Ben Johnson able to reflect on stunning West Ham rise bookended by international breaks

Going into October’s international break, the academy graduate was the third choice in his natural position as a right back. Since West Ham came back from that break with a win in Everton, Johnson has started all but one game in all competitions, scored his first goal of the season in Aston Villa, and possibly usurped Vladimir coufal What David moyes‘ first option.

Coufal, who has been one of the first names on the team roster and one of Moyes’s most trusted charges since his arrival from Slavia Prague this time last year, has returned from a groin injury with a real fight in his wake. hands.

There was some surprise, even for those close to Johnson, that he retained his place against a Liverpool side that had scored 22 goals in their previous six away games. losing at the London stadium on Sunday. Moyes’s faith in the defender was firmly rewarded.

The West Ham manager gave Johnson a clear mandate against the Reds, telling him to take control of the defensive right side and make sure Liverpool could not exercise their usual dominance on their flanks. The 21-year-old left the court shattered but successfully, making the most punts of any player on the court.

No West Ham player made more interceptions, while the youngster also had the most touches of all in claret and blue. That performance followed similar outings against Tottenham and Manchester City last month.

Johnson has had to fight for a real opportunity in his natural position. Coufal’s form has been excellent, while Ryan Fredericks also offers extensive competition. More often than not, the youngster has been sent off by the left side of defense when given the opportunity and is still impressed, although Moyes sees his future as a right-back.

However, playing the opposite side is a challenge Johnson loves and his skill with both feet was evidenced in his superb opening goal at Villa Park, cutting from the right and shooting low into the far corner. It has also been clear from a very young age. Johnson once stole the show in an under-14 encounter with Manchester United, scoring two good volleys, one with his stronger right foot and then his left.

From that early age, Johnson has approached each and every game with a similar mindset and is beginning to pay dividends.

“My way of thinking is that it is a football game and I have been playing from the age of four until now,” he said before Liverpool. “This is the platform that I have been working on, so if I have the opportunity, I will seize the moment.”

REUTERS

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