Wolverhampton Wanderers Training Session
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David Moyes and Declan Rice explain how tactical tweak helped West Ham beat Wolves

David Moyes and Declan Rice both suggested Wolves’ shape forced West Ham United to change their own formation yesterday.

Wanderers were beaten 1-0 at the London Stadium. And it was a hugely disappointing result after also losing to Arsenal in midweek.

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Bruno Lage made five changes to his starting XI. He brought in Ki-Jana Hoever, Fernando Marcal, Leander Dendoncker, Francisco Trincao and Fabio Silva for Nelson Semedo, Rayan Ait-Nouri, Joao Moutinho, Daniel Podence and Raul Jimenez.

Some Wolves fans expressed their concerns about the starting XI as the news filtered through.

And they were right to be concerned as a poor performance would follow.

As bad as Wolves were though, some credit must go to the Hammers, who made it difficult for the visitors.

They set up with a 4-2-3-1, but changed to a 3-5-2 partway through. Aaron Cresswell moved inside to play as a left centre-back, with Pablo Fornals operating as a left wing-back.

Explaining his decision to do that, Moyes said (whufc.com): “We went to 3-5-2 because I was more concerned that, with Wolves playing that shape, we might find difficulties, because you can see how good a footballing team they are at the moment.

“I thought that Wolves would try to change and make things better in the second half, which they did do.

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“We also talked [at half-time] about being patient. Wolves don’t concede many goals. It’s not that easy.”

England midfielder Declan Rice added: “I think you could see in our shape that we matched them up and we were on the front foot right from the start.

“That’s a mentality thing, going out there trying to run all over them. I think we regained the ball so much, missed some chances in both halves. Wolves are a great side and we knew that, but today we really upped our game, our level and we deserved it in the end.”

Wolves created chances in the game. But Lage’s side had just one shot on target, suggesting the quality in the final third still leaves a lot to be desired.

Proactive Moyes got the better of Lage as Wolves lose to West Ham

West Ham changing their shape definitely helped them.

Going with three at the back allowed Tomas Soucek to be a bit more adventurous. The Czech Republic international ultimately scored the game’s only goal.

The Scot saw things weren’t working and he moved to take action.

Photo by Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images

That is something that Lage perhaps needs to improve on. So far during his time at Wolves, he has arguably been more reactive than proactive.

Perhaps if he’d made substitutions and/or changed his own shape sooner, there might have been a different outcome.

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