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Mohammed Kudus’ timely intervention spares Kalvin Phillips’ blushes

Kalvin Phillips

At the London Stadium these days, where there is Mohammed Kudus there is hope. West Ham were toiling here before the winger intervened to conjure up an equaliser that never seemed to be coming.

David Moyes had expressed his delight before the game at Ghana’s rapid exit from the Africa Cup of Nations, which allowed his most potent attacking force to return to the side. And, with Bournemouth leading from Dominic Solanke’s early goal, it was his burst into the area that made the difference. Belting forward he was brought down by Lloyd Kelly, a foul which, after the usual pause of VAR verification, allowed James Ward Prowse to equalise from the spot.

There was one man rather relieved as the midfielder’s shot sped straight down the middle of goal. Poor Kalvin Phillips. Ahead of the kick off he had been afforded some reception. According to the matchday programme, in the last season he has won the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League and Fifa Club World Cup. Which is rather generous about his involvement in that particular accumulation of silverware. But the fans cheering his name to the echo before kick off were hoping he might be the new Jesse Lingard, a loan star to ignite their season.

As it turned out, in a haircut which gave him the appearance of wearing Tommy Cooper’s cast off fez, he was more the new Jonathan Woodgate. If not quite as catastrophic as the defender’s first game at Real Madrid it was pretty close. Only three minutes had elapsed when, on the edge of his own area, he attempted a back pass to Alphonse Areola. Instead he presented the ball to Solanke, who duly converted his 13th Premier League goal of the season. Which puts him behind only Mo Salah and Erling Haaland in the rankings.

Not that things improved much for Phillips from there. With England’s Steve Holland watching (well, he hasn’t had much chance to see the player turn out for Manchester City) he then immediately gave the ball away in midfield, producing an anguished roar from the home crowd, then got bypassed by a Bournemouth break, then fouled Alex Scott.

Mind, Bournemouth’s growing control of the match was not solely down to Phillips’s error. Pressing quickly and effectively, strong in defence, smart in midfield, they were superbly marshalled by their manager Andoni Irola. And the chances kept flowing in their direction. Marcos Senesi shot over, Lewis Cook shot wide, Antoine Semenyo had a go after being set free by a delightful invitation of a pass from Solanke, which Areola did brilliantly to save.

Indeed, rather than identifying anything Phillips did, Holland would probably have noted in his report to Gareth Southgate that it really was no surprise both Newcastle and Tottenham looked at Solanke during the transfer window. Full of strength and endeavour, he gave the West Ham defence as hard an evening as they could have had in a while.

Which is why they were so grateful to Kudus for winning the penalty which, frankly, was his team’s only real threat on goal.

Phillips, incidentally, was replaced by Danny Ings with half an hour still to negotiate.

“I said I might need to go a little gently on him, he looks as if he needs the games,” said Moyes, recognising that patience will be required.

Almost entirely anonymous, as he trudged from the pitch there was a splattering of polite applause. Perhaps out of sympathy.

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