Exclusive Pablo Fornals: West Ham midfielder on style evolution this season, slow start to season and being a first-time dad | Soccer News

Not too long ago, David Moyes climbed the list of favorites as the next Premier League manager to be sacked. Could two years of hard work, a Europa League semi-final and consecutive top-seven finishes be undone in a matter of weeks?

No, it turns out. The Hammers have since worked their way into the top 10 with a comfortable 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Monday night, their fifth straight win at home. They have won three of their last five league matches, following one of their previous seven.

Something has started to click at the London Stadium with smiles on previously gloomy faces and an expensive summer of spending which is now starting to pay off. There are signs of development around east London, where the Hammers have outperformed to reach those back-to-back finishes in European places.

The aim is to stay there, but seven games into the new season and with one win under their belt West Ham looked more likely to sack David Moyes than reach the top seven again. Yes, the three wins since are coming against teams they would normally expect to beat, at Wolves, Fulham and Bournemouth, but the style that Moyes is looking to build has also started to show.

Sunday, October 30, 3:00 p.m.


Kick off 4:15 p.m.

The manager has built much of his success since returning around the raw attributes of Michail Antonio, the physical strength of Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek in midfield and ultimately West Ham’s ability to transition fast at the break. But things change with the arrival of record holder Lucas Paqueta, a player more comfortable with the ball than running, and even former Swansea midfielder Flynn Downes, who started in the hole for the last Monday victory.

Against Southampton earlier this month West Ham had 61% of the ball, against in-form Bournemouth 55% and even 46% at Anfield last week – only Manchester City have had more possession against Liverpool this season. This is not the West Ham of old, says Pablo Fornals, a man who has been there throughout their rise from relegation contenders to European semi-finalists.

“I don’t think we’re playing like before,” he said. sky sports. “Our football has improved a lot, our players are doing very well and it’s not like West Ham who used to run a lot and be fine without the ball, we have stepped up and shown we can also have the ball. We see a lot more ball than in the past.

“I really liked the way we played before, but it’s a bit different, I think it has to do with the players we’ve signed, they have a lot of quality and maybe we just need to evolve towards a better team with them here.

“Everyone had to settle in at the start of the season, there were the new players, the new style, a lot of little things that kept us from winning games and playing as well as we should.”

The Hammers’ bigger game plan is linked to a recovery in shot conversion – which before the win over Bournemouth was third worst in the league at just 6.1%, less than half that of the last season. While confidence has slowly returned to the team, their performances, results and now ability to find the back of the net have unsurprisingly improved in sync.

Fornals is the man who scored his first goal of the season – which only came in his fourth game – with a deflected long-range strike to beat Aston Villa. It was one of only three goals in their first seven games, but with chances created, but not completed, confidence remained in the Hammers’ side.

He said: “We always try to work to score goals, it’s every striker’s desire to score goals for the team, but sometimes the ball doesn’t want to go into the net.

“Other times I was lucky enough to score the first goal of the season, he deflected and went in so you never know how it’s going to go. But the harder we try, the more chances we’ll have and it’s “That’s the important thing. We did a lot against Bournemouth, and we have to keep it that way.”

Fornals was substituted in eight of his nine league starts this season, trailing only Bryan Mbeumo and Adam Armstrong across the top flight, before finding himself left out of the starting line-up completely against Bournemouth. Few players have shown such a positive work-rate and attitude since arriving at the London Stadium in 2019, but as the Hammers seek to establish themselves in European places competition has inevitably intensified.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from West Ham’s win over Bournemouth, taking them to the top half of the table for the first time this season

Any disappointment felt by the Spain international is swallowed up when he returns home, with the addition of an eldest son to his young family last November – and as any new parent will attest, it has changed his perspective.

“It changed my life a lot, as you would expect,” he said. “It’s nice to come home and see someone waiting for you with a smile, and it makes me realize that football, of course, is important, but now you have someone who was made by you and your wife, and your family is what really matters most.

“It was all difficult, it was all new to me! But it was a wonderful process to have this new little person who needs you so much, and you can’t even imagine how much you need them too. He hasn’t come to see us play yet, but he will.”

West Ham take on Manchester United on great sunday this weekend, and although the Hammers face a tough task at Old Trafford against a side in such good form at home, their own form and performance at Anfield has sparked an air of conviction.

“We have to be the same as at Liverpool, we were very good in this game,” Fornals said. “Probably better in the second half than in the first, but we challenged them and created chances.

“We are also going there to challenge Manchester United. We did it against Tottenham and got a draw, we did it against Chelsea and we should have gotten a draw, we will try to beat everyone.

“I try to watch as many games as possible, which is not so easy now that I have a baby, but I know they are doing very well and also creating their own style – but we want to be there. where they are right now, and facing them will help that.”

Watch Man Utd vs. West Ham live Sky Sports Premier League Sunday from 4 p.m.; kick off at 4:15 p.m.

About Hannah Schaeffer

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