Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Player Comparison: Joe Cole vs Ricardo Vâz Te

Joe Cole vs Ricardo Vâz Te
31 Age 26
26 Squad Number 12
5'9" Height 6'2"

West Ham United Career
04/01/2013 Joined 31/01/2012
Liverpool From Barnsley
Free Transfer Reported Fee £750,000

134(24) Appearances 35(8)
15 Goals 14

02/01/1999 Debut 04/02/2012
Swansea City vs Millwall

30/11/1999 Debut Goal 21/02/2012
Birmingham City vs Blackpool

Throughout the course of a rather successful season for West Ham almost all positions in the side have been nailed down by certain players. I think in any given game, it’s possible to name at least 9 of the likely starters.

One position that doesn’t feel quite so secure though, is on the right wing. A few players have been tried there this season, Jack Collison, Gary O’Neil, Modibo Maïga, Matthew Taylor, Yossi Benayoun, even Kevin Nolan had a go (he was rubbish at it though!).

However, two players seem to have moved to the front of the queue. Last season’s play off hero Ricardo Vâz Te and the recently returned academy graduate Joe Cole.

Both Cole and Vâz Te have had highs and lows in a West Ham shirt this season, but who has impressed more, and do we need to move into the market for a new option when the transfer window opens again in a month’s time?

In terms of their performances this season, both players are rather evenly matched; just 1 point separates their Capello Index ratings this season. Each player has areas in which they outperform one another. Vâz Te, for example, attempts more shots on goal per game than Cole, he also beats his man more regularly, wins more free kicks and carries out more defensive work.

The image below shows Ricardo's success in duels this season. 

On the other hand, Cole creates more chances for his team mates, has a higher crossing accuracy, swings in significantly more crosses per game, and has a higher passing accuracy. The chart below shows the chances created by Joe since joining West Ham (Yellow = Chances Created; Blue = Assists (League Only)).

Both players are regarded as flair players, exciting outlets who can surprise us all, but they each have a distinctly different style of play. It is not uncommon to see Cole spend time roaming in off the right flank, getting in and around the lone striker and looking to feed through passes (he plays more through balls per game than any other player), whilst Vâz Te seems to spend more time out wide ready to take on a fullback, usually only coming inside when a shooting opportunity has presented itself.

According to the Capello Index rating system, Cole’s best West Ham performance this season came at home against Queens Park Rangers, whilst Vâz Te’s came in the recent two all draw with Manchester United.

The images below show each players action zones in these games (Cole first, Vâz Te second). As you can see, both players made the majority of their touches in the right wing area, but the distribution of their play in other areas is very different.

Cole, for example, takes a number of touches in the central midfield area, also popping up on the left. Vâz Te, for example, spends far more time out wide, but also took a higher proportion of touches back defending than Cole.


Other than individual performance, the next area of consideration is how the team performs with them in the side. Sometimes a player can seem to offer nothing to a team, but when they are removed from the side you notice that they have an influence in their team mates or the style of play that you wouldn’t have even thought about, Lucas Neill is a good example of this.

I decided to look at some stats of how the team performed whilst each player was on the pitch, and I’ve been somewhat surprised at the results. Interestingly, we seem to do better at home with Vâz Te, and better away with Cole.

At home we score more goals, take more shots, concede less and complete a higher proportion of our passes when Ricardo is on the pitch. Away from home, we score more, shoot more, and cross more when Joe is playing, though we concede less and have a better passing accuracy with Vâz Te.

So, a conclusion. It’s a tough one, I have to say. I like Vâz Te. I’ll always remember his goals last season, he’s had moments of real quality this season, and his pace and willingness to take on his man make him an exciting player to have around.

Joe Cole, on the other hand is a hero. He was my idol in my early teens, and I cried when he left for West London ten years ago. His homecoming was one of those moments in football that make you feel like a kid again.

If we could mix together the two then we’d be made, but, unless someone can tell me otherwise, there isn’t a Ricardjoe Vaz Cole playing anywhere currently.

If push came to shove and I could only keep one, I’d keep Cole. Vâz Te’s best moments can be absolutely wonderful, but they are few and far between. In his worst moments he can be awful, and that is the main difference between him and Joe. When Cole is having a bad game, you can still rely on him to pick that one pass, put in that one cross to change the game. When Vaz is playing badly, you probably wouldn’t even know he was on the pitch.

But, if truth be told, if I were sat in Sam Allardyce’s shoes in after the final whistle is blown against Reading, I think I’d be out looking for a new right winger.

(League Only)
6(2) Appearances 16(6)
2 Goals 2
0 Assists 4

63.23 Average CI Rating 62.23

Offensive Play
10 Attempts 40
1.3 per App 1.8

15 Chances Created 25
1.9 per App 1.1

64 Crosses 57
19 Successful 14
30% Accuracy 25%

3 Successful Dribbles 17
0.4 per App 0.8

209 Passes Attempted 479
167 Successful 347
80% Accuracy 72%

6 Fouled 28
0.8 per App 1.3

Defensive Play
6 Tackles 29
0.8 per App 1.3

5 Interceptions 22
0.6 per App 1.0

2 Clearances 22
0.3 per App 1.0

6 Fouls 18
0.8 per App 0.8

2 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 0

42 Misplaced Passes 132
5.3 per App 6.0

3 Turnovers 27
0.4 per App 1.2

19 Dispossessed 26
2.4 per App 1.2

64 Total Lost Possession 185
8.0 per App 8.4

Monday, 29 April 2013

Manchester City 2 - 1 West Ham United

Saturday 27th April
Etihad Stadium

Manchester City vs West Ham United
1-0 Sergio Agüero 28'
2-0 Yaya Touré 83'
2-1 Andy Carroll 94'

Yeah, so, alright. We lost. That's what will go down in the record books, because that is what happened.

However, there was a lot to be pleased about on Saturday lunchtime. Had it not been for a moment of pure inspiration from a world class talent in Yaya Touré, I think we would have gone on to snatch a point at the home of the recently dethroned champions.

I could sit here and type about Man City and how good they are, but I don't want to. Instead, I want to talk about West Ham. I thought that we, particularly in the second half, were excellent.

The increased quality of play in the second half is reflected by Opta's player influence tool. Based in a number of different actions, the more influence a player has on the game, the bigger their name is in the following images. The first image shows the first half, and the second shows the second half.

These images perfectly illustrate the change in tactic that West Ham employed in the second half. Matt Jarvis, Andy Carroll, Gary O'Neil, and the excellent Guy Demel's influence after the break is clear to see.

Something that particularly impressed me on Saturday was the amount of pressing West Ham attempted. Often in away games this year, we've seen the side sit deep and soak up pressure. At the Etihad, however, every player put a shift in, tackling all over the pitch.

Both Mohamed Diamé and Winston Reid put in six tackles each on Saturday, and each of the attacking foursome (Carroll, Nolan, Jarvis & Vaz Te) successfully recorded tackles too.

It wasn't just the tackling that was impressive from a defensive point of view. When City did make it through the defence, they were met with some superb defending, with three of the best blocks you will see all season keeping them at bay.

The image below shows the positions of the shots that were blocked. As you can see, all three shots were from incredibly dangerous positions, and all three were heroically blocked by our defence.

But it wasn't just defensively that West Ham impressed. We created our fair share of chances too. This was a typical attacking performance from West Ham. 33 crosses into the box, 12 of which reached their mark. Matt Jarvis was accurate with 5 of his 11 crosses, and it was a tactic that City found difficult to cope with.

West Ham played exactly to their strengths on Saturday, as seen below. The image shows the passes that led directly the chances created by West Ham. As you can see, only one of these passes came from a central position, with the wide approach paying dividends. The deepest cross on the right flank came from Guy Demel, and was his assist for Andy Carroll's goal.

I'd like to end with a word on Demel. He was much maligned last season, his injury troubles were there for all to see, and his shaky performance in the play off final led many Hammers (myself included) to put a right back at the top of their summer wishlist. This season, however, he has been excellent, and Saturday was yet another example of that. 

As a former fullback, I was paying particular attention to Pablo Zabaleta, one of the best right backs in the world, in my opinion. But the Argentine was completely outclassed by Demel on Saturday. The Ivorian was absolutely everywhere, solid in defence and dangerous in attack.

93% of his passes were accurate, none of them were long balls, and West Ham's most successful pass combination was Demel to O'Neil (13 passes).

The images below show Demel's heat map against Man City (where he took his touches), and his attempted passes during the game (Green = Successful; Red = Unsuccessful; Yellow = Chance Created). Both images show his workrate and effectiveness down the right wing. Easily my man of the match.

The only real negative from my point of view was the performance of Ricardo Vaz Te. I've felt that his performances since Joe Cole's injury have been excellent, but he really wasn't at the races on Saturday. With Cole back to fitness, I'd be surprised to see him in the side next weekend.

Whilst a loss isn't exactly what you want, I think there is a lot to be proud about from Saturday's performance. Effectively a dead rubber, the shackles seemed to loosen in the second half. If we play like that in the remaining three games, we might even manage to reach that 50 point mark.

General Play
4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1
27.6 Starting XI Ave. Age 28.1

Yaya Touré Best Performance Andy Carroll
76.99 CI Rating 65.37

Joe Hart Worst Performance Jack Collison
55.68 CI Rating 58.5

60% Possession 40%
(averaged from opta, prozone & squawka results)

88% Passing Accuracy 76%
82% in Opp. Half 67%
Joleon Lescott 94% Best Accuracy 93% Guy Demel

554 Passes Attempted 315
Yaya Touré 99 Most Passes Attempted 55 Gary O'Neil

36 Long Balls 41
Vincent Kompany 6 Most Long Balls (excl. GK) 11 Gary O'Neil

Offensive Play
17 Attempts on Goal 11
8 On Target 3
6 Off Target 4
3 Blocked 4
7 From Outside Box 1
Carlos Tévez 4 Most Attempts on Goal 6 Andy Carroll

9 Corners 4
3 Offsides 2

17 Crosses 33
2 Successful Crosses 12
David Silva 8 Most Crosses Attempted 11 Matt Jarvis

31% Aerial Success 69%
Vincent Kompany 4 Most Duels Won 10 Andy Carroll

Defensive Play
19 Tackles Attempted 25
15 Successful 22
Pablo Zabaleta 7 Most Tackles 6 Winston Reid

41 Clearances 28
Vincent Kompany 12 Most Clearances 8 James Collins

10 Interceptions 14
Gael Clichy 3 Most Interceptions 4 James Collins

4 Blocks 3
Joleon Lescott 2 Most Blocks 1 Joey O'Brien

9 Fouls 7
Gareth Barry 4 Most Fouls 2 Mohamed Diamé

1 Yellow Cards 3
Manchester City:  Pablo Zabaleta     
West Ham United:  Andy Carroll,  Jack Collison,  Joey O'Brien   
0 Red Cards 0
Manchester City:  -     
West Ham United:  -     

Head to Heads
Joe Hart vs Jussi Jääskeläinen
1 Goals Conceded 2
2 Saves 6
1 Crosses Claimed 0
64% Passing Accuracy 50%
14 Total Passes 12
9 Long Balls 10
64% % Long Ball 83%

Pablo Zabaleta vs Guy Demel
25% Aerial Dules Won 100%
7 Tackles 3
1 Blocks 1
1 Interceptions 0
6 Clearances 2
0 Fouls Committed 0

91% Passing Accuracy 93%
34 Total Passes 40
0 Long Balls 0
0% % Long Ball 0%
0 Assists 1

Yaya Touré vs Mohamed Diamé
93% Passing Accuracy 85%
99 Total Passes 27
3 Long Balls 0
3% % Long Ball 0%
1 Crosses 1
0 Successul Crosses 0
1 Chances Created 1
0 Assists 0

0 Tackles 6
0 Blocks 0
1 Interceptions 2
0 Clearances 1
1 Fouls Committed 2

1 Attempts on Goal 1
1 On Target 1
1 Goals 0

Sergio Agüero vs Andy Carroll
1 Goals Scored 1
4 Attempts on Goal 6
2 On Target 2
0% Aerial Duels Won 77%

77% Passing Accuracy 76%
30 Total Passes 34
3 Chances Created 0
0 Assists 0

Friday, 26 April 2013

Manchester City vs West Ham United

Saturday 27th April
Etihad Stadium

Manchester City vs West Ham United

Another victory last weekend means we are now up to five games unbeaten in the Premier League for the first time since 2008/09 season, when we managed six and Carlton Cole scored five goals in five games.

Manchester City though, are a formidable opponent, and the Etihad isn't the easiest place to visit. In fact, the last five visitors to Eastlands have gone away with nothing. In fact, the last time Manchester City lost at home was against Manchester United back at the start of December. And only one team has come away with a draw since then.

However, it is possible to get something from this game. West Ham should be buoyed by reaching the 40 point mark last weekend, and also the 0-0 draw secured against City at home.

Something that has been notable about City this season is that they have tended to boil over with frustration when things aren't going their way. In the early season stalemate, West Ham got about the opposition, putting in tackles all over the pitch, not allowing City's players to settle.

The image below shows those tackles, with green crosses indicating a successful challenge. West Ham also happened to win a very high proportion of tackles that day, successfully stifling the likes of Tevez and Dzeko in their attacks.

What we have seen from City, particularly in recent weeks, is a tendency to get a bit frustrated when struggling to create opportunities. When times are hard, a number of their players seem to resort to long range popshots, which tend to be easier to defend against.

Against Wigan, City had to wait until late in the game to secure a victory. The image below shows their attempted shots against Wigan. As you can see, a number of their attempts went off target, and the majority of attempts were some distance from the goal. Keeping City at an arm's length could be the best way to gain something from the game.

However, something West Ham will have to contend with against City that wasn't there in our last meeting, is natural width. In the game at the Boleyn, City played a very narrow game, with Gael Clichy the only player comfortable out wide.

You can see from the image below that the centre of the pitch became very congested with City players, which seemed to play into West Ham's hands. The width in the image is supplied by Clichy (# 22), Kolo Touré (# 28) and Gareth Barry (# 18).

However, in the last game against Spurs, City played a far more expansive game. Clichy was again left to provide the width alone down the left flank, but on the right we can see James Milner (# 7) in the right wing position. However, the player who is likely to make a real difference in the two City's West Ham will come up against this season is # 5, Pablo Zabaleta.

Against Spurs Zabaleta pushed up and supported his right winger, a common feature of his play this season.

In the recent victory over Manchester United, Zabaleta was possibly the outstanding player. The final image shows his action zones throughout that game.

As you can see, he spent an equal amount of time in the right wing position as he did in the right full back position. Perhaps more importantly though, is that the vast majority of his touches were taken on the right wing.

It's unlikely that West Ham will take anything from the Etihad on Saturday, but it's not impossible. I'd predict a deep, defensive game, focused on stopping the opposition from playing, rather than going out to take a victory.

As they say, you should always respect the point. But a point against City may be worth more than just that.

 Head to Head 
45% Head to Head Win % 38%
42 Won 35
16 Drawn 16
35 Lost 42
143 Goals Scored 138
138 Goals Conceded 143

 Recent Form 
L W W W W L Last 6 L W D D D W
10 Goals Scored 8
7 Goals Conceded 6
D W W W W W Home/Away Form L L W L D D
18 Goals Scored 4
2 Goals Conceded 8
Carlos Tévez Form Player Mohamed Diamé
68.04 Last 6 63.90
2 Goals Scored 1
0 Assists 0
24(5) Season (League) 62.76
24(5) Appearances 27(2)
11 Goals 3
7 Assists 0
51 Chances Created 21
1013 Passes 678
847 Passes Completed 573
83.6% % Completed 84.5%

 Last Meeting 
03 November 2012

4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1
Joe Hart - Jussi Jääskeläinen
Kolo Touré - Joey O'Brien
Vincent Kompany - James Collins
Matija Nastasic - Winston Reid
Gael Clichy - George McCartney
Yaya Touré - Mark Noble
Gareth Barry - Mohamed Diamé
Samir Nasri - Yossi Benayoun
Carlos Tévez - Kevin Nolan
Mario Balotelli - Matt Jarvis
Edin Dzeko - Andy Carroll

Carlos Tévez Best Player Jussi Jääskeläinen
67.13 CI Rating 66.35
Edin Dzeko Worst Player Gary O'Neil
58.11 CI Rating 58.08

Manchester City: James Milner, David Silva
West Ham United: George McCartney, James Tomkins

Manchester City: n/a
West Ham United: n/a

  Opposition Last Time Out:
vs Tottenham Hotspur
 Goals Scored: 1
 Goals Conceded: 3
 Starting Formation: 4-4-1-1

  Joe Hart

  Pablo Zabaletta  Vincent Kompany  Matija Nastasic  Gael Clichy

  James Milner  Yaya Touré  Gareth Barry  Samir Nasri

  Carlos Tévez

  Edin Dzeko

 Best Player: Samir Nasri
 CI Rating: 70.88
 Worst Player: Joe Hart
 CI Rating: 58.82
 Top 5's (min 5 apps) 
 Goals Scored 
Carlos Tevez 17 - 7 Kevin Nolan

Sergio Aguero 15 - 6 Andy Carroll
Edin Dzeko 13 - 4 Modibo Maïga
Yaya Touré 8 - 4 Mark Noble
Samir Nasri 5 - 3 Mohamed Diamé

David Silva 7 - 4 Joey O'Brien
Carlos Tevez 7 - 4 Ricardo Vâz Te
Yaya Toure 4 - 3 Gary O'Neil
James Milner 2 - 2 Mark Noble
Samir Nasri 5 - 2 Kevin Nolan

 Passing Accuracy 
Samir Nasri 90.5% - 84.5% Mohamed Diamé
Joleon Lescott 89.2% - 82.3% Mark Noble
Vincent Kompany 89.2% - 79.9% Joe Cole
Javi Garcia 89.1% - 79.8% George McCartney
Jack Rodwell 89% - 79.5% Kevin Nolan

 Chances Created per game 
David Silva 3.3 - 1.9 Joe Cole
Carlos Tevez 1.8 - 1.4 Matt Jarvis
James Milner 1.6 - 1.4 Andy Carroll
Samir Nasri 1.8 - 1.4 Mark Noble
Yaya Toure 1.5 - 1.4 Gary O'Neil

 Successful Dribbles per game 
Sergio Aguero 1.9 - 2.2 Mohamed Diamé
Yaya Toure 1.4 - 0.8 Guy Demel
Carlos Tevez 1.1 - 0.8 Ricardo Vâz Te
Samir Nasri 1 - 0.4 Joey O'Brien
David Silva 1 - 0.4 Matt Jarvis

 Tackles per game 
Pablo Zabaleta 3.8 - 3.7 Mark Noble
Gael Clichy 3.4 - 3.4 Mohamed Diamé
Vincent Kompany 2.2 - 2 James Collins
Gareth Barry 2 - 1.8 Winston Reid
Aleksandar Kolarov 1.7 - 1.8 George McCartney

 Aerial Duels Won per game 
Matija Nastasic 3.3 - 9.6 Andy Carroll
Edin Dzeko 2.8 - 4.2 Carlton Cole
Javi Garcia 2.1 - 3 James Collins
Gareth Barry 1.9 - 2.7 James Tomkins
Maicon 1.6 - 2.5 Winston Reid

Roberto Mancini - Sam Allardyce
59.3% Current Club Win % 43.3%
111 Won 39
37 Drawn 24
39 Lost 27
56.3% Managerial Career Win % 40.1%
306 Won 333
135 Drawn 223
102 Lost 273

4 League Titles 2
8 Cup Wins 0