Friday, 31 October 2014

Stoke City vs West Ham United

Saturday 1st November 2014
Britannia Stadium

Stoke City vs West Ham United

The longer our good streak continues the longer I'll be saying it, but this is a weekend where we will learn a lot about this West Ham side.

After defeating the reigning Champions last weekend, we now head over to the Potteries for the sort of test that many pretenders to the top half will crumble at.

Stoke have always been a very good side at the Britannia, incredibly difficult to beat, very physical, and capable of punishing teams.

This will be a tough game for West Ham, and one we would do very well to get something out of.

Key Player
Stoke are a side without any real stars or obvious stand out players.

Marko Arnautovic and Victor Moses can both be potent attacking sources, but are also a bit hit and miss. Ryan Shawcross and Marc Wilson are developing a formidable partnership in the heart of defence, whilst Glenn Whelan and Charlie Adam are both underrated midfielders in this division, capable of picking passes and mixing it in defence.

However, arguably the most talented player at the club is Bosnian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

The former Portsmouth goalkeeper has been a consistently outstanding performer since moving to Stoke in 2010 as a 23 year old, and is now regularly linked with moves to some of Europe's top clubs - Juventus and Real Madrid have been mentioned in recent months.

What has been particularly impressive about Begovic, is his desire to claim balls into the box. Many goalkeepers struggle with crosses and long balls in the air, not knowing whether to come and catch, to punch, or to back off and leave it to somebody else. Begovic doesn't seem to have that issue, as he comes and catches as much as possible.

The chart below shows his successful and unsuccessful claims since the start of the 2012/13 season. Over that time, Begovic has claimed a remarkable 232 balls into the box, 2.9 per game, with an astounding success rate of 97%. 

But the Bosnian is more than just a presence in the air. He is also a fantastic shot stopper, saving points for Stoke on many occasions.

The images below shows the saves Begovic has made since the start of last season. You can see that he has made 79 saves in 41 appearances, at a rate of 1.93 per game. In this time, he has kept 11 clean sheets (one every 3.7 games), and has conceded 46 goals (1.12 per game).

Stoke's defence has a reputation for being pretty impenetrable at times, but the real challenge is once you get past the back four and come face to face with one of the best goalkeepers in the modern game. 

How do you stop Stoke?
Stoke are a side that tend to pick up the majority of their points at home, with the Britannia becoming a bit of a fortress since they were promoted to the Premier League.

This season though, they have played four home league games, winning and losing two a piece, and have also lost a Capital One Cup game there (to Southampton on Wednesday night).

So, how did Aston Villa and Leicester City head home from one of the most notoriously difficult away fixtures with three points each, and a clean sheet?

Let's start with the clean sheets. Stoke have a reputation for getting the ball into the box quickly, either via long balls into a target man, or through utilising wingplay. In order to deal with the onslaught of balls into the box, both Villa and Leicester made a large number of clearances from within their own box.

The images below show Villa's 32 clearances (left) and Leicester's 50 (right). You'll notice that a large number of clearances are marked with blue arrows on the images. This denotes a headed clearance, demonstrating that Stoke often go for aerial balls into the box, particularly when chasing a game.

In attack both teams, again, took a similar approach.

Although Stoke possess one of the most resolute defences in the division, they do not possess much pace. As a result, Villa and Leicester attempted a high volume of take ons in attacking areas, isolated defenders and running at them.

The images below again show Villa on the left, and Leicester on the right.

You'll notice that, Villa attempted a higher number within the penalty area, whilst Leicester operated outside the box and down the flanks.

For Villa's goal, both Charles N'Zogbia and Andreas Weimann took on defenders, bundling through tackles on the way to Weimann scoring. And for Leicester's goal, the Foxes worked the ball wide to Paul Konchesky who rolled across the six yard box for Leonardo Ulloa to tap in.

Both goals were indicative of the approaches taken: run at them with speed, and get the ball into the box. This is a tactic that should suit West Ham's current approach to the game, and one that will hopefully pay dividend for the Hammers.

I've already mentioned the lack of pace in defence for Stoke, but that is something that they actually cope with rather well generally, so isn't their main weakness.

The area of the game the Potters most struggle with is at the other end of the pitch, and putting the ball in the back of the net.

Stoke tend to play with a variation on the 4-3-3 formation, with one striker and a couple of wingers. This season, their main six forwards have attempted 44 shots between them in 9 appearances - a combined rate of 4.9 shots per game.

However, they have only hit the target with 32% of those shots, and have scored just 5 goals between them, at a conversion rate of just 11%.

It is an issue that Stoke have experienced in the past, but one that Mark Hughes probably felt he had addressed last season. Last year, Stoke were the 10th highest scoring side in the division. So far this season, they are down to 15th.

It is still early in the season and, of course, all of this could change, but as it stands Stoke are struggling to put the ball in the back of the net.

An away trip to the Potteries is never easy.

West Ham will have a serious job on to get through a very successful defence and talented goalkeeper, and will have to deal with a couple of tricky customers at the other end too.

Coming away with anything will be a very good return, and a victory would be a massive achievement.

But optimism is high in East London, and let's hope that con continue after the weekend.

 Head to Head 
37% Head to Head Win % 40%
33 Won 36
21 Drawn 21
36 Lost 33
106 Goals Scored 129
129 Goals Conceded 106

 Recent Form (excl. Friendlies) 
W W L W L L Last 6 D W L W W W
10 Goals Scored 13
9 Goals Conceded 6
L W L W W L Home/Away Form L L W D L W
8 Goals Scored 9
6 Goals Conceded 9
 Form Player (excl. GK) 
 (Last 6 League) 
Victor Moses - Stewart Downing
6 Appearances 6
540 Minutes Played 540
161 Sum Squawka Performance Score 213
27 Average Squawka Performance Rating 36
107 Passes Attempted 272
89 Completed 232
83% Success Rate 85%
14 Chances Created 20
3 Assists 3
7 Attempts on Goal 8
4 On Target 3
0 Goals 0

36 Take Ons Attempted 9
21 Successful Take Ons 5
58% Success Rate 56%
16 Tackles Made 9
10 Successful Tackles 3
63% Success Rate 33%
6 Interceptions 3
4 Clearances 9
0 Blocks 0
2 Defensive Actions Per Game 2
10 Aerial Duels 2
2 Won 1
20% Success Rate 50%

0 Defensive Errors 0
0 Leading to a Goal 0
 Last Meeting 
11 May 2014
0-1 Andy Carroll 5'
1-1 Peter Odemwingie 32'
2-1 Marko Arnautovic 69'
3-1 Peter Odemwingie 79

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

Asmir Begovic - Adrián
Geoff Cameron - Guy Demel
Ryan Shawcross - James Tomkins
Marc Wilson - Winston Reid
(14') Erik Pieters - George McCartney
Steven N'Zonzi - Mark Noble
Glenn Whelan - Antonio Nocerino (76')
Peter Odemwingie - Stewart Downing (62')
Stephen Ireland - Kevin Nolan
Marko Arnautovic - Mohamed Diamé
Peter Crouch - Andy Carroll (83')

Thomas Sorenson - Jussi Jääskeläinen
Ryan Shotton - James Collins
(14') Marc Muniesa - Pablo Armero (83')
Andy Wilkinson - Matthew Taylor
Wilson Palacios - Matt Jarvis
Matthew Etherington - Joe Cole (62')
John Guidetti - Carlton Cole (76')

Stoke City: Robert Huth, Glenn Whelan, Peter Odemwingie
West Ham United: Gey Demel, Mauro Zárate, Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho

Stoke City: Phil Bardsley, Peter Crouch
West Ham United: 

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

  Asmir Begovic

  Phil Bardsley  Ryan Shawcross  Marc Wilson  Erik Pieters

  Steven N'Zonzi  Charlie Adam (53')

  Jonathan Walters (69')  Geoff Cameron  Victor Moses (79')

  Peter Crouch

Thomas Sorenson
  Robert Huth
  Steve Sidwell
  Oussama Assaidi (79')
  Marko Arnautovic (69')
  Bojan Krkic
  Mame Biram Diouf (53')
 Best Player: Phil Bardsley(SR: 7.6)
 Worst Player: Oussama Assaidi(SR: 5.9)
 Top 5's (Min 5 Apps) 
 Goals Scored 
Charlie Adam 2 - 6 Diafra Sakho
Mame Biram Diouf 2 - 2 Carlton Cole
Jonathan Walters 2 - 2 Enner Valencia
Peter Crouch 1 - 2 Morgan Amalfitano
Ryan Shawcross 1 - 1 Mauro Zárate

Victor Moses 3 - 3 Stewart Downing
Oussama Assaidi 1 - 2 James Tomkins
Erik Pieters 1 - 2 Aaron Cresswell
Peter Crouch 1 - 1 Mauro Zárate
                         - 1 Carl Jenkinson

 Passing Accuracy 
Oussama Assaidi 89% - 87% Mark Noble
Glenn Whelan 89% - 86% Carl Jenkinson
Steven N'Zonzi 85% - 84% Winston Reid
Victor Moses 83% - 84% Alex Song
Erik Pieters 83% - 83% Stewart Downing

 Chances Created per 90 
Marko Arnautovic 2.41 - 2.56 Stewart Downing
Victor Moses 2 - 1.44 Aaron Cresswell
Glenn Whelan 1.15 - 1.43 Mark Noble
Peter Crouch 0.94 - 0.8 Alex Song
Steven N'Zonzi 0.89 - 0.65 Diafra Sakho

 Successful Dribbles per 90 
Victor Moses 4 - 2 Enner Valencia
Steven N'Zonzi 2.77 - 1.07 Morgan Amalfitano
Marko Arnautovic 2.18 - 1 Alex Song
Jonathan Walters 2.17 - 0.95 Cheikhou Kouyaté
Mame Biram Diouf 2.11 - 0.71 Mark Noble

 Tackles Won per 90 
Charlie Adam 4 - 2.85 Cheikhou Kouyaté
Oussama Assaidi 2.77 - 2.81 Alex Song
Erik Pieters 2.18 - 2.43 Mark Noble
Victor Moses 2.17 - 1.62 Diafra Sakho
Phil Bardsley 2.11 - 1.32 Carl Jenkinson

 Aerial Duels Won per 90 
Peter Crouch 8.56 - 3.55 Diafra Sakho
Jonathan Walters 3.81 - 3.5 James Tomkins
Ryan Shawcross 3.56 - 3.33 Winston Reid
Marc Wilson 3.11 - 2.85 Cheikhou Kouyaté
Erik Pieters 2.89 - 2.09 Carlton Cole

Mark Hughes - Sam Allardyce
01/11/1963 DOB 19/10/1954
50 Age 60
 Playing Career 
Manchester United Main Club Bolton Wanderers
473 Appearances 231
163 Goals 24
7 Total Clubs 9
799 Appearances 512
224 Goals 43
Wales National Team England
72 Caps 0
 Managerial Career 
Wales First Managerial Role Preston North End
04/08/1999 Start Date 30/09/1992
15y 2m 21d Experience 22y 0m 24d
6 Sides Managed 7
0 League Titles 2
0 Cup Wins 0
38.2% Win % 39.9%
164 Won 354
113 Drawn 232
152 Lost 301
 Longest Role (excl. Current) 
Blackburn Rovers Club Bolton Wanderers
15/09/2004 Appointed 19/10/1999
03/06/2008 Left 29/04/2007
3y 8m 17d Time in Charge 7y 6m 9d

0 League Titles 0
0 Cup Wins 0
43.6% Win % 41.2%
82 Won 153
47 Drawn 104
59 Lost 114
 Current Club 
30/05/2013 Appointed 01/06/2011
1y 4m 26d Time in Charge 3y 4m 24d
0 League Titles 0
0 Cup Wins 0
38.1% Win % 40.4%
21 Won 59
14 Drawn 33
20 Lost 54

Monday, 27 October 2014

West Ham United 2 - 1 Manchester City

Boleyn Ground

West Ham United 2 - 1 Manchester City

1-0 Morgan Amalfitano 21'
2-0 Diafra Sakho 75'
2-1 David Silva 77'

West Ham United 2, Manchester City 1.

Erm... What?

Let's be honest, pretty much everything in Saturday's game was positive.

There were individual performances all over the park, we defended wonderfully, we didn't lose our attacking intent, we took the Champions and we beat them. It wasn't a smash and grab 11 men behind the ball job either. We just plain beat them.

First thing's first, the defence.

Before the game, I said that the way to beat City is to defend with your life. Block everything, throw yourself into tackles, and just get the ball away. On Saturday afternoon, we did exactly that.

We put in 37 attempted tackles. We made 38 clearances. We made 18 interceptions. We made 20 blocks (passes, crosses and shots).

The image below shows ours tackles (left) and blocks (right). We only won 32% of our tackles, but that isn't really important against a side like City. It's not about winning possession back a lot of the time, it's more about disrupting their flow and stopping them from playing. By flying into tackles everywhere, we simply refused to allow City to build anything positive going forward for large periods of the game.

What was particularly pleasing about Saturday's game though, was that we didn't just shut up shop and defend with 11 men behind the ball. We know that we are a side capable of defending against the best sides - remember the clean sheet against Chelsea last year? - but against City we actually got forward and attacked with menace too.

It was incredibly refreshing to see the side continue doing what they have been successful with in recent weeks. Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho were their usual energetic and dangerous selves, whilst Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Cresswell got forward with regularity down the flanks, to provide some serious offensive threat.

The image below shows the chances created by the side, and our attempted take ons. We attempted 10 take ons on the day, showing our intent throughout.

It's hard to be negative about such a fantastic performance, but there were some areas of improvement. 

This was the performance that saw our worst pass completion record by some way. We only completed 64% of our passes against City, which saw us struggle to retain possession and give our defence a rest from the waves of City attacks.

The image below shows the pass completion of each of the 14 Hammers on the day. The midfield all posted reasonable figures, but all of the defenders completed less than 60% of their passes, and look at Diafra Sakho on just 13% (Kevin Nolan didn't attempt any passes, hence his 0%).

At the end of the day, our pass completion doesn't matter if we create and convert chances. But having a better passing accuracy would enable the defence and Adrián to have a bit more of a rest against the top opposition.

Key Player
We had a number of stand out performances on Saturday lunchtime. Really, you could pick almost all of them out as top performers, but there was one man who stood out for me.

Alex Song put in the sort of performance that his reputation said he would when he arrived in East London. The Cameroonian has taken a few games to really get into his stride, but he really arrived on Saturday.

Song was the calming influence we needed in midfield, hassling the opposition players, keeping possession and just running the game.

He completed 77% of his passes (4th best in the side), completed one take on, made two interceptions, blocked two passes and blocked one shot. He also put in a whopping 9 attempted tackles, winning 3 of them.

In truth, the stats don't really do justice to what was an excellent midfield performance from the #30.

The image below shows his heat map and attempted tackles. You can clearly see that he was everywhere on the day, a true box to box performance.

Saturday's performance must go down as one of the best day's of Sam Allardyce's reign.

Not only did we get an excellent result against the league champions, but it was the manner in which we got the win. We basically out performed one of the best sides in Europe in both attack and defence.

It doesn't really get much better than that.

 General Play 
WhoScored Performance Rating
4-1-2-1-2 Formation 4-4-2

(7.3) Adrián - Joe Hart (6.3)
(6.4) Carl Jenkinson - Pablo Zabaleta (6.8)
(7.6) James Collins - Vincent Kompany (6.5)
(7.1) Winston Reid - Eliaquim Mangala (7.8)
(6.9) Aaron Cresswell - Gael Clichy (6.2)
(6.8) Mark Noble - Jesus Navas (7.3)
(7.3) Morgan Amalfitano - Yaya Toure (7.6)
(6.9) Alex Song - Fernando (6.7)
(6.7) Stewart Downing - David Silva (8.2)
(8.4) Diafra Sakho - Edin Dzeko (5.9)
(7.7) Enner Valencia - Sergio Aguero (7.1)

(6.9) Cheikhou Kouyaté - Stevan Jovetic (6.3)
(5.9) Carlton Cole - James Milner (6.7)
(6.1) Kevin Nolan - Aleksandar Kolarov (6.3)

Best Performance
(8.4) Diafra Sakho - David Silva (8.2)

Worst Performance
(5.9) Carlton Cole - Edin Dzeko (5.9)

37% Possession 63%

208 Passes Attempted 537
Mark Noble 32 Most Attempted 96 Yaya Toure

64% Passing Accuracy 82%
47% In Opp. Half 74%
Mark Noble 91% Best Accuracy (min. 15 passes) 98% Fernando

47 Long Balls 53
23% % Long Balls 10%
Aaron Cresswell 12 Most Long Balls (excl. GK) 12 Yaya Toure

Most Frequent Pass Combination
Noble to Song 8 - 21 Silva to Toure

 14 Aerial Duels Won 25 
 36% Success 64% 
Diafra Sakho 9 Most Won 6 Eliaquim Mangala

Mark Noble 47 Most Touches 112 Yaya Toure

 Offensive Play 
12 Attempts on Goal 21
4 On Target 5
6 Off Target 11
2 Blocked 5
25% From Outside the Box 48%
Enner Valencia 4 Most Shots 7 Sergio Aguero

7 Chances Created 14
Aaron Cresswell 2 Most Chances Created 4 David Silva

19 Crosses 23
Aaron Cresswell 5 Most Attempted 11 Jesus Navas

2 Successful Crosses 10
11% Success 43%
Alex Song 1 Most Successful 6 Jesus Navas

10 Take Ons Attempted 19
7 Successful Take Ons 15
70% Success 79%
Morgan Amalfitano 2 Most Successful Take Ons 3 Sergio Aguero

 Defensive Play 
37 Tackles Attempted 32
12 Successful Tackles 13
32% Success 41%
Alex Song 3 Most Successful Tackles 4 Eliaquim Mangala

38 Clearances 41
James Collins 12 Most Clearances 13 Eliaquim Mangala

15 Interceptions 16
Winston Reid 3 Most Interceptions 2 Eliaquim Mangala

5 Shot Blocks 2
James Collins 3 Most Shot Blocks 1 Eliaquim Mangala

 12 Fouls 14 
Alex Song 5 Most Fouls 6 Vincent Kompany

2 Yellow Cards 1
West Ham United:  Morgan Amalfitano,  Alex Song  
Manchester City:  Vincent Kompany   

0 Red Cards 0
West Ham United:     
Manchester City:     

 Head to Heads 
Adrián vs Joe Hart
7.3 WhoScored Rating 6.3

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

29 Total Distribution 36
9 Accurate 18
31% Success 50%

13 Goal Kicks 9
4 Accurate 5
31% Success 56%
0 Throw Outs 5
0 Accurate 4
0% Success 80%

6 Kick from Hand 1
1 Accurate 0
17% Success 0%
10 Other 21
4 Accurate 9
40% Success 43%

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

Diafra Sakho 6 Most Passed To 5 Gael Clichy
Winston Reid 4 Most Passes From 8 Eliaquim Mangala

Winston Reid vs Vincent Kompany
7.1 WhoScored Rating 6.5

4 Aerial Duels 4
1 Duels Won 4
25% Success 100%
3 Tackles Attempted 5
2 Tackles Completed 0
67% Success 0%
10 Clearances 9
3 Interceptions 1
1 Shot Blocks 0
0 Errors Leading to Shot 0
0 Errors Leading to Goal 0
19 Passes Attempted 46
11 Successful 36
58% Success 78%
0 Crosses Attempted 0
0 Successful 0
0% Success 0%
0 Chances Created 0
0 Attempts on Goal 1
0 On Target 0
0 Goals 0
Adrián 4 Most Passed To 9 Yaya Toure
Aaron Cresswell 2 Most Passes From 6 Pablo Zabaleta

Alex Song vs Yaya Toure
6.9 WhoScored Rating 7.6

30 Passes Attempted 96
23 Successful 85
77% Success 89%
0 Chances Created 2
0 Assists 0
0 Attempts on Goal 7
0 On Target 1
0 Goals 0
1 Take Ons Attempted 4
1 Take Ons Successful 3
100% Success 75%
1 Crosses Attempted 0
1 Successful 0
100% Success 0%
9 Tackles Attempted 4
3 Tackles Completed 2
33% Success 50%
0 Clearances 1
2 Interceptions 0
1 Shot Blocks 0
0 Errors Leading to Shot 0
0 Errors Leading to Goal 0
Mark Noble 7 Most Passed To 19 David Silva
Mark Noble 8 Most Passes From 21 David Silva

Diafra Sakho vs Sergio Aguero
8.4 WhoScored Rating 7.1

4 Attempts on Goal 6
1 On Target 1
1 Goals 1
37 Touches 39
8 in Penalty Area 16
21% % Penalty Area 41%

1 Chances Created 0
0 Assists 0
15 Passes Attempted 21
2 Successful 16
13% Success 76%
2 Take Ons 4
0 Successful Take Ons 3
0% Success 75%
19 Aerial Duels 1
9 Duels Won 0
47% Success 0%
Enner Valencia 1 Most Passed To 8 David Silva
Adrián 6 Most Passes From 9 David Silva