Friday, 28 February 2014

Everton vs West Ham United

Saturday1st March 2014
Goodison Park

Everton vs West Ham United

It's amazing what a few wins on the bounce can do do a side isn't it?

Only a matter of weeks ago, fans and pundits were predicting the end of Sam Allardyce's West Ham tenure - now they are campaigning for him to win manager of the month.

Football is all about the now, and small margins.

Last time we came up against Everton, we fell to a last gasp 3-2 defeat, thanks to two top class Leighton Baines free kicks, a Mark Noble red card, and a real display of bravery from Romelu Lukaku. Small margins.

Key Player
Lukaku is back this weekend (typically), but, in my opinion, he isn't the main threat that Everton pose. For me, that accolade goes to Lukaku's compatriot Kevin Mirallas.

The Belgian winger has been in glittering form for the Toffees this season, having either created or scored 10 goals in the league so far. Mirallas has created a massive 51 chances for his team mates this season, proving what a consistent attacking force he can be. 

Mirallas has featured in every Premier League game under Roberto Martinez this season, with the majority of his appearances coming off the right wing. Although the Belgian can play on both flanks, he tends to stay wider when on the right, often displaying his crossing ability. 

49% (25) of the chances Mirallas has created this season have come from the right flank, and 4 of his 5 assists have come when playing in that position. The image below shows most prolific creative performance this season, against Hull City.

The winger created six chances against Hull, with five of those coming on the right of the penalty box.

Mirallas creative record has improved on last season, when he created 43 chances and managed just three assists in his 27 league appearances. And his record this season could have improved even further.

The winger has been guilty of wastefulness and being a bit of a ball hog on occasion this season - often going for glory instead of picking out an easy pass for a team mate. In the recent game against Norwich, Mirallas may have bagged a goal, but he only hit the target with one of his six attempts, as displayed below.

 But it's just that attacking intent that makes him such a dangerous opponent to face. Mirallas has helped himself to five goals this season, with three of those coming from significant range.

If West Ham are to get anything out of this game, we will need to keep the unpredictable Belgian quiet.

How to Stop Everton
At Goodison Park this season, Everton have only lost one league game - against Sunderland when they lost Tim Howard to an early red card.

So how exactly do you stop Everton from beating you?

Well, only the traditional 'big' teams have managed to come away with even a point from Goodison in the Premier League, with the exceptions of Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion.

The West Brom game (0-0, back in August) is probably the best example of how West Ham can gain something on Saturday afternoon. Everton had 62% of the possession that day, but failed to trouble the score sheet.

Then West Brom manager Steve Clarke set his side up with the intention of stifling Robert Martinez possession based game. West Brom sat deep, and compacted the midfielder. This meant the Toffees spent the majority of the game passing the ball around at arms length of the Baggies penalty area.

The image below shows West Brom's average positions from that game. As you can see, Claudio Yacob (#5) sat deep in between the centre backs to provide additional protection to the back four. On top of this, Youssuf Mulumbu (#21), James Morrison (#7), Markus Rosenberg (#8) and Shane Long (#9) all played very centrally, meaning Everton's central midfielders had less time to pick out passes for their forward players.

The result of the Baggies approach was that Everton struggled to create chances. The image below shows that the Toffees failed to get the ball into the danger area to punish West Brom.

It seems to me, that West Ham's best chance of a result is to keep doing what we've been doing. Everton will have most of the ball - but we're used to that now. Biding our time and defending patiently and resolutely will be our most likely means of securing points this weekend.

Weakest Link
Up until yesterday I wasn't sure who could be considered Everton's weakest link. All of their players have performed very well this season, and their home record has been fantastic. However, with the news that Phil Jagielka is out injured, the obvious weak link in the chain is his replacement. 

Either youngster John Stones, or Paraguayan Alvaro Alcaraz will step in for the England defender to partner Sylvain Distin, and neither defender has anything like the quality of Jagielka.

It might seem a touch harsh on Stones to call him a weak link, particularly as the former Barnsley defender has won 57% of his attempted tackles, and 67% of his headed duels. However, Stones has only racked up 10 Premier League appearances since his move from the Yorkshire club.

This inexperience could lead to mistakes, and with the likes of Kevin Nolan, Carlton Cole and Andy Carroll likely to come up against him if he comes into the side, Stones will be a clearly vulnerable member of the Everton side.

However, West Ham fans should be hoping that former Wigan defender Alcaraz is the man to step into the side. Alcaraz followed Martinez from Wigan in the summer, and has been a poor acquisition to date.

Injuries have restricted him to just 3 league appearances, and when he has featured he has looked far from assured. The image below shows Alcaraz's duels this season. He has completed just 43% of his tackles, and has a very poor aerial success rate, winning just 3 of his 12 duels.

Should Andy Carroll return to the side tomorrow, he will be licking his lips at the prospect of coming up against either Stones of Alcaraz in the place of Jagielka.

For me, Carroll must play. His presence could allow us to unsettle an already unfamiliar centre back pairing, and could allow us the opportunity to get an early goal.

When Everton get into their flow, and they will, West Ham will need to stay compact and resolute. And try and keep the ball away from Mirallas.

 Head to Head 
50% Head to Head Win % 28%
64 Won 36
27 Drawn 27
36 Lost 64
218 Goals Scored 148
148 Goals Conceded 218

 Recent Form 
W L W L W L Last 6 L D W W W W
9 Goals Scored 9
8 Goals Conceded 4
L W W W W W Home/Away Form L L L W D W
13 Goals Scored 5
4 Goals Conceded 13
 Form Player (excl. GK) 
 (Last 6 League) 
James Tomkins - Kevin Mirallas
5 Appearances 6
450 Minutes Played 555
178 Sum Squawka Performance Score 196
36 Average Squawka Performance Rating 33
73 Passes Attempted 157
64 Completed 140
88% Success Rate 89%
0 Chances Created 15
0 Assists 0
3 Attempts on Goal 12
1 On Target 4
0 Goals 3

0 Take Ons Attempted 19
0 Successful Take Ons 11
0% Success Rate 58%
11 Tackles Made 6
6 Successful Tackles 4
55% Success Rate 67%
8 Interceptions 0
50 Clearances 2
4 Blocks 0
12 Defensive Actions Per Game 0
19 Aerial Duels 7
12 Won 0
63% Success Rate 0%

 Defensive Errors 
 Leading to a Goal 
 Last Meeting 
21 September 2013
1-0 Ravel Morrison 31'
1-1 Leighton Baines 62'
2-1 Mark Noble 77'
2-2 Leighton Baines 83'
2-3 Romelu Lukaku 85'

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

Tim Howard - Jussi Jääskeläinen
Seamus Coleman - Joey O'Brien
Phil Jagielka - James Collins
Sylvain Distin - Winston Reid
Leighton Baines - Rǎzvan Raţ
(52') Leon Osman - Mark Noble
Gareth Barry - Ravel Morrison
(45') Steven Naismith - Mohamed Diamé
Ross Barkley - Kevin Nolan (80')
Kevin Mirallas - Matt Jarvis (72')
(45') Nikica Jelavic - Modibo Maïga (63)

Joel Robles - Adrián
John Heitenga - George McCartney
(52') Bryan Oviedo - James Tomkins
John Stones - Jack Collison
(45') James McCarthy - Ricardo Vâz Te (72')
Gerard Deulofeu - Matthew Taylor (80')
(45') Romelu Lukaku - Mladen Petrić (63')

Everton: Antolin Alcaraz, Bryan Oviedo, Darron Bigson, Arouna Koné, Lacina Traore
West Ham United: Joey O'Brien, Ricardo Vâz Te, Marco Borriello

Everton: n/a
West Ham United: n/a

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

  Tim Howard

  Seamus Coleman  Phil Jagielka  Sylvain Distin  Leighton Baines

  James McCarthy  Gareth Barry

  Kevin Mirallas (75')  Leon Osman (63')  Steven Pienaar (80')

  Steven Naismith

Joel Robles
  Tony Hibbert
  John Stones
Luke Garbutt
  Aiden McGeady (80')
  Gerard Deulofeu (75')
  Ross Barkley (63')
 Best Player: Sylvain Distin
 Squawka Rating: 23
 Worst Player: Ross Barkley
 Squawka Rating: -22
 Top 5's (Min 5 Apps) 
 Goals Scored 
Romelu Lukaku 9 - 7 Kevin Nolan
Seamus Coleman 5 - 6 Carlton Cole
Kevin Mirallas 5 - 3 Joe Cole
Leighton Baines 3 - 3 Ravel Morrison*
Gareth Barry 3 - 3 Mohamed Diamé

Romelu Lukaku 5 - 5 Kevin Nolan
Kevin Mirallas 5 - 3 Andy Carroll
James McCarthy 3 - 3 Matt Jarvis
Gareth Barry 3 - 2 Mohamed Diamé
Leon Osman 3 - 2 Stewart Downing

 Passing Accuracy 
John Stones 90% - 83% Mark Noble
Leon Osman 88% - 82% Stewart Downing
Leighton Baines 87% - 81% Jack Collison
Seamus Coleman 87% - 80% Joe Cole
James McCarthy 86% - 79% Joey O'Brien

 Chances Created per game 
Kevin Mirallas 2 - 1.9 Stewart Downing
Steven Pienaar 1.4 - 1.6 Mark Noble
James McCarthy 1.3 - 1.1 Matt Jarvis
Leighton Baines 1.3 - 1 Kevin Nolan
Gareth Barry 1.2 - 0.6 Mohamed Diamé

 Successful Dribbles per game 
Ross Barkley 2.5 - 1.9 Mohamed Diamé
Seamus Coleman 1.9 - 1.2 Mark Noble
Kevin Mirallas 1.5 - 0.9 Stewart Downing
Leighton Baines 1.4 - 0.8 Guy Demel
Gerard Deulofeu 1.4 - 0.5 Joe Cole

 Tackles per game 
James McCarthy 3.4 - 2.8 Mark Noble
Bryan Oviedo 3.2 - 2.4 Mohamed Diamé
Gareth Barry 3 - 2.2 James Collins
Leighton Baines 2.9 - 1.9 Kevin Nolan
Seamus Coleman 2.2 - 1.8 Matthew Taylor

 Aerial Duels Won per game 
Romelu Lukaku 2.9 - 4.1 James Tomkins
Phil Jagielka 2.8 - 3.5 James Collins
Sylvain Distin 2.7 - 2.6 Carlton Cole
Gareth Barry 1.3 - 2.5 Winston Reid
Steven Naismith 1.3 - 1.8 George McCartney

Roberto Martinez - Sam Allardyce
51.6% Current Club Win % 41.6%
16 Won 52
9 Drawn 32
6 Lost 41
39.0% Managerial Career Win % 40%
130 Won 346
93 Drawn 231
110 Lost 288

3 Clubs Managed 7
1 League Titles 2
1 Cup Wins 0
Swansea City First Managerial Role Preston North End
24/02/2007 Start Date 30/09/1992
7y 5d Experience 21y 151d

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

West Ham United 3 - 1 Southampton

Boleyn Ground

West Ham United vs Southampton
0-1 Maya Yoshida 8'
1-1 Matt Jarvis 20'
2-1 Carlton Cole 23'
3-1 Kevin Nolan 71'

Didn't see that coming!

After a fabulous February, we now sit joint top of the form table with Liverpool, having collected 13 points from our last 5 games. A remarkable return for a side that had managed just 18 points in the first 22 games of the season.

I said before the game, and I'm happy to admit it again and again, that I'm a big fan of the way Southampton play football. I like the triangles, but I like that they have more intent than the likes of Swansea City.

However, you've got to hand it to him, Sam Allardyce knew exactly how to deal with them on Saturday afternoon. Usually I pick out a few players who impressed me, but Saturday was all about the tactics.

Okay, so Southampton had about 70% of the possession. But what did they do with it? West Ham were happy to let the Saints have the ball and sit and wait for the opportunity to break. Despite possessing some wonderfully creative players, they didn't know how to get through our stubborn defence (and isn't it funny that the only way they managed to score was from a set piece and header? 19th century football, that is!).

Look at the heat maps below.

You can see that we were most busy in our own area (first chart), but look at how little possession Southampton had in our box. Essentially, they had as much ball as they wanted up to the 18 yard line, and then if they entered the box, we took over.

When West Ham did have the ball, there was a clear plan of attack too. Adam Lallana is a very gifted footballer, there's no disputing that. However, playing him off the right flank leaves the right back very exposed, and a young fullback like Calum Chambers is a vulnerable target for an experienced left wing pairing like George McCartney and Stewart Downing.

The charts below show the average positions for each side. As you can see, Lallana (#20) was very central for Southampton, leaving Chambers (#22) as the lone representative down the right wing for the Saints.

As a result, West Ham were able to target the left channel to build pressure during the game, with 53% of our attacks coming from that side.

I think possibly the most obvious contrast between the two sides style of play was demonstrated by the two left backs.

Again, nobody is disputing that Luke Shaw is going to be a fantastic left back, and nobody is saying that George McCartney is better than him. However, the two fullbacks had very different approaches to the game on Saturday, and completed reflected the two sides approaches.

The image below shows both McCartney and Shaw's attempted passes from the game (the claret/red are McCartney, and the grey are Shaw).

What you can clearly see, is that whenever McCartney got the ball, his first thought was to get it up the left flank and link up with Stewart Downing. Shaw, on the other hand, often turned inside and played the ball into the middle of midfield to Morgan Schneiderlin.

In fact, McCartney played 10 successful passes to Downing during the game - the most by any West Ham pair. Shaw played inside to Schneiderlin 9 times, his highest combination.

This contrast reflects two things. Firstly, West Ham's desire to get the ball forward early doesn't necessarily mean a long ball to a centre forward. Our most regular pass combinations are almost always from fullback to winger, displaying our intent to go wide with regularity.

Secondly, playing the likes of Jay Rodriguez as a left winger is great when you are able to press high up the pitch. When you aren't it just means the fullback has a lack of opportunity to go down the line.

The final point to make, is that Kevin Nolan was the most effective offensive player on the park.

The West Ham skipper may have only attempted 16 passes, but he completed 14 of them, getting an assist on the way, and managed to bag himself to final goal of the game.

The image below shows his passing map from the game. To those who say the Scouser is poor on the ball, look at the range of some of them. He isn't your tika-taka short passing and ball retention midfielder, but he is able to keep hold of the ball, and he is able to play a variety of passes - as demonstrated by his superb through ball for Matt Jarvis' equaliser.

All in all, a good day at the office to round of a sensational month.

I know Sam says he doesn't want the Manager of the Month award, but he's certain to get it - four wins from four, and he's the only manager to achieve that this month.

 General Play 
4-2-3-1 Formation 4-2-3-1
(6) Adrián - Artur Boruc (-30)
(-28) Guy Demel - Calum Chambers (-30)
(11) James Collins - Jose Fonte (6)
(19) James Tomkins - Maya Yoshida (39)
(-4) George McCartney - Luke Shaw (4)
(5) Mark Noble - Morgan Schneiderlin (44)
(-8) Matthew Taylor - Jack Cork (26)
(5) Matt Jarvis - Adam Lallana (22)
(41) Kevin Nolan - Steven Davis (37)
(23) Stewart Downing - Jay Rodriguez (-4)
(15) Carlton Cole - Rickie Lambert (17)

(-12) Mohamed Diamé - Gaston Ramirez (43)
(6) Winston Reid - James Ward-Prowse (14)
()  - Sam Gallagher (1)

Best Performance
(41) Kevin Nolan - Morgan Schneiderlin (44)

Worst Performance
(-28) Guy Demel - Calum Chambers (-30)

33% Possession 67%

212 Passes Attempted 537
Mark Noble 33 Most Attempted 92 Steven Davis

65% Passing Accuracy 86%
53% In Opp. Half 79%
Kevin Nolan 88% Best Accuracy (min. 15 passes) 96% Gaston Ramirez

52 Long Balls 58
25% % Long Balls 11%
James Collins 5 Most Long Balls (excl. GK) 9 Morgan Schneiderlin

Most Frequent Pass Combination
McCartney to Downing 10 - 20 Cork to Davis

 7 Aerial Duels Won 14 
 33% Success 67% 
Carlton Cole 4 Most Won 4 Jose Fonte

George McCartney 59 Most Touches 100 Steven Davis

 Offensive Play 
10 Attempts on Goal 25
5 On Target 5
4 Off Target 13
1 Blocked 7
40% From Outside the Box 40%
Carlton Cole 3 Most Shots 5 Adam Lallana

7 Key Passes 19
Stewart Downing 2 Most Key Passes 4 Adam Lallana

28 Crosses 33
Stewart Downing 15 Most Attempted 7 Adam Lallana

7 Successful Crosses 7
25% Success 21%
Stewart Downing 5 Most Successful 2 Adam Lallana

9 Take Ons Attempted 14
3 Successful Take Ons 9
33% Success 64%
James Collins 1 Most Take Ons 6 Adam Lallana

 Defensive Play 
31 Tackles Attempted 15
12 Successful Tackles 10
39% Success 67%
Mohamed Diamé 4 Most Tackles 2 Gaston Ramirez

42 Clearances 47
James Collins 6 Most Clearances 14 Jose Fonte

9 Interceptions 9
James Tomkins 3 Most Clearances 3 Morgan Schneiderlin

7 Shot Blocks 1
Matthew Taylor 2 Most Shot Blocks 1 Jose Fonte

 10 Fouls 8 
Carlton Cole 3 Most Fouls 2 Rickie Lambert

0 Yellow Cards 1
West Ham United:     
Southampton:  Adam Lallana   

0 Red Cards 0
West Ham United:     

 Head to Heads 
Adrián vs Artur Boruc
1 Goals Conceded 3
4 Saves 2
5 Claims 1
5 Successful Claims 1
100% Success 100%

33 Total Distribution 26
14 Accurate 19
42% Success 73%

16 Goal Kicks 7
9 Accurate 4
56% Success 57%
2 Throw Outs 6
2 Accurate 6
100% Success 100%

3 Kick from Hand 1
1 Accurate 1
33% Success 100%
12 Other 12
2 Accurate 8
17% Success 67%

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

Carlton Cole 10 Most Passed To 6 Jose Fonte
Mark Noble 2 Most Passes From 4 Jose Fonte

George McCartney vs Luke Shaw
3 Aerial Duels 0
2 Duels Won 0
67% Success 0%
1 Tackles Attempted 2
0 Tackles Completed 2
0% Success 100%
8 Clearances 5
1 Interceptions 1
0 Blocks 0
0 6yrd Blocks 0
0 Errors Leading to Shot 0
0 Errors Leading to Goal 0
29 Passes Attempted 31
17 Successful 24
59% Success 77%
1 Crosses Attempted 4
0 Successful 1
0% Success 25%
0 Chances Created 1
0 Attempts on Goal 2
0 On Target 1
0 Goals 0
Stewart Downing 10 Most Passed To 9 Morgan Schneiderlin
Stewart Downing 5 Most Passes From 7 Morgan Schneiderlin

Kevin Nolan vs Adam Lallana
16 Passes Attempted 38
14 Successful 35
88% Success 92%
1 Key Passes 4
1 Assists 0
2 Attempts on Goal 5
2 On Target 1
1 Goals 0
0 Take Ons Attempted 6
0 Take Ons Successful 5
0% Success 83%
4 Tackles Attempted 3
0 Tackles Completed 2
0% Success 67%
2 Clearances 0
0 Interceptions 0
0 Blocks 0
0 6yrd Blocks 0
0 Errors Leading to Shot 0
0 Errors Leading to Goal 0
Guy Demel 3 Most Passed To 7 Calum Chambers
Matthew Taylor 3 Most Passes From 10 Steven Davis

Carlton Cole vs Rickie Lambert
3 Attempts on Goal 3
1 On Target 1
1 Goals 0
1 Key Passes 2
0 Assists 0
21 Passes Attempted 27
10 Successful 21
48% Success 78%
0 Take Ons 0
0 Sucecssful Take Ons 0
0% Success 0%
10 Aerial Duels 1
3 Duels Won 1
30% Success 100%
Stewart Downing 4 Most Passed To 6 Steven Davis
Adrián 10 Most Passes From 6 Adam Lallana