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.


  1. I imagine the tactics you recommend to get the best out of him are exactly what they currently are playing(if that makes sense?), but the opposition players are doing their best to thwart them (as seem to be succeeding? Sadly.

  2. He also needs a target to hit in the box with his crosses. One thing I have noticed is how sluggish Andy Carroll is at getting into the box. more often than not it is Nolan and/or Vaz Te that are first on the scene to receive crosses. Often from my seat in the Alpari, I see us breaking down the wing, especially trhough Jarvis with Carroll barely over the halfway line chugging his way upwards. I wonder if having Carroll so deep is a deliberate tactic. He gets involved in a lot of defending in the box so maybe he is less obliged by Allardyce to steam into the box when we break to conserve energy. I suppose defence must come first for our club but I am sure Jarvis would be more productive if he had Carroll charging into the box to hit every time.