Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Comparision: Andy Carroll vs Carlton Cole

Andy Carroll vs Carlton Cole
24 Age 29
6’3” Height 6’2”

West Ham United Career
30/08/2012 Joined 05/07/2006
Liverpool From Chelsea
Loan Fee £1,000,000

12(2) Appearances 165(72)
Goals 59

01/09/2012 Debut 19/08/2006
Fulham Opposition Charlton Athletic

26/11/2012 Debut Goal 19/08/2006
Tottenham Hotspur Opposition Charlton Athletic

12(2) Appearances 13(10)
Goals 2
0 Assists 1

61.31 Capello Index Rating 59.51

37 Attempts on Goal 33
2.6 Attempts per Game 1.4

21 Chances Created 10
1.5 Chances Created per Game 0.4

226 Aerial Duels 206
145 Duels Won 98
64% Won 48%

404 Passes 377
240 Successful Passes 223
59% Successful 59%

Carlton Cole & Andy Carroll have managed five goals between this season. It's possible that both will leave in the summer, but are either worth keeping? Both have their strengths and weaknesses, so I decided to take a closer look at both, and try to decide who deserves to stay.

Since Andy Carroll cemented his place in the Newcastle United first team back in 2009/10, both he and Carlton Cole have spent three seasons in the Premier League, and one in the Championship.

In that time, Carroll scored 44 goals in 134 club appearances, a rate of one goal every 3.0 games. Cole has managed 39 in 128, one in every 3.3. So, in terms of goals scored, neck and neck.

On paper, Carroll is exactly the sort of player that should thrive under Sam Allardyce. With a reputation of being excellent in the air, Carroll should be perfect for a manager who has a reputation of getting his teams to kick the ball into the air.

This season, Carroll & Cole have contested a similar number of aerial duels, Carroll’s 226 to Cole’s 206. Carroll, though, has won 145 (64%) of these duels, whilst Cole has won just 98 (48%) of his.

Carroll’s undoubted ability in the air has led to questions about whether his presence encourages the team to play long ball tactics more readily when he is on the pitch. Despite the concerns from certain sections of the support, this does not seem to be supported by the stats.

In the 12 games in which Carroll has started in the Premier League this season, 16.2% of passes have been long balls, whilst 16.1% of passes have been long balls in the 12 league matches that Cole has started.

In fact, the three games in which the highest proportion of long balls were played were all games in which Cole started (Aston Villa (H) 21%; West Bromwich Albion (A) 22%; Everton (H) 23%).

One area where there does seem to be a marked difference between the two is the way in which they bring others into play. A criticism of Cole since Sam Allardyce’s appointment has been that he struggles to bring his team mates into the game, and the team lacks a cutting edge as a result.

This is another area in which Carroll doesn't seem to struggle quite as much. Despite not registering a direct assist this season, Carroll has created an average of 1.5 shooting opportunities for his team mates this season, and has an average 2.6 attempts on goal per game himself. In comparison, Cole creates 0.4 chances per game for his colleagues, and hast just 1.4 per game himself.

Many of Cole’s supporters have claimed that this lack of creation and cutting edge can be put down to a lack of support from team mates, with Cole often cutting an isolated figure when playing the lone striking role. However, when looking at average player positions, it becomes clear that this isn't always the case.

The following images show two games in which Carroll started, and two in which Cole started. There is one home, and one away game each. Both home games were clear victories, whilst both away games were poor defeats.

What is clear from the images is that Carroll (# 8) plays a far more advanced role than Cole (# 9). With Cole player in a far deeper position, closer to his midfielders, he is far less likely to make an impact.

West Ham United 3 - 0 Fulham: Andy Carroll #8
West Ham United 3 - 1 Chelsea: Carlton Cole #9
Aston Villa 2 - 1 West Ham United: Andy Carroll #8
Sunderland 3 - 0 West Ham United: Carlton Cole #9

Based on the information available, it’s easy to say that Andy Carroll is more conducive to West Ham’s style of play. He might not score enough goals, but if 16% of our passes are long balls, it makes sense to have a striker who wins over 60% of aerial duels he goes into.

Similarly, a striker doesn't necessarily need to score goals, provided he is laying them on for his team mates. Okay, so Carroll doesn't actually have any official assists this season, but he has created numerous chances for his team mates, and has been directly involved in the build up for plenty of other goals.

Having said that, it is difficult to justify a £17m price tag for a player whose goal scoring record has decreased year on year since he first experienced regular first team football, and who seems to spend an increasing amount of time on the sidelines.

As for Carlton Cole, I’m a big fan of his. I love that he loves the club, and I love that he took a pay cut to play for us in the Championship last year. I don’t, however, love his regular contributions to the team. For me, it might be time to say goodbye to Carlton. He may have been the clubs top goalscorer for each of the past four seasons, but you have to remember that there has been little to no competition to him in each of those years.

If only one can stay, it has to be Carroll. But, come August, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see both of them representing other clubs. 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

West Ham United 2 - 3 Tottenham Hotspur

Monday 25th February 2013
Boleyn Ground

West Ham United vs Tottenham Hotspur
0:1 Gareth Bale 13'
1:1 Andy Carroll 25'
2:1 Joe Cole 58'
2:2 Gylfi Sigurdson 76'
2:3 Gareth Bale 90'


In my match preview, I wrote that Gareth Bale was Tottenham's main threat, and after last night's result  and performance, it seems that was accurate. Bale scored twice as Tottenham stole victory from under West Ham's noses and was a thorn in West Ham's side throughout.

When I wrote the match preview, I found that the teams who were successful in stifling Tottenham and Bale were those whose defence pressed high up the pitch and forced them back. Well, when looking at average positions from last night, it is apparent that that is exactly how West Ham defended.

Guy Demel (# 20) pressed very high up the pitch, almost as a right sided midfielder, and Joey O'Brien (# 17) is also pressed ahead of the centrebacks. In addition to this, West Ham's forward line succeeded in keeping Tottenham penned in, with Joe Cole (# 26), Mohamed Diamé (# 21) and Matt Jarvis (# 7) keeping in and around the target man of Andy Carroll (# 8).

So, where did it go wrong? Well, there has already been criticism of some of West Ham's substitutions for disrupting a very good team performance. Joey O'Brien had a very effective game in nullifying the threat provided by Aaron Lennon on the Tottenham right, making a team high 5 tackles, 9 clearances, and not conceding a single foul. However, once Emanuel Pogatetz was introduced to play left fullback and O'Brien switched to the right, Lennon came into play far more effectively.

To be fair to Pogatetz, in the 28' he played he made 4 tackles, only 1 less than O'Brien in the entire game. But, this does show how the attacking emphasis from Tottenham changed after Pogatetz introduction. They clearly targeted the defender's lack of pace and began to attack relentlessly down the right flank. In fact, just minutes after coming onto the pitch, Pogatetz gave away the freekick from which Tottenham scored their equaliser.

But West Ham's real downfall was the lack of care in possession. When a team has just 38% of a games possession, it is important to use the ball far more effectively than a 67% pass success rate suggests West Ham did.

Just 7 of the 14 West Ham players on show posted a pass success rate of more than 70%, between them misplacing 89 passes throughout the game.

In my view, there are a couple of places West Ham went wrong. The subsitutions at key times did not work out. Emanuel Pogatetz struggled against the pace as Bale & Lennon, and the team dropped deeper as a result. Jack Collison's late introduction for Mohamed Diamé meant the team lost it's midfield enforcer in time to see Bale wrap up the points.

The poor passing is yet again a major concern. Giving the ball away against top sides is a recipe for disaster, as Guy Demel found out when passing to Bale for the opener.

But, if we look at the game objectively, West Ham deserved more. We created chances (Joe Cole created 5 by himself) and we threatened Tottenham throughout. In the end, we were beaten by a fantastic goal from a player on top of his game.

Another game, another defeat. But this time, there is cause for optimism.

General Play
4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1
28.5 Starting XI Average Age 25.4

Joe Cole Best Performer Gareth Bale
69.58 Capello Index Rating 82.04
James Collins Worst Performer Hugo Lloris
57.73 Capello Index Rating 58.76

38% Possession 62%
(averaged from whoscored, bbcsport & skysports)

67% Passing Accuracy 84%
58% In Opposition Half 74%
Mohamed Diamé 88% Best Accuracy 95% Steven Caulker

321 Passes Attempted 516
Gary O'Neil 43 Most Passes Attempted 63 Scott Parker

59 Long Balls 43
James Collins 9 Most Long Balls (excl. GK) 9 Michael Dawson

Offensive Play
14 Attempts on Goal 27
On Target 13
Off Target 9
Shots Blocked 5
Attempts from Outside Box 14
Andy Carroll 4 Most Attempts on Goal 10 Gareth Bale

6 Corners 12
2 Offsides 2

28 Crosses 27
8 Successful Crosses 11
Joe Cole 8 Most Crosses Attempted 14 Gareth Bale

56% Aerial Success 44%
Andy Carroll 14 Most Duels Won 5 Michael Dawson

Defensive Play
25 Tackles Attempted 17
18 Successful Tackles 13
Joey O'Brien 5 Most Tackles 3 Lewis Holtby

38 Clearances 52
Joey O'Brien 9 Most Clearances 22 Michael Dawson

5 Shots Blocked 5
Guy Demel 2 Most Shots Blocked 2 Jan Vertonghen

12 Fouls Committed 8
James Collins 3 Most Fouls Committed 3 Mousa Dembele

Yellow Cards 1
Mousa Dembele (TH) 8'
Joe Cole (WHU) 59'
Mohamed Diamé (WHU) 62'
Gary O'Neil (WHU) 71'
James Collins (WHU) 82'

Red Cards 0

Head to Head
Jussi Jaaskelainen vs Hugo Lloris
Goals Conceded 2
11 Saves 4
Crosses Claimed 5

50% Passing Accuracy 53%
18 Total Passes 15
16 Long Balls 9
89% % Long Balls 60%

Joey O'Brien vs Kyle Walker
50% Aerial Duels Won 0%
Tackles 1
Blocks 1
Interceptions 3
Clearances 7
Fouls Committed 1

67% Passing Accuracy 91%
24 Total Passes 33
Long Balls 1
21% % Long Balls 3%

Joe Cole vs Gareth Bale
82% Passing Accuracy 70%
22 Total Passes 33
Long Balls 2
5% % Long Ball 6%
Crosses 14
Successful Crosses 7
Chances Created 6
Assists 0

Tackles 0
Blocks 0
Interceptions 0
Clearances 3
Fouls Committed 0

Attempts on Goal 10
Attempts on Target 6
1 Goals 2

Andy Carroll vs Emmanuel Adebayor
Goals Scored 0
Attempts on Goal 2
Attempts on Target 2
78% Aerial Duels Won 67%

49% Passing Accuracy 85%
35 Total Passes 27
Chances Created 0
0 Assists 0

Thursday, 21 February 2013

West Ham United vs Tottenham Hotspur

Monday 25th February 2013
Boleyn Ground

West Ham United vs Tottenham Hotspur

Head to Head
35% Head to Head Win% 40%
67 Won 76
48 Drawn 48
76 Lost 67
264 Scored 300
300 Conceded 264

L D L L W L Recent Form   L D W W W D 
5 Goals Scored 8
9 Goals Conceded 6

Mark Noble Form Player Gareth Bale
65.44 Average Capello Index Rating Last 6 Games 73.83
1 Goals 6
2 Assists 0

66.9 Average Capello Index Rating Season 66.51
24 Appearances 31
4 Goals 17
2 Assists 3
35 Chances Created 59
1,335 Passes 892
1,009 Completed 700
76% %Completed 78%


When playing against one of the top teams in the division it can often be a real challenge to settle upon who is likely to provide the most danger in the forthcoming match. Tottenham Hotspur have a number of top class attacking threats (Aaron Lennon, Mousa Dembele, Emmanuel Adebayor, Lewis Holtby), and some quality defensive players (Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Steven Caulker, Scott Parker). But their true danger man is clear for everyone to see: Gareth Bale.

If West Ham want to get anything from Monday’s game against Tottenham, they will need to contain a player who has scored 6 goals in his last 6 games, and 15 in 27 for the season.

“Impossible!”, you might think. But there could be a way.

According to the Capello Index, Bale’s best and worst performances have come in the 4-0 win over Aston Villa, and the 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion, respectively.

Against Villa, Bale had 84 touches of the ball (team average 51), whilst against West Brom he managed just 50 (team average 49). It seems simple, but the best way to keep Bale quiet is to keep the ball away from him. Easier said than done.

The key difference in the way West Brom & Aston Villa defended against Bale is clear when looking into average positions in the games. The first two images shows the West Brom game (Tottenham = Blue; West Brom = Orange).

The Tottenham team were pressed back by the West Brom attackers, with Bale (# 11) the furthest man forward. You can see that West Brom played a brave tactic that day, with both fullbacks (# 2 & 6) pushing high up the pitch in support of the wide midfielders, particularly on the right wing. As a result, Tottenham’s left back (Assou-Ekotto # 32) was pressed back, and was unable to help Bale in attack. In turn, 41% of Tottenham attacks coming down the right wing, away from Bale.

Compare this to Bale’s strongest performance, against Aston Villa (Tottenham = Orange; Aston Villa = Blue). Villa played a deep and narrow defensive game, with only Christian Benteke’s (# 20) average position in the opposition half.

As a result of this, the Tottenham fullback’s (Kyle Naughton # 16 & Kyle Walker # 28) were able to push high up the pitch in support of the wingers, allowing Lennon (# 7) and, in particular, Bale to push inside and attack the box.

Bale had a field day. He scored a hat-trick, had seven shots on goal, created four goalscoring opportunities for his team mates, had six successful dribbles, and whipped in an astonishing 17 crosses.

Based on these games, the clearest recommendation I can give is that West Ham need to play a back 4. Aston Villa attempted to play a fluid back 3/5 and were completely demolished by Bale.

If West Ham are to take anything from the game, Big Sam should play an adventurous 4-2-3-1, pushing the fullbacks on and suppressing Tottenham’s fullbacks from roaming forward.

This Tottenham Hotspur don't have many weak links but the way in which West Brom suppressed their attacking talents shows that the key to getting a positive result is the fullbacks. If West Ham’s fullbacks stay deep in their own half, Tottenham will press forward and outnumber the backline. They must get up in support of the wide men, who, in turn, must provide a constant supply line of crosses into the central striker.

There aren't many of them, but one of the areas where West Ham do have a clear advantage is in the air. Andy Carroll is likely to start against Tottenham, and he has won 63% of aerial battles this season. Now, I'm not suggesting that Tottenham's defenders are weak in the air, far from it, but they are far less practiced in this element than the West Ham strikers. Between them Caulker, Dawson, Gallas & Vertonghen have contested a total of 234 aerial battles this season (winning 57%). Andy Carroll has contested 208 on his own.

It is also important to remember that West Ham are a completely different proposition at home. They have more shots per game at home, the players dribble at the opposition more often at home, and, most importantly, they actually score goals at home. We have the 10th best home record in the division, and it's this home form that is likely to keep the side in the Premier League.

It would be easy for me to make predictions about the result of the game, but it really depends on what West Ham team turn up. Playing conservatively against the 3rd best away record in the league, and the divisions form player is suicide. But, if Big Sam sends his team out with some attacking intent, there is always a chance we can take something from the game. Stranger things have happened.

Oh, and if someone could send Gareth Bale a lasagne, that’d be great.

Last Meeting
25th November 2012

1:0 Jermain Defoe 44’
2:0 Gareth Bale 58’
3:0 Jermain Defoe 64’
3:1 Andy Carroll 82’

4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1
Jussi Jääskeläinen – Hugo Lloris
Joey O’Brien – Kyle Walker
James Tomkins – Michael Dawson
Winston Reid – Steven Caulker
George McCartney – Jan Vertonghen
Mark Noble – Sandro
Mohamed Diamé – Tom Huddlestone
Gary O’Neil – Aaron Lennon
Kevin Nolan – Clint Dempsey
Modibo Maïga – Gareth Bale
Andy Carroll – Jermain Defoe

Andy Carroll Best Performer Jermain Defoe
65.18 Capello Index Rating 75.29
Joey O’Brien Worst Performer Clint Dempsey
60.18 Capello Index Rating 57.25

Joey O’Brien (WHU)
George McCartney (WHU)
James Collins (WHU)
Jermain Defoe (TH)
Younnes Kaboul (TH)
Sandro (TH)


Opposition Last Time Out
vs Olympique Lyonnais

1:0 Maxime Gonalons 17
1:1 Mousa Dembele 90

Best Player: Gareth Bale
Capello Index Rating: 82.83
Worst Player: Emmanuel Adebayor
Capello Index Rating: 58.88

Top 5’s (minimum 5 apps)

Goals Scored
Kevin Nolan 6 – 17 Gareth Bale
Mark Noble 4 – 15 Jermain Defoe
Modibo Maïga 4 – 8 Clint Dempsey
Andy Carroll 2 – 3 Aaron Lennon
Carlton Cole 2 – 3 Emmanuel Adebayor

Passing Accuracy
Mohamed Diamé 82.8% - 91.3% Mousa Dembele
Jack Collison 82.4% - 90.5% William Gallas
Mark Noble 82.3% - 88.3% Steven Caulker
Guy Demel 81.4% - 86.7% Jack Livermore
Joe Cole 80.7% - 86.3% Jan Vertonghen

Chances Created per game
Joe Cole 2.0 – 2.3 Gareth Bale
Mark Noble 1.5 – 2.1 Mousa Dembele
Andy Carroll 1.5 – 2.1 Aaron Lennon
Matt Jarvis 1.3 – 1.8 Kyle Walker
Jack Collison 1.2 – 1.3 Emmanuel Adebayor

Tackles per game
Mark Noble 4.0 – 3.3 Sandro
Mohamed Diamé 3.8 – 3.0 Mousa Dembele
George McCartney 2.0 – 2.8 Kyle Naughton
Winston Reid 1.8 – 2.8 Jan Vertonghen
James Collins 1.8 – 2.0 Scott Parker

Aerial Duels Won per game
Andy Carrol 10.1 – 2.4 Steven Caulker
Carlton Cole 4.3 – 2.2 Michael Dawson
James Collins 3.8 – 2.0 Clint Dempsey
James Tomkins 2.9 – 1.8 Jan Vertonghen
Winston Reid 2.5 – 1.8 Kyle Naughton

Sam Allardyce - Andre Villas-Boas
44% Current Club Win% 50%
36 Won 19
21 Drawn 11
24 Lost 8

40% Managerial Career Win% 58%
332 Won 94
221 Drawn 35
272 Lost 32

2 League Titles 1
0 Cup Wins 3

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Player Spotlight: Matt Jarvis

# 7
Matt Jarvis
DOB: 22/05/1986
Position: Winger

West Ham United Career
Joined: 24/08/2012
From: Wolverhampton Wanderers
Reported Fee: £7.5m - £11m

Appearances: 19(4)
Goals: 1
Assists: 0
Average Capello Index Rating: 62.87

Debut: 25/08/2012 vs Swansea City
Debut Goal: 01/10/2012 vs Queens Park Rangers

When West Ham United announced the signing of Matt Jarvis in August 2012, many West Ham fans were expecting fireworks. Six months down the line, and the club record signing hasn't quite lived up to our expectations.

Sam Allardyce told us that Jarvis was "one of the best final-third crossers in the Premier League", and Jarvis himself told us his aim was to "add a bit of pace, crossing and deliveries that will provide some assists". So, after 24 appearances in Claret & Blue, why have we only seen Jarvis directly involved in one goal?

When Jarvis joined the club, the first thing that popped into my head was Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-1 demolition of West Ham back in March 2010, when Gianfranco Zola was still in charge. Jarvis tore West Ham apart that day, scoring once and creating havoc down the left wing. Wolves were exceptional, and everything seemed to come through Jarvis.

The reasons for the success of club and player that day becomes abundantly clear when looking closely at the way Wolves attacked: they got Jarvis high up the pitch, and they gave him the ball.

The first image shows Jarvis (# 17) as the furthest man forward for Wolves, constantly hugging the touchline. As a result, 41% of Wolves attacks came down that left flank through him.

So, has he been used in a different way at West Ham? The simplest answer to that question is: sort of.

If we look at Jarvis' most recent appearance, the 1-0 vs Swansea City, we can see that his average position is just as wide as it was when he played against West Ham for Wolves, but he is playing in a far deeper role. But most interesting is the way in which West Ham attack. Just 30% of attacks against Swansea came from the left hand side. It is, therefore, safe to assume that Jarvis did not have enough possession in the areas that make him dangerous.

But this isn't always the case. According to, 38% of West Ham's attacks in the Premier League this season have come from the left wing. Jarvis has attempted 154 crosses in his 21 league appearances since joining the club, an average of 7.3 crosses per game, or one every 10.5 minutes.

The fact that the team attack most commonly down the left flank, and Jarvis again registering as one of the most frequent crossers in the league, suggests that the tactics the side are implementing are not at fault. Bearing this in mind, a new question arises: Is Jarvis underperforming?

Well, despite an almost constant barrage of balls into the box, Jarvis has hits his target just 23% (35) of the time, and created scoring chances on 28 occasions. According to statistics, Jarvis is getting in just as many crosses as he did in 2 of his final 3 seasons with Wolves, but he is creating slightly fewer chances per game.

Another way we can understand Jarvis' performance level is to see how he compares to his peers. In the summer, West Ham were linked with wingers Adam Johnson & Jimmy Kebe before finalising a deal for Jarvis.

West Ham are currently the most frequent crossers in the Premier League (29 per game). Based on figures from the season so far, we can see that Jarvis is more suited to West Ham's traditional winger driven style of play, attempting more crosses per game than either of his competitors. 

So why hasn't Jarvis' West Ham career hit the heights we all hoped? Having looked at the statistics, my opinion has changed.

Previously, I believed that it was simply a case of giving him the ball and letting him whip crosses in. Apparently, that's exactly what we've been doing. My view now isn't that he is being starved the ball, but that he isn't being given the ball in the right places. 

According to the Capello Index, Jarvis' best performance for West Ham so far was his goalscoring appearance against Queens Park Rangers, way back in October. Looking at his average position (# 7) for this game, he seemed to base himself far closer to the position in which he played for Wolverhampton Wanderers against West Ham back in 2010.

It is my firm belief that a slight tweak in tactics to allow Jarvis to push further up the pitch more regularly will see a huge change in the return we see from the man. My message to West Ham fans is to keep faith.