Friday, 14 February 2014

Allardyce Repaying Faith

Following a 5-0 dismantling in the F.A. cup by Nottingham Forrest and a 9-0 drubbing in the League Cup by Man City the pressure was well and truly on Sam Allardyce, however West Ham stuck by their manager and their recent results are paying dividends.

West Ham are now undefeated in their last four Premier League matches since the defeat at the hands of Newcastle and Yohan Cabaye, which seems like an eternity  ago. In the process they’ve accrued 10 of a possible 12 points and conceded no goals. The run began with an impressive rear guard action in the 0-0 away at Chelsea and has been followed up by three successive 2-0 wins against Swansea, Villa and Norwich.

West Ham now sit in 11th place, although they are just 4 points above the relegation zone, as is the congestion this season. However, similar performances to those in recent weeks should soon dispel rumours of relegation and ensure job security for Big Sam.

The defensive performances have been aided by the fact that Allardyce has been able to select the same back four in each of the games, Demel, Tomkins, Collins and McCartney. These were players who were missing when West Ham were on their poor run of form.

Collins has been a rock at the heart of the West Ham defence, he’s made the most clearances of any player in the past four games, an average of 17.5 per game. He’s also been making an average of 2 tackles and winning 4 headers per game.

Goalkeeper Adrián deserves praise too, he’s now kept 5 clean sheets in 8 Premier League appearances. In the 8 games he’s played he’s only conceded 9 Premier League goals (although on each occasion he’s conceded he’s let in 3 and he conceded 6 against Manchester City in the League Cup). He’s doing well enough to keep an experienced keeper like Jaaskelinen out, which says a lot about the level at which he is playing.

Of the 6 goals West Ham have scored in the last four games, Kevin Nolan has managed to score 4. The performances have been Nolan back to his best, real captain’s performances, Nolan has atoned for the red card and suspension he received for a petulant kick against Fulham. Goals have been something of an issue for the Hammers all season so it’s important that players like Nolan contribute.

Nolan’s been putting in shifts defensively as well, against Swansea he made 7 tackles, disrupting their play from further up the pitch. Mark Noble has been consistent as always, creating 7 chances in the four games. Defensively he has been solid too, making an average of 3.5 tackles per game.

Andy Carroll’s return has had some impact on West Ham’s recent form, he provided 2 assists against Swansea, before being sent off. Carroll proved he was back to near his best winning 10 headers in both the 64 minutes he played against Chelsea and the 59 minutes he played against Swansea. Although, the red card is an issue it shows that the aggression is back in his game.

The Nolan-Carroll partnership is one that will be key to West Ham staying up this season, it’s one that was effective at Newcastle and reuniting the pair looks to be a good move by Allardyce. They feed off each other well, with Carroll occupying the defenders, leaving space for Nolan to do what he does best.

West Ham now have a short break due to their F.A. cup exit and next up face Southampton at the Boleyn ground. It’ll be a close fought game, but if West Ham can produce their best they can push Southampton all the way. 

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