The overall class performance of 2022/23 has been strange to say the least. A turbulent league season has seen some under-par team efforts and plenty of poor individual work.
But the class also rolled its socks up and got on with some solid homework, as they became the most successful year in decades, lifting a coveted European trophy. Again, expectations were high for the group, but how did each pupil earn their stripes this term?
Lukasz Fabianski: Lukasz had a shaky year this year and there were a few times we were left feeling frustrated with his lack of consistency. A few points were lost due to errors, including a rather big boo-boo at Newcastle. He did have some positives though – he’s in the top four in the league for saves made, he saved a penalty and kept eight clean sheets. His celebrations in Europe showed how much a team player he is, and we hope to see more of that side of Fab next term.
Alphonse Areola: Alphonse featured in all Conference League fixtures and pulled off some stunning saves to see the trophy coming to east London. In the competition, he kept six clean sheets in 13 games and let in eight goals, making a really valuable contribution to the victory. His teamwork and work rate are impressive and he’s a great asset to the class.
Aaron Cresswell: Aaron’s disciplinary record improved this year, we’re glad to see. Despite not scoring any goals, he has put in some trademark cracking crosses, assisting twice in Europe and once in the league. He would have benefited more from the whole class having a successful league term, but it wasn’t to be. However, Aaron continues to be one of the most valuable assets to his team.
Kurt Zouma: It seems as though Kurt was willing to prove his commitment to this team this year and we commend him for his behaviour. He did struggle somewhat with injury for parts of the season, but still managed a 49% success rate in challenges when he did play. He also scored twice, reminding us of why he is handy to have around the box.
Vladimir Coufal: Vladimir racked up 27 league games and 10 Conference League appearances this term. The dangling carrot of playing a final in Prague worked wonders for his motivation and we saw some improvements on last season, which had been disappointing. We can see how frustrated he gets when his performances are below par, which is encouraging.
Angelo Ogbonna: It’s been great to see Angelo integrate back so well after his injury woes last term. Winning 63% of duels both on the ground and in the air, he’s been an important part of the defence. He’s also shown his commitment to the cause with rallying cries to fans and vowing to avoid relegation. We’d really like to see Angelo stay for another term as he has more to give.
Ben Johnson: Ben had slightly fewer opportunities to perform this year, but he still took the opportunity to play like he was in a class above. After such a big year last year, it would have been easy for him to be underwhelming, but we’re still glad he’s available to call on and trustworthy enough to cope with the pressures of league and cups.
Thilo Kehrer: As one of the newest additions to the class, Thilo had a mixed start. There was a lot of promise shown before the academic year kicked in, but he did have some shaky moments and looked a little nervous. Statistically, he’s been sound in terms of tackles and dribbles. There have also been some mighty performances, so we need to see more of that next year, as there is serious potential for Thilo.
Craig Dawson: Craig may have left us half way through the academic year, but he still took home a medal for his European conquests. He deserves credit for his start to the season and there were certainly games following his departure that showed how much his classmates missed him, both going forward and defensively.
Nayef Aguerd: We were delighted to welcome Nayef to the group this year, so it was so unfortunate that he was injured in preseason. Having said that, he scored twice in 18 games, which left him with a 25% conversion rate of big chances, which is a good start. He slotted well into the Conference League squad, and we hope he’ll have an impact in Europe next term too.
Emerson: There was a lot of expectation on Emerson’s shoulders and he took his chances in the Conference League well. He set about his work in an understated manner and this also helped him to settle in well when he had his chances in the league. We’re proud that he’s now written into the history books as the first player to complete the hattrick of European trophies – another reason for West Ham to go down in folklore.
Pablo Fornals: Yet again, Pablo has contributed to some major moments this term and we’ll never forget his European semi-final goal and celebration. Through 50 appearances in all competitions, he scored seven times, including a rarely seen scorpion flick. Although Pablo appeared to have a confidence crisis half way through the year and didn’t create any chances in the league, he seemed to find his stride later in the year. We still love having him around, we want to see his mojo back!
Manuel Lanzini: We really wanted to see the old Lanzini back again this year, but it just hasn’t clicked for him. Although he hasn’t been the worst player on the pitch, he’s been fairly quiet. Again, the defensive side of his game has been better than his attacking, much down to his supporting role rather than starring. We’re sorry to see Manu leave, we love his character. We wish him well for the future.
Tomas Soucek: As much of a good team player Tomas is, we hoped last season was a blip in form, but sadly this term we didn’t see many magic moments. He frustrated his tutors at times, because we know there’s so much more in there. He also committed too many fouls, seeing him land the seventh highest in the league. He’s a joyous character, and we want him to find his feet again.
Declan Rice: Declan has been a dream to teach. Although this may not have been his standout term in the league (along with many others), he’s continued to lead his classmates in an exemplary way. He has still managed to be in the top 10 for pass completion in the league, with 2083. And he’s the ninth best tackler, with 79. Without his skill and commitment, this season could have been a lot worse.
Lucas Paqueta: Lucas is naturally gifted and it’s great to see pupils like that come through the class. He had some of the standout performances of the term and came close to getting the coveted gold star. He does need to go easy on the fouls – along with Tomas Soucek, he needs to be sent to the corner for a quick think about his timing! But we can forgive that and really can’t wait to see him continue to shine next year.
Flynn Downes: Flynn has quickly settled in with his classmates and been touted as a potential future captain. In 35 appearances overall, he seemed wise beyond his years. If he can keep his head down and has been learning from the likes of Declan Rice, he can slot well into the centre of midfield and may prove to be a key student next term.
Maxwel Cornet: We were excited to welcome Maxwel into the team and sadly he was plagued by a mysterious injury. But in his brief appearances he was really impressive. His patience will pay off, as his tutors know that he has plenty to offer in front of goal, so we hope to see his true potential next season, maybe across a few competitions.
Michail Antonio: With five goals and three assists in the league, Michail continues to offer something positive. He scored one more goal in all competitions than last season, and is taking the number nine responsibility to heart. We would like to see him cut some of the mistakes from his game and once again be the confident player he was, but he still has a part to play in this class.
Jarrod Bowen: Jarrod continues to shine as he was the joint top scorer in the class, in the league. He was also the joint top assistor. Although overall, he did score less than last season, so we’d like to see him netting more next season. The defensive side of his game has improved, and his adaptability has helped others who may have struggled throughout the season. And of course he provided the whole school with its best moment in recent history, so a gold star for that!
Said Benrahma: Said has tried really hard this term and we can see his willingness to play and to improve. He takes plenty of shots on goal but could improve decision making and accuracy. He is currently the sixth highest player in the league to hit the woodwork, a total of four times. Four more goals could have been a great help to the class! We’re tough on Said, because we know he has the potential. His coolness at the penalty spot has proved to be a really valuable skill.
Gianluca Scamacca: Gianluca undoubtedly has talent, he needs to keep his head up and concentrate on impressing. Tactics and ideas may not have suited him, but he still has the ability to score when given the opportunity. He scored eight times overall, and clearly has the ability to read the game. He has a great partnership potential with Lucas, and just needs to bide his time and not get hot headed.
Danny Ings: While Danny was initially drafted into the class to avoid relegation, he has settled in well with his teammates. He scored three in 22 appearances, but that can be improved on next season if he is handed more opportunities both in the league and various cup competitions. His experience is great for his younger peers and will continue to be so.