EPL

David Moyes frustrated as fixture switch leaves West Ham without African stars

By Sports Desk January 02, 2024

David Moyes was frustrated at not being able to pick Mohammed Kudus for West Ham’s goalless draw against Brighton.

Ghana forward Kudus, arguably West Ham’s best player this season, was unavailable due to his forthcoming participation at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Yet Egypt’s Mohamed Salah was able to play for Liverpool against Newcastle 24 hours earlier, scoring twice in a 4-2 win before the deadline for players to link up with their countries.

In a thinly-disguised dig at the Premier League’s schedulers and the decision to move this match for television a day later, Moyes said: “It feels a bit strange that we’re playing on the second of January.

“Could we not have played on the first and allowed our African players to be allowed to play yesterday, because they can’t play today?

“I feel that’s something which isn’t correct. I just think why couldn’t we have our African players the same as everybody else?

“Brighton might have had players at the Asian Games – I know (Kaoru) Mitoma’s injured I think – but they might have the same feeling.

“It’s nothing to do with the performance, Brighton were without lots of good players and we were without lots of good players.

“But I don’t see at this point why you would play a game and be disadvantaged by some of your players not being able to play. I’m not saying any more.”

The decision to move the match for television looked even more baffling as two weary teams fought out a lifeless goalless draw.

Given that it was West Ham’s ninth game in a month, and Brighton’s eighth, the managers would probably have shaken hands on a draw before kick-off and gone to watch the darts instead.

Tomas Soucek stabbed West Ham’s best chance wide but Brighton were the better side after the break, with Hammers keeper Alphonse Areola making fine saves to deny Danny Welbeck and Adam Lallana.

“Overall we’ve had a brilliant Christmas period on the points front,” added Moyes, whose side began the year inside the top six. “I’m thrilled to win three, including Arsenal and Manchester United, and draw one. From a points point of view we’ve done really well.

“It’s the first time this season we’ve looked really jaded and tired tonight but all the boys have done a brilliant job. Brighton have been our bogey club in recent years and we’ve taken four points off them this season. But I want it to be better and I know it has to get better.”

Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi had little doubt what was missing from his side.

“A goal,” was his simple response.

“Today we deserved to win but we played an amazing game, one of the best in my time.

“West Ham are very good in counter-attack and we played a smart game. I can’t say anything about my players because I’m delighted with the performance.

“We have injuries but we have great character and great spirit.”

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    Minnesota United – Hassani Dotson

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    MATCH PREDICTION: SEATTLE SOUNDERS WIN

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    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Seattle Sounders – 41.6%

    Draw – 26.7%

    Minnesota United – 31.8%

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