Stats show star man was simply exquisite against Palace

Lanzini

Saturday saw West Ham produce another masterful performance away from home, beating a Palace side that have been impressive themselves so far this season.

It looked as if the game was heading for a draw before Manuel Lanzini fired the Hammers into the lead late on. The Argentine then set up Dimitri Payet to cap off a memorable home win with a superbly taken goal that oozed the player’s wonderful class and ability.

Match of the Day highlighted the effect of Lanzini and Payet but to prove how good they really were, a quick look at the match stats shows their significant impact on the game.

Lanzini attempted an impressive 90 passes, the most of any West Ham player in 90 minutes this season. In fact, only Manchester City defensive midfielder Ferndandinho has managed more passes in a game involving West Ham this season (94). What is even more impressive is his success rate, 84 of those 90 passes reached a teammate. These are fantastic figures for an attacking midfielder, showing his ability to keep the ball and pick out other players, something that is vital away from home. Unsurprisingly, Lanzini also played the most attacking third passes in the game (29), showing his attacking intent by passing the ball in dangerous areas.

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Lanzini’s sea of blue shows a man in form [via statszone]

These stats suggest that West Ham’s little Argentine is incredibly reliable with the ball despite his attacking approach. It gets even better for ‘the jewell’ as nobody pulled off more successful take-ons than him in the game (6). Comparing this to Palace showman Yannick Bolasie, the Congo winger only managed three successful take-ons despite his nine attempted efforts.

Out of West Ham’s top 10 pass combinations in the Palace game, Lanzini features in seven of them. Although his style of play makes many think that he is a luxury player, the accuracy and sheer brilliance of this information suggest that the Hammers have one heck of a player on their hands. Having that kind of an influence on the game is fantastic considering he was playing his football in Qatar a few months ago.

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West Ham’s top pass combinations

Dimitri Payet was not at his rip-roaring best on Saturday but he still produced the goods when it mattered. He created six chances in the game, three more than second-placed Victor Moses. He played 28 attacking third passes, just one off Manuel Lanzini’s total. The Frenchman was always looking to supply crosses into the box for Diafra Sakho. Out of the 13 crosses attempted, four were successful. When this is compared to second-placed Pape Soure with a total of 1 out of 4, it shows just how effective Payet is in wide areas.

Squawka now rates Payet as the third best player in the league right now with Alexis Sanchez and Riyad Mahrez the only players rated higher. No player has played more key passes in the league this season (35). Mesut Ozil is currently four behind Payet in second place.

Overall, the Hammers have two very creative, efficient and deadly players that are hitting top form. Bilic hailed his team’s victory over Palace as his “proudest moment” since he took over at West Ham. With that in mind, Lanzini and Payet have certainly been players to be proud of so far this season.

Is this the team that can topple Palace?

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The international break is finally over and now we can get back to enjoying the Premier League. The fixture list looks very appealing for this weekend, particularly a ‘top of the table’ clash between Palace and West Ham. The game is sure to be a fast and free-flowing affair with both sides wanting to use their pacey outlets to hurt the opposition.

In terms of team news, we have both good and bad news. Andy Carroll should be available for the trip to Selhurst Park, with Angelo Ogbonna and Enner Valencia hopeful of a place on the bench.

However, Winston Reid and Aaron Cresswell will be assessed before kick-off to see if they will be able to play as will James Collins who has recently returned from a fantastic international period which saw Wales qualify for their first major tournament since 1958.

West Ham appear hopeful that in three weeks time, providing there are no new injury concerns between now and then, we should have a fully fit squad to choose from.

The difficulty that we face is stopping the high-flying Eagles. The addition of former West Ham target Bakary Sako has completed their attacking armoury and defensively they have strength and pace in abundance. Record signing Yohan Cabaye, another player who was strongly linked with a summer transfer to Upton Park, has taken Crystal Palace to a new level.

We have to be cautious of Palace who will want to dictate the play in front of their fans.

However, perhaps Palace’s eagerness to put on a good performance at home will play straight into our hands.

We have been at our best when counter attacking sides with our pace and accurate passing. I hope that we do give a performance after what I would consider two disappointing draws against Norwich and Sunderland and I hope we can improve on our successful start to the season.

My first XI vs. Crystal Palace:

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Bench:

Randolph, Jenkinson, Obiang, Antonio, Zarate, Carroll, Valencia/Jelavic

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COYI!

Combined XI: Bilic praises Palace midfielder, but would he get into the West Ham team?

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West Ham are set for a tough test tomorrow as they take on an in-form Crystal Palace side. Former Hammers boss Alan Pardew has developed the Eagles into an entertaining, attacking side that are certainly capable of beating anyone on their day.

Slaven Bilic was quick to point out the strengths of West Ham’s upcoming opponents:

“Palace are a good team, they are good in everything – defending, contacts, counter attacks,

“They also have Cabaye who can do special things on the pitch. They are doing really, really good. It is a London derby, it is a great game and it will be an extremely difficult test.”

Yohan Cabaye has been an excellent signing for Pardew as he has added a real touch of class to Palace’s midfield this season. The Hammers were reportedly interested in signing the French international but Dimitri Payet was always top of the wish list and offered more value for money.

There is no doubt that both sides are very evenly matched so it should be an intriguing encounter at Upton Park.

The fact that both sides are of similar ability led to the creation of a combined West Ham and Crystal Palace eleven:

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West Ham dominate the defence with Joel Ward slotting in at right-back. Scott Dann is a solid Premier League defender but Reid and Ogbonna just pip it. Yohan Cabaye is a player many West Ham fans admire, there’s certainly a decent balance in midfield with the Frenchman lining up alongside Kouyate.

Further up the pitch, Payet and Lanzini are the West Ham representatives with Yanick Bolasie occupying the left-hand side. Although Bolasie has been criticised for not having an end product, he does produce the occasional moment of magic and is always a crowd-pleaser. Up top, rather unsurprisingly, is Diafra Sakho.

Do you agree with the combined eleven? Comment below

Will this man win this week’s key battle?

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West Ham produced an excellent performance at Selhurst Park last season to record a 3-1 victory. Mauro Zarate, Stewart Downing and Carlton Cole sealed the three points for the Hammers that day but Bilic’s side will face a very different Palace team this time round.

Alan Pardew has turned the Eagles into an exciting outfit, playing with pace and width. The signing of Yohan Cabaye in the middle was an excellent acquisition as the Frenchman has been in excellent form so far this season.

The Hammers will feel that they can hurt Palace on the counter but the same can be said for Pardew’s side. It will be interesting to see what side keeps hold of the ball as both teams are suited to attacking quickly with purpose rather than breaking teams down.

Palace should look to be on the front foot with their home advantage with the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie causing problems for the Hammers’ defence out wide. It is in these areas of the pitch where the key battles will occur between wingers and full-backs.

This week’s battle features Palace’s Zaha and the Hammers’ Aaron Cresswell. In the Eagles’ last game against West Brom, Zaha was an absolute nightmare for the Baggies to deal with. Chris Brunt was up against the winger and he struggled all afternoon. No player in that game came close to matching Zaha’s nine successful take-ons and the fact that Chris Brunt made the highest amount of tackles out of anyone on the pitch clearly shows that he was busy (see below).

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Chris Brunt had a nightmare against Wilfried Zaha at Selhurst Park (Pic via fourfourtwo stats zone)

Whether it was shooting, creating chances or drawing a foul, Zaha was a threat throughout and it is absolutely vital that Cresswell produces a solid performance on Saturday. The 25-year-old has looked relatively solid since his nightmare against Bournemouth but Bilic must make sure that one-on-one situations involving Palace’s wingers and West Ham’s full-backs remain a rarity.

Cresswell made 17 passes in the attacking third against Sunderland, more than any other player on the opposition. The left-back will get opportunities to go forward but there must be cover when this happens as Palace will break when they get the chance.

Can Cresswell deal with the threat of Zaha? Will West Ham sit back and go for the counter? Comment below

Bilic confirms key players’ availability

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Slaven Bilic has spoken to the press ahead of the Crystal Palace game, outlining the latest injury news and Sam Allardyce’s comments.

Andy Carroll is expected to be back for the away trip to Palace whilst the likes of Ogbonna and Valencia are back in training:

“Enner played 20 minutes in the friendly against Reading and looked really good, he’s been out for a while so he still needs a few weeks. But when I see him in training he does things that make you think ’maybe he could 10 minutes on Saturday’, but I think it’ll be two weeks until he’s fully ready.”

Bilic also gave an update on Alex Song, he expects the midfielder to be available for selection within two to three weeks which is clearly great news for the club.

Sam Allardyce criticised Andy Carroll’s work rate for the club in what has been a week of controversial comments from the former Hammers manager. Bilic, on the other hand, disagrees with Big Sam:

“I heard what he said, when I arrived Andy was injured but he’s been working unbelievably hard to get fit. He’s a great professional, it’s hard when you’re working on your own every day but he did it. Since I’ve been here, in training and during his rehabilitation, he’s been top class.”

Dimitri Payet also made the news this week due to another omission from the French national squad. Bilic has heaped the praise on his star signing so far and today was no different:

“It’s hard when you don’t know the full situation. I know as a national manager, that it can be hard to select everyone. France have a wide pool to choose from, a lot of quality players. If you ask me do they have many players like Dimitri, then maybe not. There aren’t many players like him and I think he could fit into any national side in the world.

“Not only his quality on the pitch but off it too. He’s a quiet guy and quite shy but everyone likes working with him and he’s a great guy.”

Is this the best way to beat Palace this weekend?

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With new signing Victor Moses and fellow new boy Michail Antonio coming in it would seem as though the Hammers have a new lease of life.

For years Big Sam has toyed with us going to the extreme lengths of signing two England internationals in Stewart Downing and Matt Jarvis turning the former into a number 10 and the latter into a winger that wouldn’t get into a Sunday league team!

The deception of Big Sam actually playing with width was criminal. But with the introduction of a new man at the helm it seems as though our pleas for this desired width have been answered.

Victor Moses is as direct as you like, shown by his lung-bursting assist against Newcastle and Lanzini is as technically good as any player in our team and seems to have a sense of flair that we haven’t seen since the days of versatile wingers such as Yossi Benayoun.

This new system put into action by Slaven allows us to play free-flowing counter-attacking football, a revelation that is down to the impact of having out-and-out wingers, something we have not had for a long time.

Another benefit is that with pace out wide we now have a better transition from defence to attack and the players we have brought in seem to have the killer-instinct necessary to capitalise on these new-found chances.

Our next game away at Crystal Palace will be a staunch test for this newly-employed system. It is more than likely that Lanzini will be up against the attacking full back that is Pape Souare, with Palace old boy Victor Moses going up against former Liverpool man Martin Kelly or unsung hero Joel Ward.

It should be an entertaining game in which both teams will look to use the width and widen the play as it seems to be a successful trait for both teams.

Finally, although I expect to see Manuel Lanzini start and have been more than impressed by his start to life in East London I can’t help but have a desire to see Antonio start his first Premier League game for the Club. We will then be able to pass valid verdicts on the man we spent 7 million pounds on.

The ability he has shown at previous clubs ( pace power and a general direct sense of play ) could all be decisive factors against a Palace team high on confidence and could give a new edge to Slaven Bilic’s widening style of play.

Sam Allardyce will never truly understand West Ham fans

Sam Allardyce

Sam Allardyce’s comments about West Ham have been well documented the past couple of days and it’s easy to understand why.

The former Hammers boss has a new book to sell and he mentions the West Ham fans, painting them in quite a negative light:

“I felt the West Ham way was about wearing your heart on your sleeve and showing passion for the club and winning.

“But the fans were being brainwashed into thinking that, historically, the club had a particular style of play which was akin to Barcelona, which was potty.

“I once called the supporters deluded and I stand by that. I don’t know who invented the ‘West Ham way’ phrase, but it’s a millstone around the club’s neck.

“I’ve talked to my predecessors Alan Curbishley, Alan Pardew and Harry Redknapp and they got it in the neck from the crowd as much as I did.”

On the whole, Big Sam’s reign at West Ham was efficient. The club are now a secure Premier League side with high ambitions for the future. However, to call the fans deluded for a second time seems harsh. Also, Hammers fans don’t expect Barcelona-esque football; they just want to be entertained.

There were times last season when the fans were right to voice their opinion as the football being played was tedious, especially in the latter half of the season.

Allardyce mentioned how Bilic has a big challenge on his hands:

“The fans won’t turn up if West Ham are playing fantasy football and losing 5-3 every week. Slaven Bilic is the new man in the hotseat and good luck to him. He will need it.”

The thing is, if West Ham lose a game of football 5-3, chances are it’ll be entertaining. The Bournemouth game this season was a bit of a disaster and it certainly wasn’t boring. If a West Ham team wants to entertain and please the crowd, that is all most Hammers fans ask for.

So, Mr Allardyce, the West Ham Way is not some delusional fantasy, it’s a plea for a bit of footballing entertainment. In all fairness, Slaven Bilic is delivering that in abundance right now.