Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Hull City 2 - 2 West Ham United

KC Stadium

Hull City vs West Ham United
1-0 Abel Hernandez 39'
1-1 Enner Valencia 50'
2-1 Mohamed Diamé 64'
2-2 Curtis Davies (OG) 67'

We wanted entertainment, and that's certainly what we got last night!

A Monday night in Hull isn't usually much to whet the appetite, but last night's game at the KC was a pulsating affair, with West Ham demonstrating the attractive football the fans have been promised, whilst completely sacrificing any defensive resolve built up over the last couple of years!

There were a lot of positives about last nights performance, with a number of individuals standing out for the Hammers. Stewart Downing was excellent in the middle of the park, the attacking triumvirate of Enner Valencia, Diafra Sakho and Mauro Zárate showed early signs of promise, and Alex Song showed his class coming from the bench.

 The main positive that I want to focus upon is the introduction of a new formation.

For the first time in a long time, West Ham didn't line up in Sam Allardyce's default 4-2-3-1, instead opting for a midfield diamond, as displayed with relative success by England and Liverpool in recent times.

The advantage of playing this system is that it gives the side the numbers in the middle of the park to overrun the opposition, which is exactly what happened last night. The midfield trio of Cheikhou Kouyaté, Mark Noble and Stewart Downing swarmed the centre of the Hull side, dominating Mohamed Diamé & Tom Huddlestone for the Tigers.

The image below shows the Hammers average positions from the game. What you can see, is that Kouyaté (#8), Noble (#16) and Downing (#11) all played very central, relying on the fullbacks Guy Demel (#20) and Aaron Cresswell (#3) to provide the width. This midfield solidity enabled Zárate (#10) to push forward in support of the front two, morphing the side quickly into a classic 4-3-3 formation.

The other advantage of the system was that we had bodies forward in greater numbers and frequency than we often see from this West Ham side.

By starting with two very mobile strikers in Sakho and Valencia, West Ham were able to stretch the Hull defence, and regularly had an outlet high up the park.

The presence of this outlet encouraged us to play in a very different way than we often see when the side operate with a loan target man. Between them, Sakho and Valencia received 49 passes from their team mates, offering regular outlets in the middle of the park and out in the channels.

Compare this to Carlton Cole in our last game against Southampton. During the game, the big striker received just 16 passes, with half of them coming from Adrián in goal, and 3 from James Tomkins at centre half.

The images below show the passes received by Sakho and Valencia last night, and Cole against Southampton. Instantly, you can see that the service received by Sakho and Valencia was of a far greater frequency and quality than that received by Carlton.

As I mentioned at the beginning, our defensive resolve was almost non existent last night.

James Tomkins and Aaron Cresswell will take the blame for the goals we conceded last night, but, in truth, it was a poor performance all round from the defence.

Our success in recent years has been built upon the platform of a solid defence. However, this defence has always been shielded by two defensive midfielders - Noble and Matthew Taylor excelled in those roles last season. Last night, we operated with one main defensive midfielder (Mark Noble), whilst Cheikhou Kouyaté pushed further up the field. This, coupled with the added attacking requirements placed on Cresswell and Demel, meant that our centre defence was left exposed and outnumbered regularly.

However, despite the fact that our defensive shape left a little (a lot) to be desired, we actually coped rather well with most of what Hull threw at us. The disappointing thing from a West Ham perspective was that both of the Hull goals came from individual errors.

James Tomkins doesn't officially get a defensive error listed against him for the first goal, but to most viewers, his marking of Abel Hernandez was pretty awful. The leap and finish was rather impressive, but it was the only aerial duel that the Uruguayan won last night (seen in the image below), and Tomkins will feel he should have done better.

The second goal was a far more obvious mistake, and only Aaron Cresswell will know what he was thinking by throwing the ball 25 yards in field to Cheikhou Kouyaté, when the defence was incredible exposed and Mohamed Diamé was lurking.

We shouldn't be discussing throw ins at this level, but, alas, the image below shows Cresswell's throw ins last night. You can see that 10 of the 11 were thrown either short or down the line, and those 10 all went straight to a team mate. The one that bucks the trend was the bizarre decision to throw infield.

Key Player
This is actually quite an easy choice. Whilst we had a number of solid performances, Stewart Downing was by far the best player on the park, for me.

Operating in a unfamiliar central position, the former England winger was exceptional. On the night, Downing created 6 goalscoring opportunities, had four goes on goal himself, and completed a massive 95% of his passes.

The image below shows the chances created by Downing last night. What is immediately evident is that only one came from a cross into the box, with the other 5 offering a demonstration in his range of creative passing.

And it's easy to see why Downing had such an impact by looking at his heat map below. Usually, one of the flanks is littered with darker patches from where the number 11 patrols the wings, rarely venturing elsewhere.

However, last night, Downing was rarely in the same place twice, popping up all over the park, going from right to left to centre with huge variation and regularity. This unpredictability meant no Hull midfielder was able to pick him up consistently, and created huge pockets of space for him to utilise, which he did to great effect.

All in all, this was a good performance that deserved more than just a point.

Hopefully the introduction of Alex Song into the diamond will add an increased level of solidity to our defensive play, and will shore up what has been a rather shaky defensive start to the season.

Either way, this performance certainly provides cause for optimism for West Ham fans.

 General Play 
4-4-2 Formation 4-1-2-1-2
(2) Allan McGregor - Adrián (2)
(21) Ahmed Elmohamady - Guy Demel (-6)
(53) Michael Dawson - James Tomkins (-1)
(23) Curtis Davies - Winston Reid (0)
(-12) Andrew Robertson - Aaron Cresswell (-41)
(21) Jake Livermore - Mark Noble (29)
(11) Tom Huddlestone - Cheikhou Kouyaté (1)
(32) Mohamed Diamé - Stewart Downing (67)
(-18) Stephen Quinn - Mauro Zárate (15)
(-12) Nikica Jelavic - Diafra Sakho (14)
(42) Abel Hernandez - Enner Valencia (47)

(8) Robbie Brady - Alex Song (25)
(6) Gaston Ramirez - Carl Jenkinson (6)
(0) Hatem Ben Arfa - Morgan Amalfitano (9)

Best Performance
(53) Michael Dawson - Stewart Downing (67)

Worst Performance
(-18) Stephen Quinn - Aaron Cresswell (-41)

44% Possession 56%

307 Passes Attempted 461
Tom Huddlestone 40 Most Attempted 65 Mark Noble

78% Passing Accuracy 81%
58% In Opp. Half 65%
Mohamed Diamé 94% Best Accuracy (min. 15 passes) 96% Alex Song

54 Long Balls 44
18% % Long Balls 10%
Michael Dawson 10 Most Long Balls (excl. GK) 12 Aaron Cresswell

Most Frequent Pass Combination
Robertson to Quinn 14 - 18 Downing to Cresswell

 16 Aerial Duels Won 15 
 52% Success 48% 
Curtis Davies 6 Most Won 4 Winston Reid

Andrew Robertson 74 Most Touches 83 Aaron Cresswell

 Offensive Play 
11 Attempts on Goal 16
6 On Target 4
4 Off Target 4
1 Blocked 8
64% From Outside the Box 63%
Abel Hernandez 4 Most Shots 4 Stewart Downing

7 Key Passes 14
Ahmed Elmohamady 2 Most Key Passes 6 Stewart Downing

22 Crosses 32
Andrew Robertson 7 Most Attempted 8 Stewart Downing

6 Successful Crosses 7
27% Success 22%
Ahmed Elmohamady 2 Most Successful 2 Stewart Downing

10 Take Ons Attempted 31
6 Successful Take Ons 16
60% Success 52%
Hatem Ben Arfa 1 Most Successful Take Ons 5 Guy Demel

 Defensive Play 
52 Tackles Attempted 24
20 Successful Tackles 10
38% Success 42%
Mohamed Diamé 6 Most Tackles 4 Mark Noble

54 Clearances 27
Curtis Davies 17 Most Clearances 11 James Tomkins

27 Interceptions 8
Michael Dawson 6 Most Interceptions 2 Alex Song

8 Shot Blocks 1
Michael Dawson 5 Most Shot Blocks 1 Aaron Cresswell

 12 Fouls 7 
Jake Livermore 3 Most Fouls 2 Cheikhou Kouyaté

3 Yellow Cards 1
Hull City:  Tom Huddlestone,  Andrew Robertson,  Jake Livermore 
West Ham United:  Winston Reid   

0 Red Cards 0
Hull City:     
West Ham United:     

 Head to Heads 
Allan McGregor vs Adrián
2 Squawka Rating 2

2 Goals Conceded 2
3 Saves 4
4 Claims 2
4 Successful Claims 2
100% Success 100%

24 Total Distribution 32
12 Accurate 18
50% Success 56%

7 Goal Kicks 6
1 Accurate 4
14% Success 67%
3 Throw Outs 6
3 Accurate 6
100% Success 100%

0 Kick from Hand 1
0 Accurate 0
0% Success 0%
14 Other 19
8 Accurate 8
57% Success 42%

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

Nikica Jelavic 4 Most Passed To 5 James Tomkins
Curtis Davies 6 Most Passes From 6 James Tomkins

Michael Dawson vs James Tomkins
53 Squawka Rating -1

7 Aerial Duels 5
4 Duels Won 3
57% Success 60%
1 Tackles Attempted 3
1 Tackles Completed 1
100% Success 33%
14 Clearances 11
6 Interceptions 0
5 Blocks 0
0 6yrd Blocks 0
0 Errors Leading to Shot 0
0 Errors Leading to Goal 0
26 Passes Attempted 53
19 Successful 44
73% Success 83%
1 Crosses Attempted 0
1 Successful 0
100% Success 0%
0 Key Passes 0
0 Attempts on Goal 2
0 On Target 0
0 Goals 0
Andrew Robertson 6 Most Passed To 10 Mark Noble
Ahmed Elmohamady 7 Most Passes From 13 Guy Demel

Mohamed Diamé vs Stewart Downing
32 Squawka Rating 67

17 Passes Attempted 60
16 Successful 57
94% Success 95%
0 Key Passes 6
0 Assists 1
2 Attempts on Goal 2
1 On Target 1
1 Goals 0
0 Take Ons Attempted 0
0 Take Ons Successful 0
0% Success 0%
1 Crosses Attempted 8
0 Successful 2
0% Success 25%
9 Tackles Attempted 1
5 Tackles Completed 0
56% Success 0%
0 Clearances 1
2 Interceptions 0
1 Blocks 0
0 6yrd Blocks 0
0 Errors Leading to Shot 0
0 Errors Leading to Goal 0
Amhed Elmohamady 3 Most Passed To 18 Aaron Cresswell
Stephen Quinn 4 Most Passes From 18 Aaron Cresswell

Abel Hernandez vs Enner Valencia
42 Squawka Rating 47

4 Attempts on Goal 3
3 On Target 3
1 Goals 1
28 Touches 35
5 in Penalty Area 9
18% % Penalty Area 26%

0 Key Passes 1
0 Assists 0
15 Passes Attempted 15
12 Successful 12
80% Success 80%
2 Take Ons 9
0 Successful Take Ons 3
0% Success 33%
3 Aerial Duels 5
1 Duels Won 2
33% Success 40%
Nikica Jelavic 3 Most Passed To 3 Diafra Sakho
Ahmed Elmohamady 3 Most Passes From 6 Stewart Downing

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