Aug 312013
 

West Ham vs Stoke, 15:00

– Despite creating the better chances, West Ham were unable to break their deadlock with Newcastle last weekend and could only leave Tyneside with a point for their efforts. Winston Reid was one of the standout performers on the day, further cementing his position as one of the most effective fullbacks in the league.

– Guy Demel looks to have the bit between his teeth this season, the imposing defender establishing a tackle success rate of 83.3% from 6 challenges so far according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

– Indeed, the Hammers look to have a solid back four ahead of a long campaign, with Demel’s defensive colleague Winston Reid once again positioning himself as a key part of their backline. The New Zealand international ranks 4th in the league for clearances with 24.

– Jussi Jaaskelainen will be more than happy to sit behind what has been a rock solid defence so far this season. Not only have West Ham yet to concede a goal but Jaaskelainen has only had to make 1 save in his 180 minutes on the pitch.

– At the other end of the park though, Sam Allardyce will be looking for more potency in front of goal at home this weekend, having seen only two of his players (Maiga and Cole) manage to establish a shot accuracy rate in front of goal of 50% or more.

– Mark Hughes’ Stoke fought back from a goal down to register their new manager’s first home win of his tenure thanks to goals from Charlie Adam and Ryan Shawcross.

– Mark Hughes will be looking for his defense to start providing Asmir Begovic with more protection this weekend. His keeper currently leads the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for saves with 14, 5 ahead of David De Gea in second place.

– Midfield enforcer Steven N’Zonzi looks to have been working hard on his technique over the summer, quickly racking up a tackle success rate of 91.7% from 12 attempted challenges. Along with Crystal Palace’s Joel Ward, this represents the joint highest success rate of any Premier League player who has attempted more than 5 challenges.

– N’Zonzi has also proved more than adept with the ball at his feet, leading the Stoke squad for passes in the opponent’s half with 50.

Aug 232013
 

Newcastle vs West Ham, Saturday 15:00

– Newcastle fell to a 4-0 defeat at the hands of a refreshed Man City side brimming with energy and creativity. Alan Pardew was quick to point out the unsettling effect of a late bid for midfielder Yohan Cabaye from Arsenal though and will be hoping for less distractions in his side’s preparation for this weekend.

– Unsurprising Tim Krul was amongst the most active keepers during last week’s round of fixtures, seeing his goal peppered by shots from the Man City forward line. The Dutchman ranks second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for saves with 7.

– In a game which saw City dominate possession for such lengthy spells, Moussa Sissoko still managed to get himself on the ball and completed a squad-high 19 passes in the opponent’s half at the Etihad.

– Although Newcastle had their backs against the wall for much of the match against City, midfield hard man Cheik Tiote clearly didn’t give up the ghost. His 12 defensive contributions was the joint second highest of any midfielder on the losing side in the last round.

– Bereft of possession and scoring opportunities, only Hatem Ben Arfa managed to carve out any chances against a dominant City defence. The elusive Frenchman got 2 attempts on goal away, although unfortunately both were off target according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Ben Arfa is 12/5 with 888sport.com to find the back of the net at any time against the Hammers.

– West Ham got their season off to a flying start against Premier League newcomers Cardiff. A 2-0 win thanks to goals from Joe Cole and Kevin Nolan will have sent confidence rocketing and Sam Allardyce will be looking for his side to keep their newfound momentum going when they travel north this weekend.

– Kevin Nolan will have been especially pleased to get on the scoresheet given his somewhat suspect accuracy in front of goal against the Gunners. Of all the players to score last weekend, he has the joint lowest percentage of shots on target (25%) according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

– However, Nolan does boast an impeccable defensive record after last weekend’s fixtures, being successful with both of his two attempted tackles and conceding no fouls. The former Newcastle man will have to be mindful of not letting his emotions get the best of him when he returns to his former club this weekend though, especially given his conceding an average of 1.8 fouls over his 35 appearance last season.

– Winston Reid quietly established a reputation as one of the league’s most underrated defenders last season and the New Zealand international wasted no time in picking up where he left off in May. Reid’s 15 defensive contributions was the second highest of any fullback in the league last weekend.

– Although he didn’t manage to have an attempt on goal, Modibo Maiga is certainly getting himself in all the right positions to make an impact. His 22 passes in the opponent’s half was the 3rd highest of any forward in the league last weekend according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. Maiga is 13/5 to get himself on the scoresheet against Newcastle with 888sport.com.

May 192013
 

West Ham v Reading 16:00

 

- West Ham may have been forgiven for thinking they were extras to the David Moyes show in their last outing, as the Hammers lost 2-0 to Everton in Moyes’ last home game in charge of the Toffees. However, Kevin Nolan twice went close to raining on the soon to be Manchester United manager’s parade.

 

- Andy Carroll has been a handful for defences all season, and the game against Everton was no different. He won 8 duels, more than any other player on the pitch.

 

- That aerial prowess combined with Matt Jarvis’ frequent deliveries (he contributed six crosses against Everton, the most of last weekend in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index) suggests that if both stay at Upton Park next season, and stay fit, then Hammers fans can expect that partnership to start delivering more goals next season.

 

- At the other end of the pitch, James Collins made six clearances in the game, the most by any player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index this weekend.

 

- Reading were on the receiving end of Man City’s FA Cup final payback on Tuesday night, losing to them 2-0. Reading won just 37% of duels in the game, their lowest of the season so far, as City took out their frustration on the Royals.

 

- Alex McCarthy’s palms will also be stinging from City’s strikers taking their revenge on the Reading goal mouth. He made 13 saves in the game, the joint highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for the last round of games and the third highest of the season.

 

- Adrian Mariappa, meanwhile, made four blocks, the most by a player in the last round of games. Mariappa sits second in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for interceptions this season, having disrupted opposition play with 221 interceptions this season.

 

- Mikele Leigertwood, meanwhile, is the second highest ranked midfielder for defensive contributions this season having made 242 across tackles won, blocks, clearances and interceptions.

 

- Adam le Fondre hit an excellent run of goal scoring form early in the season but has had fewer opportunities as the season has gone on. However, he looks likely to end the season with some of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s most impressive goal scoring stats. Of the 25 players who have scored ten or more goals this season Le Fondre has taken the fewest efforts at goal (45) to do so.

May 122013
 

Everton v West Ham, 15:00

– Everton competed in a toughly fought Merseyside derby on Sunday which ended 0-0. They now face West Ham after a tumultuous week which saw manager David Moyes confirmed as the new Manchester United manager.

– As well as having a goal disallowed against Liverpool, Sylvain Distin made five clearances, the joint highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for the last round of games.

– Distin is not the only Everton player who can feel aggrieved at not having a healthier goal tally this season. Kevin Mirallas has the best shots on target percentage of the players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index who have had 50 or more shots at goal in total. He’s had 61 shots at goal with 73.7% on target, but has had a return of just four goals.

– Phil Jagielka has been a key component in Everton’s back line this season, attempting 72 tackles and winning 84.7% of them, while averaging 6.54 tackles per foul.

– Leighton Baines has been one of Everton, and the Premier League’s star performers this season and has been linked with following his manager to Manchester United. Baines has delivered 137 crosses this season, the second highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, and completed 821 passes in the opposition half, the most by a defender.

– West Ham are also coming into the game on the back of a goalless draw, theirs against Newcastle.

– Winston Reid has emerged as a key player for West Ham this season, and against Newcastle he made 20 interceptions, the second highest by a West Ham player in a single game this season. The only West Ham player to rate higher in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index is James Tomkins for making 22 interceptions, again against Newcastle, in November.

– Joey O’Brien is West Ham’s top ranked player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index this season, in 57th place overall. The Republic of Ireland defender has won 61.8% of 76 tackles attempted this season and also made 78 interceptions.

– O’Brien’s just ahead of Jussi Jaaskelainen in the Index, who is West Ham’s next ranked player and has been the 6th busiest goalkeeper in the Premier League making 184 saves.

May 042013
 

West Ham v Newcastle, 15:00 

 

- A consolation goal in the final minutes from Andy Carroll was not enough to prevent West Ham from suffering a 2-1 defeat against Manchester City at the Etihad. 

 

- It will interesting to see how Carroll deals with facing his beloved former club but all signs are that he is returning to his imposing best and will be in merciless form against the Magpies. Carroll has found a measure of stability at West Ham, compiling the greatest number of attempts on goal in the Hammers squad (63) as well as averaging the least amount of time of any of his teammates to get a shot on goal, with one attempt coming on average once every 28.7 minutes according to the EA SPORTS Player performance Index. 

 

- James Tomkins remains West Ham’s best tackler this season, having been successful with 78.7% of his 47 attempted challenges this season. His defensive reading of the game will be crucial against a Newcastle side that will be pressing for a much-needed win following a string of disappointing performances. 

 

- No West Ham player has ventured forward with more success than Mark Noble this season, completing a squad-high 511 passes in the opponent’s half this season at an average rate of one every 4.6 minutes, another squad-best. The Newcastle defence has shown serious fragility in recent weeks and Hammers fans will be looking to Noble to provide the platform for their side’s attacks this weekend. 

 

- Newcastle were humbled 0-6 at home by Liverpool last weekend in a result that leaves them just two places from the bottom three and in a real relegation dogfight. Alan Pardew will be demanding a response from his players this weekend. 

 

- A quick start could be crucial to Newcastle’s chances of success this weekend, having seen two big games in recent weeks run away from them. Papiss Cisse will be the man the Toon Army expect to rise to the occasion, not surprising given that the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows him as having a shot on goal on average once every 38.8 minutes this season. Cisse’s shot accuracy rate remains a concern though, having only seen 49.3% of his efforts find their way on target. 

 

- Newcastle appear to be a club in freefall and it’s at times like this that you need your big players to step up to the plate. Yohan Cayabe is one such player having average a pass in the opponent’s half on average once every 4.8 minutes this season. He will need to step up and dictate play here away from home. 

 

- Alan Pardew will be desperate for some defensive solidarity this weekend though, having seen his side have 6 put past them last weekend. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa will be central to this, the young centre-half already adapting to life in the Premier League, averaging a defensive contribution once every 16.7 minutes following his arrival in January.

Apr 272013
 

Manchester City v West Ham, 12:45

 

- Manchester City all but condemned themselves to the inevitable relinquishing of their Premier League title after they conceded three goals in the space of 9 second half minutes to fall to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham.

 

- Although City’s efforts to retain the Premier League crown this year have been in vain, Carlos Tevez has still been putting in some gigantic performances. He remains their most dangerous attacking player and will keen to finish the season on a high, having so far compiled an impressive 63.3% shot accuracy rate from 90 attempts and carving out a chance on goal on average once every 24.3 minutes this season.

 

- Matija Nastasic has rightly been garnering some heavy praise for his composed performances this season, however the 20 year-old still has work to do to ensure his technique complements his obvious talent. He’s only managed to compile a 51.4% tackle success rate from 37 attempted challenges this term, something he will be keen to build upon next season.

 

- The industry of James Milner is something his coaches can always count upon, however Milner himself may be slightly disappointed in his return for his marauding runs down the flank. Although he has rarely had consistent game time, he has only managed to register 3 assists despite delivering 44 crosses, a squad-high.

 

- West Ham all but ensured their Premier League survival for next season after goal from Matthew Jarvis and Kevin Nolan helped them secure a 2-0 win at home to Wigan.

 

- Winston Reid has been one of the major positives for Sam Allardyce’s side this season, the New Zealand international developing into a Premier League defender of real note. He’s made a solid 243 defensive contributions this season, a squad-high, at an average rate of one every 11.9 minutes according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

- Striker Andy Carroll appears to be finding life at West Ham much easier than he previously had at Liverpool, enabling him to be a much more effective attacking weapon in a side that plays more to his strengths. Despite being troubled by injury problems, Carroll has still managed more efforts on goal than an of his team mates with 58, managing to get a workable shot on target on average once every 53.6 minutes.

 

- Despite getting on the scoresheet last week, Matthew Jarvis is another who has endured a frustrating season when it comes to the final ball. Of all the players in the league to have registered 5 or less assists, Jarvis has delivered the most crosses (72).

Apr 212013
 

Jermain Defoe will demand positive write-ups in the press tomorrow following his brilliant goal in Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-1 win over Manchester City, but it wasn’t long ago that he was attracting the headlines Luis Suarez is today, after biting Ivanovic. During Spurs’ game against West Ham in 2006 Defoe was seen biting Javier Mascherano in response to being fouled.

However, as Steve Bennett booked Defoe for the incident, no further action could be taken as the FA didn’t deem it an exceptional incident, like Ben Thatcher’s elbow on Pedro Mendes.

“The referee was standing over me and if he felt I had done something bad he would have sent me off,” said Defoe, who was 24-year-old at the time of the incident. “It doesn’t look great on TV and I accept that I have a responsibility to conduct myself in the right way. When the West Ham player fouled me, I reacted in a bit of a mischievous way – my character is a little like that at times.”

Apr 202013
 

West Ham v Wigan 15:00

 

West Ham led twice against Manchester United in their mid week fixture, with goals from Ricardo Vaz Te and Mohammed Diame cancelled out twice in a 2-2 draw.

 

Winston Reid is one of a number of players to have shone at Upton Park this season, and is in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s top ten defenders for tackles won this season, having won 55.

 

Diame has also had a fantastic season, and has attracted praise from pundits and managers alike. Diame has three goals to his name this season, but has excelled in the tackle. Diame passed the 100 tackles attempted mark against Manchester United, and has now attempted 102 tackles winning 58% of them.

 

Vaz Te’s goal was his second of the season, to add to four assists. Vaz Te has also completed 208 passes in opposition territory and delivered 20 crosses.

 

Wigan held Manchester City for 85 minutes at the Etihad in their last game, before succumbing to a 1-0 defeat. Franco di Santo had troubled Joe Hart earlier in the game.

 

– Despite coming out without a point from Manchester City Shaun Maloney completed 49 passes in the opposition half during the game. That was the second highest from the last round of games, and 10 more than the highest of his Manchester City opponent’s Samir Nasri, who completed 39.

 

Maynor Figueroa continues to make a name for himself as one of the Premier League’s more attacking minded full backs. Only David Luiz has had more shots at goal than Figueroa, who has had 33 efforts at goal this season. However, with just 10 of those on target while he may be willing he may need to sharpen up on his accuracy before he can score the sort of goals Luiz scored this week.

 

– West Ham will need to work hard to break down a stoic Wigan defence. The Latics have two of the most effective defenders in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index in Gary Caldwell and Ivan Ramis. Ramis has made 193 defensive contributions across tackles, interceptions, clearances and blocks, averaging one every 7 minutes 43 seconds. Caldwell has made 256, averaging one every 7 minutes 54 seconds. Only QPR’s Christopher Samba has intervened in opposition play more frequently this season.

Apr 172013
 

West Ham v Manchester United, 19:45 

 

- A 1-1 draw at Southampton moved West Ham a point closer to safety last weekend and they will be looking to get way they can against champions-elect Man Utd this week to further that cause. 


- Matthew Jarvis will be looking for a greater return from his efforts in the final third as we reach the business end of the season. Despite being noted as an effective supplier of the final ball, out of all the players in the top 10 for crosses delivered this season on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index (Jarvis currently 8th with 71) Jarvis has the lowest total of assists with 2. 

 

- If the Hammers do retain their place in the Premier League, players like James Collins will rightly take some of the plaudits. No West Ham player has been more willing to throw themselves into the opposition’s path than Collins, racking up an impressive 30 blocks. 

 

- Man Utd dispatched Stoke with relative ease last weekend to move them ever closer to a 20th league title and they will be looking at this fixture as another that can bring the trophy almost within their grasp. 

 

- Speculation is rife in the tabloids this week that Wayne Rooney may be on his way out of Old Trafford, with PSG seemingly his most likely destination. However Rooney still clearly plays a key role at United, something that will not be lost on Sir Alex Ferguson.  Only three strikers have bettered his 599 successful passes in the opponent’s half this season (Suarez, Berbatov and Tevez) and none of them can surpass his average rate of 3.13 minutes per successful pass.   

 

- The debate continues between United fans as to whether Shinji Kagawa will eventually evolve into an irreplaceable member of the squad, but the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index certainly suggests he is well on his way to be coming an excellent Premier League midfielder. His 5 goals is the highest of any United midfielder, coming largely off the back of his solid 75% shot accuracy rate. 

 

- Michael Carrick remains the slick operator who makes the United engine room function, his 944 successful pass in the opponent’s half total standing as evidence of that. However his defensive work now stands almost on par with this, with Carrick currently rated as the second most successful tackler in the United squad behind Rio Ferdinand, having successfully completed 61.2% of his 67 attempted challenges. 


Apr 132013
 

Southampton v West Ham, 15:00

 

Southampton all but ensured their survival in the top flight with a fine 0-2 win over Reading last weekend.

 

– It is little wonder Southampton are flying high at this point in the season when you consider the solid defensive foundations that have seen them concede just three goals in their last five outings. Between then Jose Fonte and Maya Yoshida have amassed a highly impressive 538 defensive contributions between them this season.

 

– Midfielder Adam Lallana continues to prove that he belongs at Premier League level, posting some incredibly impressive statistics this season. The creative Englishman has been posting some fantastic all-round performances, racking up a tackle success rate of 71.6% as well a completed pass in the opponent’s half on average once every 4.4 minutes.

 

– Southampton will be desperate to cling onto the services of Luke Shaw come the summer, the youngster maturing with every game he plays in the top flight. At only 17 years of age, only 3 other players in the Southampton squad have contributed more defensively than Shaw (Schneiderlin, Yoshida and Fonte).

 

– A highly organized West Ham managed to negate Liverpool’s potent attacking threat as they battled to a 0-0 draw at Anfield last time out.

 

James Collins gained plenty of plaudits last weekend for his superb marshaling of the in-form Luis Suarez and his defensive authority will be needed again this week against a Southampton side full of attacking players. The Welsh international has the second best tackle success rate of any player in the Hammers squad to have made more than 10 attempted challenges, completing 70.6% of his 68 attempts according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

– Despite now being in his 30s, Joe Cole still has enough to influence proceedings when given the chance. Despite only playing 705 minutes for the Hammers this season, Cole has still managed to average a pass in the opponent’s half on average once every 4.1 minutes, the best rate in the West Ham squad.

 

– No West Ham player has been more willing than Mohamed Diame to take the game to the opposition this season, the Frenchman currently sitting the highest in the squad for dribbles with 19. Sam Allardyce’s side will need his powerful runs from the midfield to give the likes of Lallana and Schneiderlin something else to think about when moving forward.

Mar 302013
 

West Ham v West Brom 15:00

 

West Ham are six points clear of the relegation zone after suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea in their last game.

 

– West Ham captain Kevin Nolan has led by example throughout the season, scoring six goals and boasting the best shots on target percentage of any player taking 50 shots or more in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index this season. Nolan got 70.4%, or 38 out of 54, shots on target.

 

– All being well, Jussi Jaaskelainen will make his 150th save of the season against West Brom. Jaaskelainen is one of 25 players in the Premier League aged 35 or over, and has played the most minutes of these players with 2814 minutes on the pitch this season. Jaaskelainen was the seconds busiest goalkeeper in the last round of Premier League games, making 12 saves against Chelsea.

 

Mohamed Diame was a transfer target in January and showed again against Chelsea why he is so highly rated. Diame won 6 tackles in that game, the joint highest of any player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index along with team mate Gary O’Neil.

 

– Meanwhile Matt Jarvis delivered 6 crosses in the game against Chelsea, a total only bettered in the last round of games by Matt Etherington who delivered 8.

 

West Brom also failed to score in their last game, a 0-0 draw against Stoke, so both teams will be looking to rectify that in this game.

 

– Despite drawing a blank in that game, Romelu Lukaku maintains the second best minutes per goal rating in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with one every 118 minutes 28 seconds.

 

– Only three other outfielders have played more minutes than West Brom’s Gareth McAuley this season. McAuley has played 2803, with only Matt Lowton, Steven Gerrard and Davide Santon putting in more minutes on the pitch.

 

McAuley has enjoyed an impressive season, and in the game against Stoke he made his 150th interception of the campaign, one of just 11 players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to have hit the milestone.

 

Graham Dorrans will be hoping to break his Premier League duck in the remaining eight games of the season. He is currently joint third in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for having the most shots at goal without scoring, having had 23 efforts including 14 on target without a goal.

 

 

Mar 152013
 

Chelsea v West Ham, Sunday 16:00

 

Chelsea came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Manchester United in their last game, thanks to goals from Eden Hazard and Ramires.

 

Hazard has been a revelation in his first season in the Premier League, scoring 7 and contributing 12 assists, contributing to a goal every 112 minutes

 

– He has also completed 691 passes in the opposition half, averaging one every 3 minutes, one of 11 players to have maintained that passing rate for over 500 passes.

 

Ramires has enjoyed a regular role in the Chelsea midfield this season, playing 2062 minutes and scoring four goals. He’s also attempted 84 tackles, but will need to focus on coming away with the ball more often as he wins just 52.4% of those tackles attempted.

 

Cesar Azpilicueta has been quietly establishing himself in Chelsea’s right back role this season. Only four full backs in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index have delivered more crosses than the Spaniard’s 51, and he has also contributed 6 assists. That’s the same number of assists as Leighton Baines but from half as many crosses.

 

Jack Collison scored the winner for West Ham against Stoke in their last game.

 

Collison had been ruled out for much of the season with injury, but has scored twice in just 357 minutes from midfield since returning and averaged a pass completed in the opposition half every 7 minutes 27 seconds.

 

Ricardo Vaz Te provided the assist for the goal, his third of the season, having competed 160 passes in the opposition half and delivered 17 crosses.

 

Jussi Jaaskelainen once again produced an impressive performance to keep a clean sheet against Stoke, taking his tally of saves for the season to 137, the 7th highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index

 

Mark Noble remains West Ham’s top ranked player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, and should join the select group of six players who have attempted 100 tackles or more this season against Chelsea. Noble has attempted 94 tackles this season, winning 64.9%.

Mar 012013
 

Stoke v West Ham, Saturday 15:00

 

Stoke fell victim to a piece of Dimitar Berbatov genius last weekend as they left Craven Cottage with nothing following a 1-0 defeat.

 

– The list of suitors for Asmir Begovic appears to be growing following the arrival of Jack Butland in January and it’s not hard to see why. The Bosnian stopper boasts 139 saves this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

– Stoke fans will have been pleased to see Ryan Shawcross sign a new contract recently given his value to the Potters’ defence. His centre-half partnership with Robert Huth continues to develop and been the two of them they have made an excellent 481 defensive contributions this season, including 277 interceptions and 54 blocks.

 

Peter Crouch could certainly learn a thing or two from his defensive colleagues. He has one of the lowest tackle success rates in the league, having come out on top in on 9% of his 51 attempted challenges.

 

– Stoke have traditionally been viewed as primarily a defensive team who rely on physical stature and long-ball tactics to win games but they are slowly removing this label. They now have 7 players in the squad who have made 200 or more passes in the opponent’s half this season.

 

– A valiant effort was not enough to earn West Ham anything as Tottenham, powered by the superb Gareth Bale, snatched a 2-3 victory at the death last weekend.

 

– Whilst not yet back to his imposing best, Andy Carroll looks to be inching back to somewhere near his best form. He’s had an attempt on target once every 63 minutes he’s been on the field this season.

 

James Tomkins has been demonstrating some outstanding consistency at the other end of the park as well, establishing an excellent tackle success rate of 77% from 39 attempted challenges.

 

– The Hammer’s go-to man still seems to be Mark Noble though, given his sheer level of involvement in their play in their centre of the park. He’s made more passes than any other West Ham player in the opponent’s half (502) according to EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

Noble has also provided the second highest number of crosses (46) and the joint highest number of assist (3) for Sam Allardyce’s team this season.

Feb 102013
 

Aston Villa v West Ham 13:30

 

Aston Villa featured in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Everton in their last league outing. Two goals from Christian Benteke and one from Gabriel Agbonlahor earnt them a point that will please Villa fans, although the nature of the result coming from being 3-1 up will perhaps cause concern.

 

Benteke’s goals took him to 10 goals in the Premier League this season, one of 16 players to have hit the milestone. Of those 16 strikers, Benteke has taken the 6th highest number of shots to register his ten goals with 74. However, he also has the third best shots on target percentage of those 16 players with 71.6% of his shots on target. Only Juan Mata and Steven Fletcher have been more accurate in their pursuit of hitting double figures this season.

 

Ron Vlaar made 7 clearances in the game against Everton, and will be key to cutting off West Ham’s supply to Andy Carroll in this game. There have only been 6 players this season who have made more than 7 clearances in a game, and it’s Vlaar who still leads the ranking for most in one match with 11 against United in November.

 

Vlaar’s stats get even more impressive when you consider only 16 players this season have attempted more than 25 tackles and still maintained a 75% + success rate. Vlaar is one of those with 37 tackles attempted and 75.7% of them successful. He’s joined in that 16 by team mate Barry Bannan, who has attempted 28 tackles winning 78.6%.

 

Bradley Guzan made ten saves in the game against Everton, the second highest in the last round of Premier League games, and the fourth time this season he has had to make ten or more saves in a match. Guzan also hold the record for most saves in a match this season, with 16 against Liverpool in December, and most in the league overall this season with 146.

 

Andy Carroll celebrated a first start for West Ham since November by scoring the winner in a 1-0 win over Swansea in their last game.

 

– That was just Carroll’s second goal for West Ham this season, having had 29 shots at goal with 55.2% on target, a rate 14.5 shots per goal.

 

– West Ham’s James Tomkins is one of 16 players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to have attempted 25 or more tackles while maintaining a 75% success rate. He has attempted 34 tackles this season, winning 76.5% of them.

 

– Sam Allardyce called retaining Mohammed Diame ‘vital’ as the transfer window closed last week. The midfielder has attempted more tackles (70) than any other West Ham player this season, barring his midfield team mate Mark Noble who has attempted 90 tackles.

 

Noble was credited his third assist of the season after delivering his 46th cross this term for Andy Carroll to head in against against Swansea. Noble has also completed 482 passes in the opposition half this season, more than any of his West Ham team mates.

Jan 302013
 

Fulham v West Ham, 20:00

 

Fulham will be looking to bounce back from their last Premier League outing which saw them fall to a 2-0 defeat against Manchester City.

 

Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell is enjoying his role as a key part of the Fulham midfield this season. Sidwell has won 62 tackles this season, the joint second highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index

 

Overall Sidwell has contributed defensively every 10 minutes 28 seconds this season, the best rating of any midfielder in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. As well as his excellent tackling rate, Sidwell has also contributed 15 clearances, 77 interceptions, and 6 blocks.

 

West Ham will also be looking to forget their last league outing which saw them lose 5-1 to a rampant Arsenal side. A solitary Jack Collison strike was scant consolation for the Irons in that game

 

Irish defender Joey O’Brien is one of three West Ham players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s Top 100 players. O’Brien has made 89 defensive contributions this season across tackles won, clearances, interceptions and blocks, averaging one every 16 minutes 14 seconds

 

O’Brien could still, however, tighten up on his tackling as he’s won just 48.9% of the 45 tackles he has attempted this season

 

Goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, meanwhile, is one of eight goalkeepers now in the Premier League to have made over 100 saves. Jaaskelainen has made 103 saves overall, conceding 33 goals at a rate of 3.12 saves per goal.

Jan 182013
 

West Ham v QPR 15:00

 

West Ham could only muster a well-below par performance against Sunderland last weekend, as they were soundly beaten 3-0 at the Stadium of Light. Chances were in very short supply until it was too late and Sam Allardyce will have no doubt read his side the riot act ahead of this week’s fixture against fellow struggler QPR.

 

Mohamed Diame is attracting interest from some of the top clubs in the Premier League after being the heartbeat of West Ham’s midfield for much of this season. The dynamic midfielder has a 60% tackle success rate and 23 interceptions to his name.

 

Joe Cole has wasted no time in re-starting his West Ham career, already delivery 8 crosses at a rate of one every 36.5 minutes according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

– Not only is Mark Noble regularly the most energetic player on the field for West Ham, consistently covering the most distance this season, he’s also the fulcrum around which their play develops, having completed a squad-high 401 passes in the opponent’s half.

 

– However, Noble will be looking for greater consistency in his deliveries from the flank. He currently has the joint highest total for crosses made for only one assist, with 42.

 

Kevin Nolan loves to break forward with bursts into the box and may find space to work in what has a been a shaky QPR defence this season. He’s the Hammers’ top scorer with 5 goals, a rate of one every 8.4 attempts he has on goal.

 

– No West Ham player has contributed more defensively to his side’s cause than Winston Reid this season, making 172 successful defensive interventions according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

QPR managed to grind out a draw against a Tottenham side who are capable of beating anyone on their day, a result which may indicate that their revival under Harry Redknapp is under way. QPR keeper Julio Cesar was in fantastic form, saving a number of Tottenham efforts, and R’s fans will have taken hope from a performance that was full of hard-running and a battling mentality.

 

Adel Taarabt appears to have a new lease on life under Harry Redknapp and he is clearly enjoying his recent purple run of form. He’s getting himself ever-more involved in Rangers’ play, make a squad-high 460 passes in the opponent’s half, as well as chipping in with 4 goals and 3 assists.

 

– Striker David Hoilett stands almost alone among the Premier League’s strikers in having an impressive defensive record to complement his attacking play. The Canadian has a 64% tackle success rate from 38 attempted challenges according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

 

– The rest of the QPR squad will need to show some of the same grit and determination being showcased by their captain Ryan Nelsen if they are to escape relegation come the end of the season. The respected Kiwi defender has been throwing himself in the way of the ball with abandon, blocking 26 times this season.

 

Esteban Granero may have crossed the ball in 22 times this season, but he will be looking for greater end product from his deliveries as the season moves forward. He’s only managed to register 1 assist so far according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.

Jan 172013
 

1. Having struggled in the FA Cup in recent years, Sir Alex Ferguson has made it clear that he now wants to get his hands back on that trophy, and as such, he kept his word and fielded a relatively strong side which looked like it could cause West Ham all sorts of trouble, even with the likes of Robin van Persie, Patrice Evra and Michael Carrick all absent from the starting XI. It’s nice to see the gaffer taking the cup so seriously considering just how long we’ve gone without winning the competition now, regardless of how low it is in how priority list.

2. After the teams had been announced, I was excited to see Nani, Anderson and Wayne Rooney all starting after their recent absences due to injury. All three players are fantastic footballers who have a lot to offer the team and seeing them getting valuable game-time under their belt can prove to be beneficial to us in the long run when you take into account some of the games we have coming up, including our next round in the cup against Fulham and of course our two fixtures against Real Madrid.

3. Ryan Giggs once again reminded the world that he is still among the best in our league when it comes threading a football through a defence. It’s fair to say that the 39 year old started off poorly with him giving away the ball cheaply rather than holding onto possession. As the game grew and he found his feet, Giggs started to dictate play and show his real worth to the team, especially in the second half where his teammates looked disinterested and left it up to the veteran to try and make something happen, which he did. His excellent weaving run took him past four challenges and into the box where his cross hit a hand and won us a penalty.

4. Speaking of penalties, Wayne Rooney has now taken 26 penalties and has only converted 17 of those, taking his average conversion rate to 65%. As good a footballer as he is, it has now become abundantly clear that taking penalties are not his strong point. What makes it all the more baffling is why he is still allowed to take them given the other players on the pitch who have better conversion rates, in today’s case, Ryan Giggs. When Wazza steps up to take those penalties, there is always a little part of me that thinks he is going to miss. I’d much rather see penalty duties handed out to Robin van Persie from now on.

5. With Robin not featuring today, and given just how clinical we’ve become from set-pieces ever since the Dutchman started taking them, it was interesting to see how our side would cope without him on the field. Well, ‘poorly’ is the answer to that one. Whenever we had a corner or a freekick, we looked to play it short instead of whipping the ball into the danger zone, and when we did hit it directly into the box, our crosses looked tame and barely troubled the first defender. An all too chilling remainder of last season.

6. After rumours started circulating online that Nemanja Vidic had picked up yet another injury to his knee, I was looking forward to seeing how young Chris Smalling will cope when leading the defensive line against a strong and physical West Ham strike force. The youngster did magnificently well to shrug off any challenges with minimal ease whilst holding together a vastly inexperienced defensive line-up. It was nice to see how far he’s come after ‘that’ night at Upton Park a few years ago. Regardless, rumours of an injury to Vidic have been quashed by the manager and so hopefully we’ll see the Serb return to the starting line-up against Spurs.

7. Although I wanted Welbeck to be starting today and hopefully see him grab a much needed goal to boost his confidence, Hernandez more than made up for my disappointment with a magnificent performance which saw him involved in nearly every single attack that we created. Yes, he was offside a tad too often for my liking but even then, he was impressive off and on the ball and looks twice the player he was last season. His overall play has improved dramatically as well, with him now bagging two assists in two consecutive starts.

8. We’ve often been labelled a one-man team this season and it was interesting to see how we’d cope today without that certain ‘man’ on the field. ‘Not very well’ is the answer. I am of course referring to Michael Carrick who had to come on in the second half and help turn the tide back into United’s favour. People are quick to pick up on Robin van Persie’s goals and assists and this often leads to them overlooking the influence Carrick has on our matches. It was disappointing to see how fragile our midfield looked without its main anchor holding the team together.

9. Keeping possession can be crucial when your team is on the back-foot, so it was extremely annoying to see how often Lindegaard gave the ball away with a sloppy kick out from the back. His distribution is embarrassing when you compare it to De Gea, and adds to a growing list of reasons as to why the Spaniard should be our starting ‘keeper rather than the Danish international. I have nothing against Lindegaard and am more than happy to see him feature in our domestic games and the odd league match but seeing him start in the big games ahead of David De Gea makes no sense to me whatsoever.

10. On a more positive note, I’m very glad to see our squad rotation pay off with a victory against a strong Premier League side. Yes, we played pretty poorly and looked vulnerable at times but even then, we were playing a good team and all that matters now is that we’re through to the next round whilst also giving various members of our first team an opportunity to rest before our big away game on Sunday. Let’s forget about this game for now and concentrate on our upcoming fixtures, some of which will almost certainly define our season. Come on United!