Friday, 29 August 2014

West Ham United vs Southampton

Saturday 30th August 2014
Boleyn Ground

West Ham United vs Southampton

So this season is already turning out to be a bit of a roller coaster.

A successful summer of transfer dealings was followed up by a disappointing defeat at home to Spurs. The pain of this defeat was then absolved by a wonderful away performance and victory across London at Crystal Palace. Obviously that high was shortlived, as we then managed to shoot ourselves in the foot in the cup against Sheffield United.

Based on how the season has panned out so far, we should probably win at the weekend then?

Key Player
After a summer that saw Southampton hemorrhage their key players to Premier League rivals, it's difficult to pick out who would be classed as the Saints key player these days.

The club dug their heels in to keep hold of the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodgriguez, key player from recent seasons, but it is a new signing who I believe holds the key to a successful season at St Mary's.

Serbian winger Dusan Tadic joined the club for a fee of around £10.9m from FC Twente earlier this summer in a bid to replace Anfield bound skipper Adam Lallana. It is still the (very) early stages of his Saints career, but it looks as though Tadic will prove to be worth the outlay.

Southampton brought the winger to the Premier League after seeing him create a ridiculous 133 chances in 33 Eredivisie last season, and registering a whopping 14 assists. In his first appearance of last season, the 4-1 away thumping of Feyenoord, Tadic created 10 chances.

Last year, he also attempted 100 take ons (55% success), scored 16 goals, and hit the target with 50% of his 68 shots on goal (see image below).

And it seems that Tadic is settling in well on the south coast. In his 2 Premier League appearances so far, he has created 3 chances - bagging one assist - and is averaging 3 attempted take ons per game.

Tadic also offers a bit of a different approach to the game than Lallana.

Whereas the England midfielder drifts across the front three in almost a free role, Tadic is more of an out and out winger. The heat maps below are taken from Southampton's away games at Liverpool this season and last.

As you can see, Lallana was far more involved in the centre of the park, floating around the field and getting involved wherever he could. Tadic on the other hand, looks to get involved in wide areas, taking on the fullback at every opportunity (are you listening, Joey O'Brien?).

Southampton have plenty of dangerous players in their ranks (James Ward-Prowse, Steven Davis, Graziano Pelle), but if West Ham are to get off the mark at home this season, Tadic is a man we will need to keep quiet.

How do you stop Southampton?
Last time out, Southampton laboured to a nil-nil home draw with West Bromwich Albion, despite holding 58% of possession. With the large volume of possession, they were only able to forge out 9 shooting opportunities throughout, hitting the target just twice.

When you look at the way West Brom defended, you can see why. As we've already seen above, wideman Tadic spends most of the game in wide areas, while Steven Davis on the other flank spends his time further in field. West Brom dealt with this perfectly.

As you can see from the average positions chart below, Andre Wisdom (#2), Saido Berahino (18#) and Youssouf Mulumbu (#21) teamed up and defended quite deep on the right hand side to counter the attacking threat of Tadic (#11) and Ryan Bertrand (#21).

On the other flank, however, as Davis (#8) came inside, Sebastien Poconoli (#15) and Chris Brunt (#11) were able to push forward and pen back the attacking thread of Nathaniel Clyne (#2).

And this tactic is similar to the one taken by Liverpool the week before. The advancing Tadic and Bertrand meant that Jordan Henderson (#14) sat wide and deep to support right back Javier Manquillo (#19). On the other flank, Davis' wandering infield meant Glen Johnson (#2) and Raheem Sterling (#31) were free to push on and attack the Saints' backline.

The approach taken by both Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion shows a glimpse of how West Ham can both keep Southampton quiet, and how to attack them.

Personally, I would be tempted to play Mohamed Diamé at right midfield for this one. His energy and tackling would help to provide a good buffer for Joey O'Brien when dealing with Southampton's strong left side. This would also allow Stewart Downing to move over to the left flank, where he is likely to find more space and spend more time attacking with Aaron Cresswell.

It seems to me that Southampton have replaced quality with quality this summer.

Whilst Luke Shaw may have a brighter future in the game, Ryan Bertrand is an equally adept fullback for the present. Tadic is a welcome addition in place of Lallana, and Graziano Pelle looks to be a fine replacement for Rickie Lambert.

The one area that Southampton have not strengthened though, is at centre half. Although Dejan Lovren left for more than £20m to head to Liverpool, Southampton have replaced him with last seasons shaky looking backup Maya Yoshida.

The Japanese international is a decent defender, but is nowhere near the quality of Lovren, and his partnership with Jose Fonte has never looked convincing.

Yoshida has actually started the season very well, making 1 block, 6 interceptions and 7 clearances in 2 games, as well as winning 2 out of 2 aerial duels and 6 out of 9 attempted tackles. However, over the last couple of seasons Yoshida has been a liability at the back. In his 40 Premier League appearances over the last two seasons, Yoshida has made 5 defensive errors, to leading directly to goals.

There is no particular area that Yoshida is poor, but his overall game is less developed than Lovren, and he stands out as the weakest link in a strong Southampton side. West Ham should look to attack the centre backs by running at them, and delivering testing balls into the box from the wide areas. Mauro Zárate should provide a real test for the likes of Yoshida, and hopefully the Argentine will have the beating of him.

 Head to Head 
43% Head to Head Win % 29%
63 Won 42
40 Drawn 40
42 Lost 63
251 Goals Scored 203
203 Goals Conceded 251

 Recent Form (excl. Friendlies) 
L W L L W L Last 6 W W D L D W
6 Goals Scored 7
8 Goals Conceded 3
L L L W L L Home/Away Form L L D W L W
4 Goals Scored 7
7 Goals Conceded 9
 Form Player (excl. GK) 
 (Last 6 League) 
Stewart Downing - Nathaniel Clyne
6 Appearances 6
504 Minutes Played 540
180 Sum Squawka Performance Score 207
30 Average Squawka Performance Rating 35
193 Passes Attempted 302
156 Completed 257
81% Success Rate 85%
19 Chances Created 10
0 Assists 0
6 Attempts on Goal 1
4 On Target 1
2 Goals 1

15 Take Ons Attempted 6
5 Successful Take Ons 4
33% Success Rate 67%
8 Tackles Made 25
1 Successful Tackles 15
13% Success Rate 60%
3 Interceptions 9
11 Clearances 18
0 Blocks 3
2 Defensive Actions Per Game 5
2 Aerial Duels 5
2 Won 2
100% Success Rate 40%

0 Defensive Errors 0
0 Leading to a Goal 0
 Last Meeting 
22 February 2014
0-1 Maya Yoshida 8'
1-1 Matt Jarvis 20'
2-1 Carlton Cole 23'
3-1 Kevin Nolan 71'

4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1

Adrián - Artur Boruc
Guy Demel - Calum Chambers
James Collins - Jose Fonte
James Tomkins - Maya Yoshida
George McCartney - Luke Shaw
Mark Noble - Morgan Schneirderlin
Matthew Taylor - Jack Cork (63')
Stewart Downing - Adam Lallana
(73') Kevin Nolan - Steven Davis (78')
(57') Matt Jarvis - Jay Rodriguez
Carlton Cole - Rickie Lambert (78')

Jussi Jääskeläinen - Kelvin Davis
(73') Winston Reid - Dejan Lovren
Pablo Armero - Nathaniel Clyne
Jack Collison - James Ward-Prowse (78')
(57') Mohamed Diamé - Gaston Ramirez (63')
Antonio Nocerino - Guly do Prodo
Joe Cole - Sam Gallagher (78')

West Ham United: James Collins, Carl Jenkinson, Kevin Nolan, Matt Jarvis, Andy Carroll
Southampton: Jay Rodriguez, Sam Gallagher

West Ham United: 

  Opposition Last Time Out (League)
vs West Bromwich Albion
 Goals Scored: 0
 Goals Conceded: 0
 Starting Formation: 4-2-3-1

  Fraser Forster

  Nathaniel Clyne  Jose Fonte  Maya Yoshida  Ryan Bertrand

  Morgan Schneiderlin  Victor Wanyama

  Steven Davis (45')  James Ward-Prowse (78')  Dusan Tadic

  Graziano Pelle

Kelvin Davis
  Florin Gardos
  Jos Hooiveld
  Saphir Taider
  Jack Cork (78')
  Lloyd Isgrove
  Shane Long (45')
 Best Player: Fraser Forster(SR: 69)
 Worst Player: Graziano Pelle(SR: -14)
 Top 5's (Last Season) 
 Goals Scored 
Kevin Nolan 7 - 15 Jay Rodriguez
Carlton Cole 6 - 13 Rickie Lambert
Mohamed Diamé 4 - 9 Adam Lallana
Joe Cole 3 - 3 Jose Fonte
Ravel Morrison 3 - 3 Dani Osvaldo

Kevin Nolan 5 - 10 Rickie Lambert
Andy Carroll 4 - 7 Steven Davis
Mark Noble 4 - 5 Adam Lallana
Matt Jarvis 3 - 4 Nathaniel Clyne
Stewart Downing 2 - 3 Jay Rodriguez

 Passing Accuracy 
Ravel Morrison 86.4% - 89.3% Morgan Schneiderlin
Mark Noble 82.8% - 87.3% James Ward-Prowse
Jack Collison 81.3% - 86% Jack Cork
Stewart Downing 80.6% - 84.6% Adam Lallana
Joey O'Brien 79.5% - 84.5% Steven Davis

 Chances Created per game 
Stewart Downing 1.9 - 1.9 Adam Lallana
Mark Noble 1.5 - 1.7 Steven Davis
Andy Carroll 1 - 1.4 Rickie Lambert
Kevin Nolan 0.9 - 1.1 Nathaniel Clyne
Matt Jarvis 0.9 - 1.1 James Ward-Prowse

 Successful Dribbles per game 
Ravel Morrison 2.1 - 1.8 Adam Lallana
Mohamed Diamé 2.1 - 1.6 Luke Shaw
Stewart Downing 1.1 - 1.2 Jay Rodriguez
Guy Demel 1 - 0.9 Gaston Ramirez
Mark Noble 0.9 - 0.8 Dani Osvaldo

 Tackles per game 
Mark Noble 2.9 - 3.4 Morgan Schneiderlin
Mohamed Diamé 2.1 - 2.3 Jack Cork
Matthew Taylor 2 - 2.2 Nathaniel Clyne
James Collins 1.8 - 2.1 Luke Shaw
Kevin Nolan 1.8 - 2 Dejan Lovren

 Aerial Duels Won per game 
Andy Carroll 8.9 - 3.5 Maya Yoshida
Modibo Maïga 5.9 - 3.3 Dejan Lovren
James Tomkins 4 - 2.4 Jose Fonte
James Collins 3.5 - 2.3 Victor Wanyama
Carlton Cole 2.2 - 1.9 Calum Chambers

Sam Allardyce - Ronald Koeman
 Current Club 
39.7% Win % 33.3%
56 Won 1
32 Drawn 1
53 Lost 1
0 League Titles 0
0 Cup Wins 0
01/06/2011 Appointed 16/06/2014
3y 90d Time in Charge 75d
 Managerial Career 
39.7% Win % 55.7%
350 Won 288
231 Drawn 111
300 Lost 118

7 Sides Managed 8
2 League Titles 3
0 Cup Wins 5
Preston North End First Managerial Role Vitesse Arnham
30/09/1992 Start Date 01/01/2000
21y 333d Experience 14y 241d

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Crystal Palace 1 - 3 West Ham United

Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace vs West Ham United
0-1 Mauro Zárate 34'
0-2 Stewart Downing 37'
1-2 Marouane Chamakh 48'
1-3 Carlton Cole 62'

The perfect tonic for a disappointing derby defeat on the opening day was always going to be a victory away at Palace. But what we got was far more than just a victory, it was a sign of a changing philosophy.

The overall performance of the team was a joy to behold on Saturday afternoon. For the first time in a long time, this was a West Ham side playing slick, quick football, being adventurous in attack and resolute in defence.

This was a performance that married together the wishes of the fans, and the pragmatism of the manager.

To begin, I'm going to talk about that defensive performance.

I said before the game that Yannick Bolasie was the dangerman in the Palace side; a player who can trick his way past the most capable of Premier League defenders. On Saturday, Bolasie didn't have a sniff.

The pacy winger attempted six take ons during the game, three on either flank, and was successful with none of them (as seen by the image below). He created no chances for his team mates, had no shots on target, and was successful with just 2 of his 9 crosses.

A lot of this credit must go to fullbacks Aaron Cresswell and Joey O'Brien (who I'll come onto in a moment), but it should be made clear that 4 of those failed take ons displayed below were stopped by our own part time box of tricks Ricardo Vaz Te.

What I liked about our defensive performance against Palace, was that our fullbacks were happy to press on and join in with attacks (as they did with regularity), but they were still aware of their defensive duties, as you can see in their combined heatmap below.

Both O'Brien and Cresswell put in very good performances (not reflected in their Squawka performance scores) and were a key part in the way we played the game.

They each had an attempt on goal, made three key passes between them, but also put in a combined 5 tackles, 4 interceptions, 8 clearances and blocked a shot. This was a pair of fullbacks on top of their game, and if they can continue their form, they can each have a significant impact on our performances this season.

On to the attacking side of our game.

A real issue in our play over the last couple of seasons has been a failure to create goalscoring opportunities, and to take those opportunities when they arise. This was not the case on Saturday.

Against Palace, we had 17 attempts on goal, hitting the target with 47% (8) of these, and converting three of them. 

One of the key reasons to our attacking success was down to a change in personnel, but I'll come onto that in the Key Player section later.

I've wracked my brain trying to think of negatives, and the truth is that there really weren't any. This is a very good allround performance, and to criticise it wouldn't be fair.

If there was one criticism, it would probably be the performance of Carlton Cole.

This is a really harsh criticism considering Cole bagged the key third goal, created 2 chances for team mates, hit the target with both his attempted on goal and had a passing success rate of 86%.

However, throughout his near 70 minutes on the pitch, Carlton managed a measly 15 touches of the ball. Compare this to the brief cameo made by Diafra Sakho. Sakho had 18 touches his 22 minutes, and also had a couple of attempts on goal.

If Carlton is to keep his place in the team, and I am certainly not advocating him being dropped here, he will need to increase his involvement in games. Particularly his link up with the number 10 - he passed to Mauro Zárate twice, and received no passes from him in 68 minutes.

If you compare their heat maps, you can see that both strikers had a similar involvements throughout the game. However, it is important to recognise that Sakho was in the pitch less than a third of the time that Carlton was.

Key Player
There were positive performances all over the park on Saturday, but the key player for me was Mauro Zárate.

The Argentine bagged a wonderful goal with a dipping volley from outside the box to open the scoring. He also had another 3 attempts on goal, completed 93% of his passes, and was successful with 3 of his 5 attempted take ons.

But what made Zárate's performance key for West Ham, was the way in which he linked with his teammates. Despite not registering a single key pass against Palace, the presence that the Argentine had in the attacking third allowed for his colleagues to get forward far more fluidly than we are used to seeing.

If you compare the average positions of the midfield three from our last two games, you can see that Zárate's positioning is far closer to Carlton Cole than Kevin Nolan's was against Spurs. This change meant that Cole was far from isolated, and also meant that the other midfield players had an extra forward pass available.

This message is reinforced by looking at Zárate's touches throughout the game. As you can see, 27% of his involvement in the game came in the key zone outside of the penalty area.

By having a player capable of beating a man, picking a pass, or shooting from range in this zone, West Ham were able to unsettle the Palace defence from the outset, leaving space for widemen to run into.

This was our best performance under Sam Allardyce.

I remember back to our 6-0 win against Brighton in the Championship, and our 3-1 win over Chelsea, and our hattrick of wins over Spurs and I remember that there were elements of luck in those games. Times when the opposition could or should have punished us, and times when we could have played far better.

Against Palace, there was nothing we could or should have done differently. Every single player had a good game, and as a team we just clicked.

Tonight we face Sheffield United in the cup before taking on Southampton at the weekend. If we continue this sort of form, I fully expect us to win both of these games.

 General Play 
4-2-3-1 Formation 4-2-3-1
(-3) Julian Speroni - Adrián (14)
(17) Martin Kelly - Joey O'Brien (3)
(-7) Brede Hangeland - James Tomkins (24)
(-26) Damien Delaney - Winston Reid (9)
(-19) Joel Ward - Aaron Cresswell (-10)
(31) Mile Jedinak - Mark Noble (23)
(6) Stuart O'Keefe - Cheikhou Kouyaté (45)
(2) Barry Bannan - Stewart Downing (61)
(31) Marouane Chamakh - Mauro Zárate (83)
(-15) Yannick Bolasie - Ricardo Vâz Te (15)
(3) Fraizer Campbell - Carlton Cole (17)

(-4) Dwight Gayle - Diafra Sakho (-5)
(20) Jon Williams - Diego Poyet (1)
(4) Glenn Murray - Mohamed Diamé (5)

Best Performance
(31) Marouane Chamakh - Mauro Zárate (83)

Worst Performance
(-26) Damien Delaney - Aaron Cresswell (-10)

47% Possession 54%

361 Passes Attempted 435
Mile Jedinak 67 Most Attempted 90 Mark Noble

74% Passing Accuracy 80%
61% In Opp. Half 63%
Martin Kelly 85% Best Accuracy (min. 15 passes) 92% Mauro Zárate

57 Long Balls 56
16% % Long Balls 13%
Joel Ward 12 Most Long Balls (excl. GK) 11 Mark Noble

Most Frequent Pass Combination
Jedinak to Chamakh 10 - 14 Tomkins to Noble

 26 Aerial Duels Won 24 
 52% Success 48% 
Mile Jedinak 10 Most Won 6 Winston Reid

Mile Jedinak 83 Most Touches 104 Mark Noble

 Offensive Play 
9 Attempts on Goal 17
4 On Target 8
3 Off Target 4
2 Blocked 5
44% From Outside the Box 41%
Yannick Bolasie 2 Most Shots 4 Mauro Zárate

8 Key Passes 14
Jon Williams 2 Most Key Passes 3 Stewart Downing

22 Crosses 20
Yannick Bolasie 9 Most Attempted 9 Stewart Downing

5 Successful Crosses 6
23% Success 30%
Barry Bannan 2 Most Successful 4 Stewart Downing

20 Take Ons Attempted 15
7 Successful Take Ons 6
35% Success 40%
Barry Bannan 2 Most Take Ons 3 Mauro Zárate

 Defensive Play 
40 Tackles Attempted 34
26 Successful Tackles 17
65% Success 50%
Joel Ward 6 Most Tackles 5 Cheikhou Kouyaté

26 Clearances 41
Damien Delaney 8 Most Clearances 10 James Tomkins

13 Interceptions 15
Mile Jedinak 4 Most Interceptions 3 Aaron Cresswell

5 Shot Blocks 2
Fraizer Campbell 1 Most Shot Blocks 1 Winston Reid

 14 Fouls 11 
Stuart O'Keefe 3 Most Fouls 4 Carlton Cole

1 Yellow Cards 3
Crystal Palace:  Mile Jedinak   
West Ham United:  Winston Reid,  James Tomkins,  Joey O'Brien 

0 Red Cards 0
Crystal Palace:     
West Ham United:     

 Head to Heads 
Julian Speroni vs Adrián
-3 Squawka Rating 14

3 Goals Conceded 1
5 Saves 3
4 Claims 1
3 Successful Claims 1
75% Success 100%

26 Total Distribution 28
12 Accurate 10
46% Success 36%

4 Goal Kicks 4
1 Accurate 2
25% Success 50%
2 Throw Outs 1
2 Accurate 1
100% Success 100%

8 Kick from Hand 5
3 Accurate 3
38% Success 60%
12 Other 18
6 Accurate 4
50% Success 22%

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

Brede Hangeland 6 Most Passed To 2 Mark Noble
Joel Ward 3 Most Passes From 4 Winston Reid

Brede Hangeland vs James Tomkins
-7 Squawka Rating 24

8 Aerial Duels 6
6 Duels Won 5
75% Success 83%
0 Tackles Attempted 3
0 Tackles Completed 1
0% Success 33%
7 Clearances 10
0 Interceptions 2
1 Blocks 0
0 6yrd Blocks 0
0 Errors Leading to Shot 0
0 Errors Leading to Goal 0
27 Passes Attempted 56
19 Successful 44
70% Success 79%
0 Crosses Attempted 0
0 Successful 0
0% Success 0%
0 Key Passes 1
0 Attempts on Goal 1
0 On Target 0
0 Goals 0
Martin Kelly 4 Most Passed To 14 Mark Noble
Julian Speroni 6 Most Passes From 11 Winston Reid

Yannick Bolasie vs Stewart Downing
-15 Squawka Rating 61

23 Passes Attempted 35
18 Successful 28
78% Success 80%
0 Key Passes 3
0 Assists 0
2 Attempts on Goal 2
0 On Target 1
0 Goals 1
6 Take Ons Attempted 2
0 Take Ons Successful 0
0% Success 0%
9 Crosses Attempted 9
2 Successful 4
22% Success 44%
0 Tackles Attempted 2
0 Tackles Completed 1
0% Success 50%
0 Clearances 3
1 Interceptions 2
0 Blocks 0
0 6yrd Blocks 0
0 Errors Leading to Shot 0
0 Errors Leading to Goal 0
Marouane Chamakh 4 Most Passed To 6 Joey O'Brien
Joel Ward 8 Most Passes From 13 Joey O'Brien

Marouane Chamakh vs Mauro Zárate
31 Squawka Rating 83

1 Attempts on Goal 4
1 On Target 2
1 Goals 1
73 Touches 50
3 in Penalty Area 3
4% % Penalty Area 6%

2 Key Passes 0
0 Assists 0
54 Passes Attempted 26
41 Successful 24
76% Success 92%
2 Take Ons 5
0 Successful Take Ons 3
0% Success 60%
11 Aerial Duels 2
1 Duels Won 0
9% Success 0%
Joel Ward 7 Most Passed To 9 Mark Noble
Mile Jedinak 10 Most Passes From 13 Mark Noble