As West Ham were desperately searching for a hero in the 94th minute against a struggling Sunderland side who had stood firm in what was, up to that point, an impressive display, few would have expected Winston Reid to be the man to step up. Forget Dimitri Payet, forget Manuel Lanzini, forget Simone Zaza, it was Reid whose composed finish gave his side victory with one of the last touches of the game to top off what had been a top quality defensive display by the New Zealander.
Unusually for a central defender, only three Hammers players had more shots than Reid against Jordan Pickford, with his goal the only one that mattered across the 90 minutes. Unlike his usual tactic of being right in the mixer for a set piece, Reid dropped off and found space to smash the ball through a crowd and into the net from the edge of the box when it came his way.
It was his defensive display which should attract the plaudits though, with his position in the middle of a back three proving to be a real hit since its’ debut last weekend at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace. Reid dealt with Jermain Defoe well, restricting him to shots from distance and dominating him physically. With two interceptions and three blocks, he played as the perfect sweeper tidying up and stopping David Moyes’ team from getting through on goal.
With a pass completion rate of 87.2%, Reid was also instrumental in starting the Irons attack from the back. Reid looked to distribute the ball wide to the two wing-backs and spark counter attacks in a way which had been lacking as the Irons struggled to link up defence with attack in the opening weeks of the season.
Reid was one of those to come under criticism in that poor spell, but with his performance against Sunderland on Saturday, he is clearly showing the kind of form that he produced last season to become a real fans favourite. Now, Reid must continue to build on this display and try to make it two clean sheets in a row for the first time this season when Chelsea visit in midweek in the EFL Cup.
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