Saturday 2nd November
West Ham United vs Aston Villa
After a hard fought victory over Burnley in the Capital One Cup in midweek, West Ham now welcome Aston Villa to the Boleyn Ground.
Villa haven't been in the best of form, losing their last two games, and failing to score in their last three matches.
Part of this could be down to talisman Christian Benteke's recent dry spell. The Belgian scored four goals in his opening four games this season, but hasn't scored in three games now - missing a penalty last weekend against Everton.
Despite this, Benteke is the obvious dangerman for Villa. In his debut Premier League season he bagged 19 goals in 34 appearances, and almost single handedly keeping the Villains away from relegation. In fact, the Belgian scored a massive 40% of his sides goals.
On his day, Benteke can be unplayable. Against Arsenal on the opening day of the season, he bagged a brace, winning an uncharacteristically high 60% of his aerial duels, bullying and battering the Arsenal centre backs.
Provided either James Collins or James Tomkins recover from knocks in time to line up against Benteke this weekend, he should have no such joy against a West Ham back line that has managed 5 clean sheets so far this season.
Below is Benteke's heat map from that Arsenal game. What is clear, is that he doesn't simply hang around the penalty area picking up scraps. He is happy to drop deep to affect play, often carving out his own opportunities.
One of the ways to limit the dangers that Benteke poses, is to cut off his supply line.
Under Paul Lambert, Aston Villa have been set up to soak up pressure from the opposition, and then hit on the counter attack. Opposition fullbacks often commit forward, leaving space for the pacy Benteke, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann to attack.
Everton coped with this tactic very well last weekend.
The image below shows Everton's attempted tackles. The Toffees attempted 26 tackles against Villa (winning 17) with 22 of those coming within their own half. The ability of the Everton defenders and midfield to sit in position and deal with the counter attack was typified by Gareth Barry, who stayed in the deep defensive midfield role, breaking up play.
Barry's importance in keeping Villa quiet suggests that Mark Noble will have an important role to play on Saturday. Noble has attacked with an increased swagger this season, driving the ball forward at any given opportunity to support the forwards. But he will need to display discipline as the main holding midfielder, breaking up play, and stopping Villa coming through the centre of the park on the break.
But Noble and his midfield colleagues will have more to deal with than just stopping the break. Villa also possess a number of gifted passers of the ball in the middle of the park.
Last season, Ashley Westwood took the plaudits as a patient, economical passer of the ball, but this year the star has been Fabian Delph.
The former Leeds United captain has completed an impressive 82% of his passes this season, and has made the most passes of all Villa players. Delph currently averages 48 passes per game in the league this season.
Whilst Villa and Delph are good in possession, happy to keep hold of the ball in the middle of the park, they do rely on the counter attack to create chances. As already touched upon, Everton dealt with the break very well on Saturday afternoon. The image below show's Delph's attempted passes from that day. What you can see, is that the Englishman completed the majority of passes in the middle third of the pitch.
When moving into the attacking third, his success levels fell. You can see that the majority of his failed passes were balls toward the penalty area, whilst the one chance he did create came on the break, with the one yellow area right in the centre circle.
The final area to mention, is Villa's defence.
This season, Ron Vlaar has been the stand out defender in their back line, but he has yet to be really tested in the way West Ham will test him.
Whilst Vlaar's dual success looks very impressive - 89% of tackles won, 60% of headed duels won - he has only been involved in a small number of headed duels this season.
Should Carlton Cole come into the side at the weekend, Vlaar and his colleagues will have a completely different style of play to come up against. And if Cole doesn't come into the side, it is fair to assume that the 4-6-0 formation would continue, meaning the Villa defence will again play against a different style of play.
In my opinion, West Ham are a better side than Aston Villa, and we should win this game.
Our home form has been poor recently - although we can point to some unfortunate results, rather than particularly poor performances - and this is the game that we need to get back on track.
For me, the key is that the back four, and the holding midfielder remain disciplined. Villa have a number of very quick, direct players who will run at you and cause mayhem. West Ham must remain disciplined to counter this.
In attack, we are capable of hurting Villa. Ron Vlaar has been the outstanding defender for them, but his aerial prowess if still questionable, remaining mostly unchallenged this season. If West Ham can get the ball into the right areas, we can hurt Villa.
There is no reason why we can't win this game, and I think we will.
Head to Head
36% Head to Head Win % 36%
38 Won 38
31 Drawn 31
38 Lost 38
166 Goals Scored 168
168 Goals Conceded 166
W L W L D W Last 6 W L W D L L
9 Goals Scored 4
6 Goals Conceded 10
W W L L W L Home/Away Form W D W L W D
10 Goals Scored 9
10 Goals Conceded 6
Form Player (Last 6 League)
Winston Reid - Ron Vlaar
6 Appearances 6
540 Minutes Played 540
225 Sum Squawka Performance Score 156
38 Average Squawka Performance Rating 26
229 Passes Attempted 214
168 Completed 180
73% Success Rate 84%
0 Chances Created 1
0 Assists 0
2 Attempts on Goal 3
1 On Target 1
1 Goals 0
17 Tackles Made 11
13 Successful Tackles 10
76% Success Rate 91%
21 Interceptions 12
45 Clearances 48
7 Blocks 2
12 Defensive Actions Per Game 10
24 Aerial Duels 9
16 Won 5
67% Success Rate 56%
0 Defensive Errors 0
0 Leading to a Goal 0
10 February 2013
1-0 Christian Benteke 74'
2-0 Charles N'Zogbia 78'
2-1 Ashley Westwood OG 87'
4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1
Jussi Jääskeläinen - Brad Guzan
Joey O'Brien (24') - Matthew Lowton
James Tomkins - Ron Vlaar
Winston Reid - Ciaran Clark
Emanuel Pogatetz - Nathan Baker
Mark Noble (76') - Ashley Westwood
Mohamed Diamé - Fabian Delph
Joe Cole - (63') Jordan Bowery
Kevin Nolan - (85') Charles N'Zogbia
Matthew Taylor (67') - (64') Andreas Weimann
Andy Carroll - Christian Benteke
Raphael Spiegel - Shay Given
Guy Demel (24') - Joe Bennett
Matt Jarvis - Barry Bannan
Gary O'Neil - Brett Holman
Ricardo Vâz Te (67') - (85') Yacouba Sylla
Carlton Cole (76') - (63') Darren Bent
Marouane Chamakh - (64') Simon Dawkins
West Ham United: James Collins, James Tomkins, George McCartney, Alou Diarra, Matthew Taylor, Ricardo Vâz Te, Andy Carroll
Aston Villa: Jores Okore, Gary Gardner, Marc Albrighton, Charles N'Zogbia
West Ham United: n/a
Aston Villa: n/a
Opposition Last Time Out
Goals Scored: 0
Goals Conceded: 2
Starting Formation: 4-4-2
Leandro Bacuna Ron Vlaar Nathan Baker Antonio Luna (45')
Andreas Weimann Ashley Westwood Fabian Delph Gabriel Agbonlahor
Aleksandar Tonev (77') Christian Benteke
Ciaran Clark (45')
Karim El Ahmadi
Nicklas Helenius (77')
Best Player: Ron Vlaar
Squawka Rating: 22
Worst Player: Brad Guzan
Squawka Rating: -23
Top 5's (Min 3 Apps)
Ravel Morrison 2 - 4 Christian Benteke
Ricardo Vâz Te 2 - 1 Leandro Bacuna
Joe Cole 1 - 1 Karim El Ahmadi
Mark Noble 1 - 1 Libor Kozak
Kevin Nolan 1 - 1 Antonio Luna
Matt Jarvis 2 - 2 Gabriel Agbonlahor
Mohamed Diamé 1 - 1 Leandro Bacuna
Ravel Morrison 1 - 1 Brad Guzan
Mark Noble 1 - 1 Andreas Weimann
Kevin Nolan 1 - 1 Ashley Westwood
Stewart Downing 85% - 88% Jores Okore
Ravel Morrison 83% - 85% Nicklas Helenius
Mark Noble 82% - 85% Aleksandar Tonev
Kevin Nolan 80% - 84% Ron Vlaar
Joey O'Brien 79% - 84% Karim El Ahmadi
Chances Created per game
Stewart Downing 2.3 - 1.7 Christian Benteke
Mark Noble 2.2 - 1.6 Gabriel Agbonlahor
Matt Jarvis 1.3 - 1.3 Matthew Lowton
Rǎzvan Raţ 1 - 1.3 Ashley Westwood
Modibo Maïga 0.8 - 1 Andreas Weimann
Successful Dribbles per game
Mohamed Diamé 2.2 - 2.9 Fabian Delph
Mark Noble 1.7 - 1.4 Gabriel Agbonlahor
Ravel Morrison 1.4 - 1 Leandro Bacuna
Joe Cole 0.8 - 1 Antonio Luna
Modibo Maïga 0.7 - 0.8 Andreas Weimann
Tackles per game
Mohamed Diamé 2.9 - 4.1 Karim El Ahmadi
Mark Noble 2.6 - 3.7 Fabian Delph
Winston Reid 2.3 - 2.9 Antonio Luna
James Collins 2.2 - 2.1 Leandro Bacuna
Kevin Nolan 2.2 - 2 Matthew Lowton
Aerial Duels Won per game
Modibo Maïga 6.2 - 7.7 Christian Benteke
James Collins 3.3 - 3.2 Libor Kozak
James Tomkins 3.3 - 2.5 Nathan Baker
Winston Reid 3.2 - 2 Ciaran Clark
Joey O'Brien 1.4 - 1.6 Fabian Delph
Sam Allardyce - Paul Lambert
42.3% Current Club Win % 35.0%
44 Won 20
28 Drawn 12
32 Lost 25
40.0% Managerial Career Win % 41.3%
338 Won 158
227 Drawn 90
279 Lost 134
2 League Titles 1
0 Cup Wins 0