Thursday, 28 March 2013

West Ham United vs West Bromwich Albion

Saturday 30th March 2013
Boleyn Ground

West Ham United vs West Bromwich Albion

Head to Head
39% Head to Head Win% 39%
37 Won 37 
21 Drawn 21
37 Lost 37 
151 Scored 153 
153 Conceded 151 

L W L L W L Recent Form L W W L W D
Goals Scored 6
10 Goals Conceded 4

L W D D W L Home/Away Form D L L W L D
Goals Scored 6
Goals Conceded 7

Andy Carroll Form Player Romelu Lukaku
63.30 Average Capello Index Rating Last 6 Games 65.57
Goals 4
Assists 0

61.25 Average Capello Index Rating League 63.88
14(2) Appearances 14(13)
Goals 13
Assists 2
22 Chances Created 21
467 Passes 407
280 Completed 283
60% %Completed 70%


West Brom are an interesting team. They started the season incredibly well under former West Ham assistant manager Steve Clarke, and, although their early season level has dropped somewhat, they continue to surprise people.

One of the key factors in their success this season, and probably the biggest difference between their season and ours, is that West Brom can boast a natural goalscorer in the form of Romelu Lukaku (and a more than able partner in Shane Long).

Lukaku seems to have a lot of the qualities that West Ham's own on loan striker Andy Carroll possesses, but has outscored the England striker by 10 so far this campaign. If West Brom are to defeat us on Saturday, there's a strong chance it'll be down to the teenage Belgian.

As Sunderland recently found out, Lukaku is a real handful. He runs at people (50 dribbles attempted in 27 games), he is strong in the air (59/128 aerial duels won) and he creates (21 chances created). The reason he's so difficult to deal with, is that he is very mobile and rarely stays in the central striking position for long.

The following images show Lukaku's performance against Sunderland a month ago. The first image (heat map just goes to show how the man simply does not stand still, popping up on both flanks, and through the centre. The second image shows his attempts on goal against Sunderland. This image bears out what the first one tells us, that he will attack from all angles, and is capable of working the keeper from anywhere (White = Goal, Red = Off Target, Purple = Saved).

When West Ham went to the Black Country in December, we managed a 0-0 draw and a valuable away point. There is nothing to suggest that we can't do that again. One of the keys to our success that day was a high workrate, and not allowing the West Brom midfield to surge into the box. Indeed, 65% of shots on Jussi Jaaskelainen's goal that day were from distance.

One thing that will need to change, however, is that West Ham will need to play a more expansive, attacking game. In the away fixture, the midfield played a very narrow formation. This meant the Baggies struggled to create chances, but we offered little attacking threat of our own.

A victory on Saturday would all but see West Ham safe (and almost certainly see Sam Allardyce awarded a new contract). We've been very solid at the Boleyn this season, and I fancy us to beat anyone at home. That said, Sam will need to have a plan in place to stop the likes of Lukaku and Long tearing through us, whilst remembering to offer some kind of threat ourselves.

I have full faith in the team for this one. I'm expecting us to win, and I'm expecting us to be safe.
Last Meeting
16th December 2012

Goalscorers: n/a

4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1
Jussi Jaaslelainen - Boaz Myhill
Guy Demel - Billy Jones
James Collins - Gareth McAuley
Winston Reid - Jonas Olsson
Joey O'Brien - Goran Popov
Gary O'Neil - James Morrison
Mark Noble - Youssuf Mulumbu
Matthew Taylor - Zoltan Gera
Kevin Nolan - Peter Odemwingie
Matt Jarvis - Chris Brunt
Carlton Cole - Shane Long

Winston Reid Best Performer Gareth McAuley
65.76 Capello Index Rating 63.61
Matt Jarvis Worst Performer James Morrison
59.02 Capello Index Rating 58.44

West Ham United: Jack Collison, Joe Cole, Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble
West Bromwich Albion: James Morrison, Steven Reid, George Thorne, Zoltan Gera


Opposition Last Time Out
vs Stoke City

Goalscorers: n/a

Starting Formation: 4-2-3-1

Ben Foster

Billy Jones; Gareth McAuley; Jonas Ollson; Liam Ridgewell

Claudio Yacob; Moussef Mulumbu

James Morrison; Chris Brunt; Jerome Thomas

Romelu Lukaku

Best Player: Peter Odemwingie
Capello Index Rating: 65.15
Worst Player: Ben Foster
Capello Index Rating: 54.67

Top 5’s (minimum 5 apps)

Goals Scored
Kevin Nolan 6 - 13 Romelu Lukaku
Mark Noble 4 - 10 Shane Long
Modibo Maiga 4 - 5 Peter Odemwingie
Andy Carroll 3 - 3 Zoltan Gera
Carlton Cole 2 - 3 James Morrison

Ricardo Vaz Te 3 - 4 James Morrison
Joey O'Brien 3 - 4 Shane Long
Kevin Nolan 2 - 3 Peter Odemwingie
George McCartney 2 - 3 Chris Brunt
Matthew Taylor 2 - 2 Romelu Lukaku

Passing Accuracy
Mohamed Diamé 83.0% - 88.5% Claudio Yacob
Mark Noble 82.3% - 86.3% Youssuf Mulumbu
Jack Collison 81.0% - 84.4% Jerome Thomas
Joe Cole 80.9% - 83.3% Graham Dorrans
Guy Demel 80.9% - 82.5% James Morrison

Chances Created per game
Joe Cole 2.1 - 2.0 James Morrison
Mark Noble 1.5 - 1.7 Chris Brunt
Andy Carroll 1.4 - 1.1 Graham Dorrans
Matt Jarvis 1.4 - 1.1 Peter Odemwingie
Ricardo Vaz Te 1.3 - 1.0 Jerome Thomas

Successful Dribbles per game
Mohamed Diamé 2.2 - 1.2 Peter Odemwingie
Guy Demel 0.9 - 1.0 Youssuf Mulumbu
Ricardo Vaz Te 0.8 - 0.8 Romelu Lukaku
Matt Jarvis 0.5 - 0.7 Billy Jones
Mark Noble 0.5 - 0.6 Marc-Antoine Fortune

Tackles per game
Mark Noble 4.0 - 3.8 Claudio Yacob
Mohamed Diamé 3.8 - 2.7 Zoltan Gera
George McCartney 2.0 - 2.4 Youssef Mulumbu
Winston Reid 1.8 - 2.0 Goran Popov
James Collins 1.8 - 1.9 Billy Jones

Aerial Duels Won per game
Andy Carroll 10.4 - 3.5 Gareth McAuley
Carlton Cole 4.1 - 2.8 Jonas Olsson
James Collins 3.5 - 2.2 Romelu Lukaku
James Tomkins 2.8 - 1.7 Shane Long
Winston Reid 2.6 - 1.6 Goran Popov

Sam Allardyce - Steve Clarke
44% Current Club Win% 41%
37 Won 14
21 Drawn 6
26 Lost 14

40% Managerial Career Win% 41%
333 Won 14
221 Drawn 6
274 Lost 14

League Titles 0
Cup Wins 0

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Player Spotlight: Mohamed Diamé

# 21
Mohamed Diamé
DOB: 14/06/1987
Position: Midfielder

West Ham United Career
Joined: 20/06/2012
From: Wigan Athletic
Reported Fee: Free Transfer

Appearances: 23(2)
Goals: 2
Assists: 0
Average Capello Index Rating: 63.19

Debut: 18/08/2012 vs Aston Villa
Debut Goal: 06/10/2012 vs Arsenal

When Mohamed Diamé was announced as West Ham United's first major summer signing after promotion back to the Premier League, it's fair to say there was a bit of mixed reaction. Some thought Mo was a bargain free transfer for a player who had been linked with Liverpool only weeks before signing, whilst other's thought his hefty wages and his failure to regain a spot in the Wigan Athletic midfield from James McArthur at the back end of last season meant the transfer was doomed to fail.

Since then, Diamé has become a bit a fans favourite at the Boleyn Ground, with some of his early season performances leading to the player being described as a kind of Yaya Touré-lite. In fact, his form was to such a high standard that he was linked with all manor of clubs in the January transfer window.

Mo has shown this season that he is by far the most mobile of our midfielders, with a far greater ability to carry the ball than his peers. This is completely supported by the statistics. Comparing West Ham's regular central midfielders this season, it becomes blindingly clear how different Diamé's game is. Diamé's 2.6 successful dribbles per 90 minutes is much higher than all of his competitors, and is actually higher than the total of all the other midfielders.

In his best performances fro the club, Diamé has been everywhere, popping up all over the pitch stealing the ball from the opposition and driving at defenders from every which way. The following chart shows Diamé's heat map against Chelsea at the Boleyn, when he was introduced at half time.

However, since the transfer window has closed, Diamé hasn't quite looked himself. In the 8 games since returning from injury, Mo hasn't performed in the way that we know he is capable of. It seems reasonable, therefore, to expect a huge difference in his performances in his two 45 minute appearances against Chelsea.

However, according to the heat map, Diamé was in similar positions in each game, often popping up on the left flank, and regularly in advanced positions.

So what has the issue been for Mo since returning from injury? Well, the main criticism that I (and others) have of the man is his decision making. He can often be guilty of taking on one man too many, or making a poor pass when getting into a dangerous area.

Diamé has (very helpfully for me) played 24 games this season. His most effective spell was undoubtedly the middle 8 appearances, including the victory over Chelsea, and the loss to Liverpool. The chart below shows the amount of times per 90 minutes that Diamé has lost possession this season, split into three groups of 8 games. What is clear, is that Diamé is losing possession far more regularly than he had previously been.

For these purposes, loss of possession counts as dispossessed (tackled), turnovers (miscontrol), and unsuccessful passes).

In my opinion, Mo Diamé is the most exciting player in the West Ham team. He's the sort of player I love to watch. He's mobile, he tackles, he runs at the opposition, and he's capable of the sublime. However, he is greatly let down by his distribution and decision making.

When it goes well, Diamé can be devastating. When it goes wrong, he can be anonymous.

If he can become a more consistent creator, Diamé has the potential to be one of the most effective and exciting central midfielders I've ever seen in claret & blue. Although, if he does improve this side of his game he'll probably not be around long enough for us to reap the benefits...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Chelsea 2 - 0 West Ham United

Sunday 17th March 2013
Stamford Bridge

Chelsea vs West Ham United
1-0 Frank Lampard 19'
2-0 Eden Hazard 50'

So, a not overly unexpected defeat at the hands of local rivals. A number of contentious decisions from the referee may have left a bad taste in the mouths of West Ham fans, but if we're being honest with ourselves, Chelsea were just better than us on the day.

Chelsea were excellent in possession on Sunday, with all but Demba Ba and Petr Cech posted over 80% passing accuracy. To be fair to West Ham, we held the ball far better than we have done in recent weeks, with Jack Collison & Mohamed Diamé hitting the target over 90% of the time.

But the true quality of Chelsea's passing can be seen below. The image shows passes that led to a shot being taken. As you can see, Chelsea created chances from all over the pitch. In fact, between the three Chelsea attacking midfielders, Victor Moses, Juan Mata, and the outstanding Eden Hazard, Chelsea created 11 goalscoring opportunities.

In return, West Ham's attacking trio of Ricardo Vaz Te, Jack Collison & Matt Jarvis created 6 chances. The real issue with West Ham's attacking game on Sunday can be seen below. Almost every goalscoring opportunity came from the left wing.

A big talking point from the weekend was Sam Allardyce's decision to remove Mohamed Diamé at half time. It is difficult to say whether or not Sam was right in doing so, but we can look at the stats to make an assessment.

Initially, passing statistics suggest that Diamé was more accurate with the ball (90% to Taylor's 79%), but Taylor attempted more than double the passes that Diamé did. Taylor's passing was also spread more evenly across the pitch.

The first graphic below shows Taylor's passing, and the second Diamé's. What we can see, is that Taylor was more mobile than Diamé, getting the ball in all areas of the pitch and spreading the play well. However, we can also see that Taylor was often wasteful in dangerous positions, which means that West Ham attacks often broke down, leading to a sterile attacking display.

A regular criticism of West Ham this season has been the predictability of the play, and that was seen regularly at Stamford Bridge. Too often we relied upon Matt Jarvis to supply the cutting edge, making it easy for Chelsea to defend against us.

All in all, a poor display against an excellent team. The performance of Jarvis was encouraging, the return of James Tomkins was a nice sight, and we should also be pleased to see Jack Collison last the full 90.

The returns of Mark Noble, Joe Cole & Kevin Nolan will hopefully give us a boost in the next few weeks, and I still expect us to steer well clear of the drop.

General Play
4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1
26.5 Starting XI Ave. Age 27.5

Frank Lampard Best Performance Gary O'Neil
75.6 CI Rating 65.54
Demba Ba Worst Performance Guy Demel
56.15 CI Rating 60.64

58% Possession 42%
(averaged from whoscored, bbcsport & skysports)

87% Passing Accuracy 74%
80% in Opp. Half 66%
Ramires 98% Best Accuracy 91% Jack Collison

571 Passes Attempted 324
Juan Mata 77 Most Passes Attempted 56 Gary O'Neil

62 Long Balls 61
Juan Mata 8 Most Long Balls (excl. GK) 9 Gary O'Neil

Offensive Play
24 Attempts on Goal 13
11 On Target 5
9 Off Target 6
4 Blocked 2
9 From Outside Box 6
Frank Lampard 6 Most Attempts on Goal 4 Andy Carroll

5 Corners 5
1 Offsides 0

19 Crosses 23
2 Successful Crosses 7
Juan Mata 8 Most Crosses Attempted 8 Matt Jarvis

46% Aerial Success 54%
Gary Cahill 4 Most Duels Won 9 Andy Carroll

Defensive Play
13 Tackles Attempted 17
12 Successful 15
Ramires 5 Most Tackles 5 Gary O'Neil

31 Clearances 44
Gary Cahill 10 Most Clearances 21 James Collins

10 Interceptions 10
Cesar Azpilicueta 4 Most Interceptions 3 Gary O'Neil

2 Shots Blocked 4
John Terry 1 Most Shots Blocked 2 Joey O'Brien

5 Fouls 14
Ramires 2 Most Fouls 3 Guy Demel

2 Yellow Cards 0
Winston Reid (WHU) 71'
Guy Demel (WHU) 73'
0 Red Cards 0

Head to Heads
Petr Cech vs Jussi Jääskeläinen
0 Goals Conceded 2
5 Saves 10
2 Crosses Claimed 1
45% Passing Accuracy 47%
20 Total Passes 15
16 Long Balls 15
80% % Long Ball 00%

Gary Cahill vs James Collins
50% Aerial Dules Won 00%
0 Tackles 1
1 Blocks 0
0 Interceptions 0
10 Clearances 21
1 Fouls Committed 0

85% Passing Accuracy 70%
34 Total Passes 10
5 Long Balls 6
12% % Long Ball 60%

Frank Lampard vs Jack Collison
84% Passing Accuracy 91%
67 Total Passes 22
3 Long Balls 3
51% % Long Ball 36%
1 Crosses 0
0 Successul Crosses 0
2 Chances Created 1
0 Assists 0

2 Tackles 2
0 Blocks 0
1 Interceptions 0
2 Clearances 1
0 Fouls Committed 0

6 Attempts on Goal 2
2 On Target 1
1 Goals 0

Demba Ba vs Andy Carroll
0 Goals Scored 0
4 Attempts on Goal 4
2 On Target 1
25% Aerial Duels Won 64%

78% Passing Accuracy 63%
23 Total Passes 30
0 Chances Created 0
0 Assists 0

Friday, 15 March 2013

Chelsea vs West Ham United

Sunday 17th March2013
Stamford Bridge

Chelsea vs West Ham United

Head to Head
40% Head to Head Win% 39%
53 Won 51
28 Drawn 28
51 Lost 53
242 Scored 224
224 Conceded 242

L W W L D W Recent Form L L W L L W
Goals Scored 7
Goals Conceded 13

W W W D W W Home/Away Form L L L L L W
15 Goals Scored 4
Goals Conceded 14

Juan Mata Form Player Joe Cole
72.41 Average Capello Index Rating Last 6 Games 65.00
Goals 2
Assists 0

67.41 Average Capello Index Rating League 65.00
22(6) Appearances 6(1)
10 Goals 2
Assists 1
68 Chances Created 15
1365 Passes 199
11161 Completed 161
85% %Completed 81%


We all know that Chelsea are a top class outfit. They have some of the most gifted attacking footballers on the planet in Juan Mata, Eden Hazard & Emboaba Oscar. They have some top class international defenders in John Terry, Ashley Cole & Branislav Ivanovic. And they have a few former West Ham players to spice things up in Frank Lampard & Demba Ba.

But we also know that we can beat them.

The key to beating Chelsea is to attack them. In the 3-1 home victory back in December, we lost the first half 0-1, with James Tomkins sitting in midfield and we threatened to create pretty much nothing. The introduction of Mohamed Diamé for the second half changed the game, as we attacked relentlessly, penning Chelsea in taking the half 3-0.

We aren't famed for our positive play away from home, but hopefully that is starting to change. In the aftermath of our fantastic 1-0 victory in the Potteries a fortnight ago, I showed a graphic displaying how Matt Jarvis, Joey O'Brien & Guy Demel, in particular, pushed high up the pitch at the Britannia, penning in the Stoke defence allowing us to take the front foot.

This style of play is similar to the way we played so effectively against Chelsea back in December. It was the same three suspects who really pressed high up the pitch, with Jarvis, O'Brien & Demel offering great width going forward. As a result, West Ham managed to put 37 crosses into to box, and a massive 88% of our shots that day were taken from inside the Chelsea box.

To show that our win over Chelsea was no fluke, lets look at how Newcastle United managed to defeat the Blues 3-2 a couple of months back. Both fullbacks, Davide Santon (# 3) & Mathieu Debuchy (# 26) pushed high and wide, with Youan Gouffran (# 11) also pushing up the pitch (albeit in a slightly narrower position). This pressing and width allowed Moussa Sissoko (# 7) to push high up the pitch to play alongside the lone striker Papiss Cisse (# 9).

Sissoko is a player who has very similar attributes to our own Mohamed Diamé, and both players have turned in goalscoring, match winning performances against Chelsea this season. With the possible absence of Kevin Nolan this weekend, my desire would be to see Diamé played in the hole behind Andy Carroll, using his energy to press the Chelsea defence into making mistakes.

What we cannot do, is give the Chelsea players time on the ball. In their recent 4-1 win against Wigan Athletic, Chelsea's players were afforded far too much time and space to control the game. Wigan played with a deep back three with two wingbacks. Neither of their wing backs pushed high enough up the pitch to be effective as attackers, but they did stray far enough forward to be defensive liabilities. Similarly, the midfield due of McArthur and McCarthy (# 16 & 4) sat too deep to penetrate the Chelsea defence.

I suppose the key in this game is what we all thought it would be. Sit off and defend, and Chelsea will likely pick us off. Playing a high, attacking line may be a risky strategy, but the rewards are massive. If we can play how did at the Boleyn we may come back across London with a win.

Any victory at this stage is a huge step towards safety, but an unlikely away win against the champions of Europe? Well that may just see us home.

As Rafa might say, that is a fact.

Last Meeting
1st December 2012

0:1 Juan Mata 13’
1:1 Carlton Cole 66''
2:1 Mohamed Diamé 86'
3:1 Modibo Maiga 90'

4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1
Petr Cech - Jussi Jaaskelainen
Cesar Azpilicueta - Guy Demel
Gary Cahill - James Collins
Branislav Ivanovic - Winston Reid
Ashley Cole - Joey O'Brien
Ramires - James Tomkins
Jon Obi Mikel - Mark Noble
Victor Moses - Gary O'Neil
Juan Mata - Kevin Nolan
Eden Hazard - Matt HJarvis
Fernando Torres - Carlton Cole

Juan Mata Best Performer Mohamed Diamé
74.01 Capello Index Rating 76.23
Gary Cahill Worst Performer James Tomkins
58.88 Capello Index Rating 60.94

Joe Cole (WHU)
Matthew Taylor (WHU)
Kevin Nolan (WHU)
Mark Noble (WHU) 
George McCartney (WHU)

Oriol Romeau (CFC)


Opposition Last Time Out
vs Steaua Bucuresti

1:0 Juan Mata 33'
1:1 Vlad Chiriches 45'
2:1 John Terry 58'
3:1 Fernando Torres 71'

Best Player: Juan Mata
Capello Index Rating: 72.41
Worst Player: David Luiz
Capello Index Rating: 58.36

Top 5’s (minimum 5 apps)

Goals Scored
Juan Mata 18 - 6 Kevin Nolan
Fernando Torres 16 - 4 Mark Noble
Frank Lampard 13 - 3 Andy Carroll
Eden Hazard 11 - 3 Modibo Maiga
Emboaba Oscar 9 - 2 Joe Cole

Passing Accuracy
Jon Obi Mikel 89.9% - 82.9% Mohamed Diamé
Oriol Romeu 89.3% - 82.3% Mark Noble
John Terry 89.0% - 81.3% Guy Demel
Gary Cahill 89.0% - 80.9% Joe Cole
Ashley Cole 88.3% - 79.8% George McCartney

Chances Created per game
Juan Mata 2.6 - 2.1 Joe Cole
Eden Hazard 1.8 - 1.5 Mark Noble
Emboaba Oscar - 1.4 - 1.5 Andy Carroll
Frank Lampard 1.1 - 1.3 Matt Jarvis
Fernando Torres 1.0 - 1.3 Ricardo Vaz Te

Tackles per game
Ramires 3.3 - 4.0 Mark Noble
Cesar Azpilicueta 2.6 - 3.9 Mohamed Diamé
Ashley Cole 2.4 - 2.0 George McCartney
Jon Obi Mikel 2.4 - 1.8 Winston Reid
Emboaba Oscar 2.3 - 1.8 James Collins

Aerial Duels Won per game
Gary Cahill 3.0 - 10.5 Andy Carroll
John Terry 2.8 - 4.3 Carlton Cole
Branislav Ivanovic 2.2 - 3.6 James Collins
Fernando Torres 2.2 - 2.9 James Tomkins
David Luiz 1.8 - 2.6 Winston Reid

Rafael Benitez - Sam Allardyce
52% Current Club Win% 44%
16 Won 37
Drawn 21
7 Lost 25

50% Managerial Career Win% 40%
404 Won 332
198 Drawn 221
207 Lost 273

League Titles 2
Cup Wins 0