Another game, another assist for James Ward-Prowse.
With every passing game, the reported £30m fee West Ham paid Southampton for James Ward-Prowse is looking more and more like the bargain of the season.
On Thursday, the 28-year-old made it three assists in his opening two Europa League games for the Hammers, with an inch-perfect corner for Nayef Aguerd to head home and make it back-to-back wins for David Moyes’ side.
Ward-Prowse has now scored two goals and provided a further six assists in his first eight appearances for West Ham. His incredible set-piece delivery has proved a game-changer for the Irons.
The Hammers took an early lead in the tie thanks to Lucas Paquetá, who headed past Vincenzo Grifo in the Freiburg goal after a fantastic run and cross by Jarrod Bowen. However, for the second UEL game in a row, Moyes saw his team concede in the opening minutes of the second half, as Roland Sallai scored Freiburg’s first ever European goal against an English side.
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The game looked to be petering out for a draw, but West Ham’s set-piece specialist had other ideas. The result makes it eight straight wins in the group stages of the Europa League and extended their unbeaten run to 17 games, a new club record for English sides in major European competitions.
West Ham’s record in the group stages of major European competitions:
◉ Goals: 29
◉ Conceded: 9
◉ Clean sheets: 7
And they’ve never lost away from home. ⚒ pic.twitter.com/UGeYtBWQwY
— Squawka (@Squawka) October 5, 2023
It was another moment of magic from Ward-Prowse on a day in which the midfielder was not included in the England squad for the upcoming international break.
Former West Ham and Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole questioned Gareth Southgate’s decision in the TNT Sports studio after the game.
“I think West Ham will go on and become the best team at set-pieces in Europe this year,” said Cole.
“They’ve got all the ingredients, they attack the ball well and if I’m setting up a team against West Ham, I would be struggling to find a way of stopping that quality from set pieces and the timing attacking the players. West Ham are in a fantastic position.”
Ward-Prowse tops the charts for chances created (9) and assists (3) so far in the Europa League this season and has provided more assists than any other Premier League player across all competitions in 2023/24 (6).
What more does he have to do to get a call-up?