirola ’16, Yuning Zhang ’81.
West Ham United – Hart, Zabaleta (Burke’ 61), Ogbonna (Collins ’61), Masuaku (Cresswell ’61), Fonte (Byram ’61), Obiang (c) (Rice ’61), Cullen (Makasi ’61), Fernandes (Martinez ’61), Snodgrass (Holland ’61), Arnautovic, Ayew.
Unused Sub – Adrian.
Goalscorers – Marko Arnautovic ’25, Toni Martinez ’75.