Chelsea v West Ham 19:45
Samuel Eto’o answered questions over the goal scoring prowess of Chelsea’s strikers with a hat trick against rivals Manchester United in their last game.
Eto’o was in ruthless form, being one of eight players to get three shots on target in the last round of games but the only one to score all three.
Chelsea fans will be pleased to see Eto’o contributing goals, as their midfield have been their most potent attacking threat this season. Eden Hazard has had 27 shots at goal, getting 66.67% on target. Discounting players who have had fewer than 25 shots at goal, only Aaron Ramsey has been more accurate in his shooting than Hazard.
Eto’o received his service form an unusual source against Manchester United. In a midfield boasting the likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar it is surprising to see that two of the assists for Eto’o’s goals came from Gary Cahill in the Chelsea defence.
César Azpilicueta has enjoyed a fantastic season for Chelsea, keeping veteran left back Ashley Cole on the subs bench in recent weeks. He put in another all action performance against Manchester United, attempting 11 tackles and winning 7. He was one of only two players to attempt ten or more tackles in the last round of games, along with Fulham’s Scott Parker.
Despite a shaky start to his Chelsea career, Brazilian Willian has shown in recent weeks why Chelsea were so keen to snatch him from under the noses of rivals Tottenham. He continued his impressive form against the Champions, as through his interlinking with compatriot Oscar and Eden Hazard, he managed to complete 25 passes in Manchester United’s half – this was more than any other player in the Chelsea squad.
West Ham dropped into the relegation zone after a 3-1 defeat to Newcastle in their last game. Carlton Cole scored but also missed a golden opportunity to equalize and make it 2-2.
Regardless of that miss, Cole has an impressive scoring rate of one every 122 minutes since returning to West Ham, taking his tally to 12 so far this season. To put his goalscoring in to context, Chelsea and Cameroon star Samuel Eto’o also has 2 goals at an almost identical rate of one every 119.8 minutes, although Cole averages just three shots per goal compared to Eto’o’s 4.17 shots per goal.
West Ham fans should take heart that despite the scoreline they put Newcastle under pressure for large periods of the game. Newcastle defender Williamson made 22 clearances in the game, the highest number in the last round of fixtures.
Mark Noble is doing his best to shed stereotypical views that West Ham are a long ball team, and has completed 599 passes in the opposition half this season. That makes him the fourth highest ranked English player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for passes. Encouragingly for Eng;and fans, currently nine of the top 20 passers in the Premier League are English, compared to just four of 20 at the end of last season.
Neutrals must feel some sympathy for manager Sam Allardyce due to the number of injuries that have ravaged the squad, decimating the defence in particular. The signing of Roger Johnson, on loan from Wolves, is very much a stop-gap for the Hammers as their options in the pivotal centre-half role are extremely limited. Johnson, however, has made a respectable start to life at Upton Park and he produced a perfectly competent display against the Magpies. In total, he made 14 defensive contributions (based on clearances, blocks, interceptions and tackles won), this was the second most in the Hammers’ squad.