Ben Johnson impressed in the opening half of the second leg as he played a rare game for West Ham against Viborg at his natural position of right-back.
Early on, the Englishman had some crucial defending to perform in Denmark as Viborg attempted to surprise the Irons defence with a counterattack as pressure mounted on the home team.
Just as the assault was about to break free, Johnson was having none of it and sprinted back with lightning speed to stand in front of the attacker and win a free kick on the halfway line.
Gary Breen, a pundit for Premier Sports, was quite impressed with the 22-year-old who filled in at centre back for the first two games of the season owing to injuries in the team.
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Johnson played brilliant recovery defence, according to Breen. “It appeared like a two-on-one battle was about to break out, and if he hadn’t issued that challenge, the scenario would have been one-on-one from the outside. Simply leaning into him to get the foul was a brilliant play.
Vladimir Coufal may have been West Ham’s first-choice right-back for a while, but if Johnson continues on this path, his time in the starting lineup may be drawing to a close.
Even in an awkward position, he appeared composed enough to execute, and the only reasons he gave up in that situation were Erling Haaland’s brilliance and a fortuitous goal by Taiwo Awoniyi.
He lacks the outstanding offensive ability that some teams are looking for these days, but his phenomenal recovery pace is comparable to Kyle Walker’s at Manchester City.
He is Gareth Southgate’s top pick for England as well, but if the player were to go hurt, Southgate wouldn’t face criticism for selecting Johnson as a comparable alternative.
However, David Moyes should drop the Czech Republic international and allow the indigenous player a regular opportunity to shine. He will rise to the situation as he has on every other occasion in his career.