Friday, 1 August 2014

New Signing: Carl Jenkinson

Carl Jenkinson

DOB: 08/02/1992
Age: 22
Position: Fullback

Previous Club: Arsenal
Previous Division: Barclays Premier League

Transfer Date: 31/07/2014
Reported Fee: Loan

For the first time this summer, West Ham have brought in a player with a bit of recent Premier League experience. Arguably the one thing we've missed in our recruitment this summer is that little bit of Premier League know-how.

Although Jenkinson is still at the start of his career, he has 49 Premier League and Champions League appearances for Arsenal. This, coupled with the fact that the Harlow born England international doesn't have to even move house to join the team will hopefully allow the right back to bed straight in and perform for his new side.

There is an argument that right back is a position in which West Ham were already rather well stocked, with Guy Demel performing admirably last season, and Joey O'Brien offering a very capable back up. But it is expected that Jenkinson will come straight into the side on the opening day against Spurs, and will offer something to the side that his new teammates have yet to provide.

The main area in which Jenkinson outstrips his new competitors is in his ability to hold onto possession. Obviously this seems to come naturally to any footballer who spends time in the general vicinity of London Colney under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger.

In his 14 Premier League appearances last season, Jenkinson had an overall pass completion rate of 91%. This is significantly better than both Demel & O'Brien, and would actually put the former Charlton Athletic man ahead of every single one of his new colleagues - with Ravel Morrison posting the best record of any West Ham player last season (86%).

But his ability to pass accurately paints far from the whole picture.

Not only did Jenkinson complete a far greater proportion of his passes than both Demel & O'Brien, he also attempted far more passes per 90 minutes than both too. Jenkinson played 43.7 passes per 90 minutes last season. For a bit of perspective, Mark Noble was the most frequent passer for the Hammers, with 49.7 passes per 90 minutes from the heart of midfield.

But perhaps the most telling area of all, is that Jenkinson hardly lost the ball  to an opposition player.

Demel was dispossessed (tackles) 0.82 times per 90 minutes, and recorded 0.58 turnovers (miscontrol) per 90 too. O'Brien was dispossessed 0.51 times, and had a rate of 0.81 turnovers per 90. Jenkinson, on the other hand, posted a rate of 0.56 turnovers per 90, and, incredibly, just 0.11 dispossessions per game.

This ability to keep hold of the ball demonstrates what an able footballer Carl Jenkinson is. The signing of Jenkinson (albeit for just a season) seems to tick two of the main boxes for signings this summer.

(a) he's only 22, so provides the youthful exuberance that is needed on the pitch
(b) his strength in possession suggests he will be able to contribute positively to the more expansive style of play we are (supposedly) striving for.

I've already spoken in detail about on of Jenkinson's main strengths as a footballer, his ability to put his foot on the ball and play. However, the young right back has far more in his locker than that.

Jenkinson won 52% of his tackles in the Premier League last season, putting in 2.35 tackles per 90 minutes (more than Guy Demel). He also made 4.81 defensive actions (interceptions, blocks, clearances) per 90. Whilst this figure is lower than both Demel & O'Brien, it should be remembered that Jenkinson's Arsenal side tend to do a lot less defending than West Ham!

But the area I want to specifically focus upon is Jenkinson's engine.

Arguably, Jenkinson left his best performance of 2013/14 til last, in the final game against Norwich City. The fullback opened his professional goalscoring account to mark the day, but it was his all round attacking persistence that caught the eye.

You can see in the heat map below, that Jenkinson spent a good portion of his day tormenting the Norwich left back, using his pace (he's quick, by the way) to get forward time and again.

And, as mentioned previously, Jenkinson is very capable of using possession positively when he gets into such positions.

The image below shows the passes the England man attempted on the day. As you can see, he completed 87% of his passes, and the vast majority of those were short passes (indeed, just 5% of his passes last season were categorised as long balls).

Despite his ability to bomb forward regularly, and his composure in possession, there are a couple of areas in which Jenkinson's game needs to improve.

Firstly, his crossing leaves a lot to be desired.

Last season, Jenkinson attempted 33 crosses (3.69 per 90 minutes) with just 5 reaching a team mate. This is a completion rate of just 15%. In comparison, Guy Demel attempted 2.22 crosses per 90 minutes, but managed an impressive completion rate of 31%.

It should be mentioned that all four of the chances Jenkinson created last season (2 assists) came from crosses from wide positions, suggesting that when they work, they really work. However, such a low success rate will need to be boosted for the fullback to have a positive attacking impact for West Ham.

The image below shows Jenkinson's attempted crosses against Norwich in that game mentioned above. Although he gave an excellent overall performance, his crossing still fell short of the rest of his performance, with none of his four attempted crosses hitting their target.

The other area of possible weakness in Jenkinson's game is his dribbling ability. 

Despite having a wonderful turn of pace in his arsenal, the young fullback managed a take on success rate of just 42% last season. In comparison, Guy Demel, who attempted the same amount of take ons per 90 as Jenkinson (2.12), managed a success rate of 53%, this despite being 11 years senior to the England international.

Having now taken a detailed look into Carl Jenkinson's performances from last season, I feel very confident in proclaiming this as a very positive signing for West Ham.

The turn of pace, ability on the ball, and defensive prowess all combine to make me think that we may have just made a serious upgrade on what was already a strong area of the side. And the fact that both of his new competitors at Arsenal will only be a year into their Gunners careers when he returns to North London next June, can leave West Ham fans feeling optimistic at our chances of retaining Jenkinson's services beyond this season.

As always, all that remains to say, is:

Carl Jenkinson, welcome to West Ham United!


  1. Just like to say this is a very interesting and well constructed article.

    Also with regards to his crossing success, what the stats don't truly reflect is the quality of his crossing. His crosses are quite consistently fast paced and right across the face of goal. But the issue Arsenal have is that we do not play for crosses, there is rarely anyone in the box looking for a header to make them successful crosses.

    Treat him well Hammers!

  2. Thank you for the positive feedback!

    It did occur to me that his crossing stats could be affected by your style of play. Hopefully with the likes of Nolan and Carroll (if he ever plays...) in the box it could make a difference to them.

    I think the vast majority of us are really excited about this signing, and I hope he fits in and makes the impact that we think he might.