• By Alessandro Schiavone in Lens

Uninspired Hammers held to goalless draw by an unrefined Lens side


If the fans expected a goal galore and beautiful football all they got was anything but as nothing separated Racing Club the Lens and West Ham in a 0-0 draw at Stade Bollaert-Delelis.


Both sides finished seventh in their respective domestic campaigns last season. But here the common denominators end. And while West Ham kept all their most prized assets adding Gianluca Scamacca to their ranks, Lens manager Franck Haise saw Cheick Kouyate and Jonathan Clauss move on, showing a clear upheaval of the club’s ambitions.


But their absences were not felt as Lens outplayed an uninspired West Ham side which chased shadows during the 90 minutes. The closest they came was when Seko Fofana smashed a right footer into the crossbar which would surely have beaten Alphonse Areola, acclaimed on his return to Northern France.


In an attack versus defence first period, Racing Club de Lens had most of the ball and created several chances. But couldn’t reap the rewards their desire, dominance and attacking intent warranted. Be it a for a lack of clinical edge or Fabiansi’s bravura. They just couldn’t score. As a result, the score was still goalless after 45 minutes as West Ham failed to show up. Both Florian Sotoca and Lois Openda came close.


Lukasz Fabianski kept out the former’s low drilled effort before coming off his line to thwart Belgian hotshot Openda’s header after a superb flick-on by Facundo Medina following a corner.


But that was about that. Les Sang et Or got themselves into good positions, worked hard off the ball, transitioned fast but rarely carried a real threat going forward. Kurt Zouma and Craig Dawson were composed and concentrated at the back. Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek protected the defence superbly. Ben Johnson less so as he gave possession away in a dangerous area only for Lens to fail to pounce on it on the break. All West Ham could muster in a disappointing first-half was a lame Said Benrahma shot from distance.


More of the same after half-time. Lens kept asking most questions without delivering the sucker punch whereas the lethargic visitors still look like they aren’t over Frankfurt, appearing to have lost spark and conviction.


Fofana had the best chance of a dull second half when he had crack from outside the box but his audacious attempt struck the crossbar on 73 minutes.


West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen didn’t do much better when his close-range effort cannonned off the woodwork late on.


And while the hosts sent their passionate supporters into raptures when they nicked a late winner against Inter Milan a week ago, history didn’t repeat itself.


Despite a depleted side the fans have a lot to look forward to.


On the other hand, West Ham are crying out for a real number 9 to lead the line.


And who better than the refined Italian Scamacca who netted 16 times in Serie A last season?


RC Lens


30 Brice Samba- 14 Facundo Medina- 4 Kevin Danso- 5 Christopher Wooh- 3 Dever Machado- 29 Premyslaw Frankowski- 8 Seko Fofana- 26 Samed Abdul- 20 David Pereira- 7 Florian Sotoca- 11 Lois Openda-


West Ham United


1 Lukasz Fabianski- 2 Ben Johnson- 4 Kurt Zouma- 5 Coufal Vladimir- 8 Pablo Fornals- 15 Craig Dawson- 20 Jarrod Bowen- 22 Said Benrahma- 26 Arthur Masuaku- 28 Tomas Soucek- 41 Declan Rice