Tuesday, 20 August 2013

West Ham United 2 - 0 Cardiff City

Boleyn Ground

West Ham United vs Cardiff City
1-0 Joe Cole 13'
2-0 Kevin Nolan 76'


After all the anticipation for the new season, West Ham didn't disappoint on Saturday afternoon.

Opening the season against a newly promoted side can be a bit of a tricky affair. The element of the unknown, combined with the excitement of the opposition after sealing promotion can be a dangerous combination.

So a comfortable 2-0 victory was about as perfect as it could have been. Two very good goals, a extremely solid defensive performance, an impressive showing from our centre forward, and an exciting cameo from a new signing meant we kicked off the season in positive fashion.

The performance of Modibo Maiga at centre forward seems as good a place as any to start.

Many have had their doubts that Maiga is capable of filling Andy Carroll's shoes during any spells of absense this season, indeed, the club have made it clear that another centre forward is still high on their shopping list.

However, Maiga showed on Saturday that he can fill in for Carroll when required. Not only did the Malian create three shooting opportunities for his team mates, but he led the line as a target man in a way many of us never expected. Maiga won 10 of his 21 aerial duels against Cardiff's defenders, and held up the ball very well.

His distribution may not have been perfect, but the intent was there, and there was a clear plan in mind with Maiga's passing game. We all know that Sam Allaryce favours the tactic of getting the ball out wide, and Maiga played a big part of this on Saturday. 9 of his attempted passes were to Joe Cole on the right flank, one of the highest pass combinations in the side.

But the side of his game that most impressed me was as target man. The image below shows the passes that Maiga received from his team mates on Saturday afternoon. As the chart shows, Modibo made himself available all across the front line, and was a general nuisance for the Cardiff City defenders.

I've written in the past few weeks about some of the potential selection dilemmas that Big Sam would face when it came to the start of the Premier League season. One selection I didn't anticipate, wast Joey O'Brien continuing at left back, despite the recruitment of Razvan Rat.

O'Brien may not have been the starting left back I'd expected, but he put in a performance to completely justify his selection. Not only did he make two successful tackles and 6 effective clearances, but he also created a goalscoring opportunity  and took more touches of the ball than any of his teammates.

In fact, only Gary Medel of Cardiff managed more touches than O'Brien on Saturday (66 to 65).

The image below displays player influence during the game. The bigger the name, the more involved the player.

Another player who impressed me was Mark Noble.

For the most part, Noble played the game we've seen him develop in the past two or three seasons, sitting deep and dictating the play with his range of passing. But what really pleased me about his performance was his desire to get forward.

I'm sure we can all remember the impact Noble had in the final third of the pitch back in the days of the Curbishley inspired great escape, but we haven't really seen that side to Noble in a long while now.

Last season, Noble stayed deep and tended to allow Mohamed Diamé the freedom to push on. But on Saturday, he showed a real desire to move up the pitch and carry the ball forward. This meant his passing could really hurt the Cardiff defence, and indeed created Kevin Nolan's goal to sew up the points.

The image below shows all passes that Noble played during the game. As you can see, there are a number of passes in the West Ham half, as you'd expect, but there are also a significant amount of passes played within the final third.

(Green = Successful Pass; Yellow = Chance Created; Red = Unsuccessful Pass)


Finally, I'd like to mention Matt Jarvis.

The Middlesbrough born winger had a bit of a mixed debut season in East London last year, becoming the primary attacking outlet for the side, but failing to register a direct assist all season.

Well, he had another mixed afternoon on Saturday. In the first half, Jarvis was a real thorn in Cardiff's side, delivering a number of testing balls into the box, and grabbing the assist that evaded him last season.

The following image shows Jarvis' attempted passes in the first half. As you can see, he got to the byline on a few occasions and cause real problems for the Cardiff defence.

However, in the second half his influence shrank - he managed just the one cross in the second half, and it was unsuccessful. With players like Stewart Downing waiting in the wings, Jarvis will need to increase his levels of consistency if he wants to continue out on the left flank.

The image below shows Jarvis' attempted passes in the second half. Obviously he only managed 26 minutes in the second half, but it seems clear why he only managed that amount, given his contribution!

The conclude, a fantastic start to the season.

We played some wonderful football (how good was Kevin Nolan's goal, by the way), we were never trouble defensively, and we basically picked up our home form where we left it in May.

If there was a downside, it'd be the fact that we failed to control possession at home against a newly promoted side - managing 47% of the possession. However, what that just goes to show is that it's not how much you have the ball that counts, it's what you do with it.

Posting this a day later than I'd planned to has meant that our next opposition Newcastle have just registered a 4-0 defeat, a red card, and have received a bid from Arsenal for their star midfielder. Let's hope their week continues to get worse until next Saturday!

4-2-3-1 Formation 4-2-3-1
(59.46) Jussi Jääskeläinen - David Marshall (52.67)
(59.00) Guy Demel - Matthew Connolly (57.88)
(61.23) James Collins - Steven Caulker (61.31)
(61.44) Winston Reid - Ben Turner (58.90)
(60.54) Joey O'Brien - Declan John (57.34)
(61.57) Mark Noble - Gary Medel (62.57)
(61.84) Mohamed Diamé - Aron Gunnarsson (62.00)
(71.57) Joe Cole - Craig Bellamy (65.24)
(63) Kevin Nolan - Kim Bo-Kyung (62.40)
(57.08) Matt Jarvis - Peter Whittingham (64.54)
(59.70) Modibo Maïga - Fraizer Campbell (60.12)

(-) Stewart Downing - Rudy Gestede (-)
(-) Alou Diarra - Nicky Maynard (-)
(-) Ricardo Vâz Te - Jordan Mutch (-)

Best Performance
(71.57) Joe Cole - Craig Bellamy (65.24)

Worst Performance
(57.08) Matt Jarvis - David Marshall (52.67)

General Play
47% Possession 53%

331 Passes Attempted 422
Mark Noble 47 Most Attempted 60 Gary Medel

70% Passing Accuracy 75%
62% In Opp. Half 65%
Stewart Downing 100% Best Accuracy 93% Gary Medel

63 Long Balls 79
James Collins 14 Most Long Balls (excl. GK) 13 Ben Turner

Most Frequent Pass Combination
O'Brien to Maïga 11 - 12 John Whittingham

 27 Aerial Duels Won 23 
 54% Success 46% 
Modibo Maïga 10 Most Won 3 Sean Morrison

Joey O'Brien 65 Most Touches 66 Gary Medel

 Offensive Play 
18 Attempts on Goal 12
4 On Target 1
9 Off Target 7
5 Blocked 4
8 From Outside the Box 8
Joe Cole 5 Most Shots 5 Peter Whittingham

14 Key Passes 11
Matt Jarvis 3 Most Key Passes 4 Peter Whittingham

19 Crosses 16
Joe Cole 5 Most Attempted 7 Craig Bellamy

7 Successful Crosses 3
37% Success 19%
Joe Cole 2 Most Successful 2 Matthew Connolly

 Defensive Play 
11 Tackles Attempted 11
9 Successful Tackles 7
82% Success 64%
Mohamed Diamé 3 Most Successful 3 Aron Gunnarsson

48 Clearances 32
Winston Reid 13 Most Clearances 8 Ben Turner

5 Interceptions 5
Mark Noble 2 Most Interceptions 2 Aron Gunnarsson

4 Blocks 5
Kevin Nolan 2 Most Blocks 2 Steven Caulker

0 6yrd Blocks 0
 0 Most 6yrd Blocks 0 

 10 Fouls 7 
4 Most Fouls 3

0 Yellow Cards 1
West Ham United:     
Cardiff City:  Matthew Connolly   

0 Red Cards 0
West Ham United:     
Cardiff City:     

 Head to Heads 
Jussi Jääskeläinen vs David Marshall
0 Goals Conceded 2
1 Saves 2
0 Crosses Claimed 2

9 Total Passes 27
5 Accurate Passes 9
56% Success 33%

5 Long Balls 20
56% % 74%

1 Throw Outs 6
2 Kick from Hand 2

0 Errors Leading to Shot 0
0 Errors Leading to Goal 0

Modibo Maïga 6 Most Passed To 6 Steven Caulker

Winston Reid vs Steven Caulker
8 Aerial Duels 8
4 Duels Won 4
50% Success 50%
1 Tackles Attempted 1
1 Tackles Completed 1
100% Success 100%
13 Clearances 6
1 Interceptions 0
0 Blocks 2
- 6yrd Blocks -
0 Errors Leading to Shot 0
0 Errors Leading to Goal 0
22 Passes Attempted 40
14 Successful 30
64% Success 75%
Joey O'Brien 4 Most Passed To  8 Matthew Connolly

Joe Cole vs Peter Whittingham
30 Passes Attempted 48
20 Successful 38
67% Success 79%
1 Key Passes 4
0 Assists 0
5 Attempts on Goal 5
2 On Target 0
1 Goals 0
1 Tackles Attempted 1
1 Tackles Completed 1
100% Success 100%
1 Clearances 2
0 Interceptions 0
0 Blocks 0
- 6yrd Blocks -
0 Errors Leading to Shot 0
0 Errors Leading to Goal 0
Guy Demel 7 Most Passed To 9 Gary Medel

Modibo Maïga vs Fraizer Campbell
1 Attempts on Goal 2
1 On Target 0
0 Goals 0
3 Key Passes 2
0 Assists 0
37 Passes Attempted 21
25 Successful 14
68% Success 67%
21 Aerial Duels 11
10 Duels Won 4
48% Success 36%
Joe Cole 9 Most Passed To 5 Kim Bo-Kyung

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