Filed under: The Technical Area - Posted by: Paul
While Brendan Rodgers struggles for attacking options and John Henry issues an open letter to Liverpool fans after a limp display against Arsenal, the Reds unwanted forward, Andy Carroll, made an instant impact for West Ham last Saturday. With the on-loan Carroll installed as the lone frontman, Sam Allardyce’s side blew away Fulham 3-0 at Upton Park – in this week’s Technical Area, we take a look as to how his presence affected both the team’s overall play and the performance of a couple of his new Hammers’ team mates:
Looking at West Ham’s average position over their first two home games, Carroll’s impact is obvious. Against Villa in Gameweek 1 (above left) with Carlton Cole (9) leading the line, Ricardo Vaz Te (12) was the most advanced Hammer when in possession, with Cole often dropping back to receive the ball. Last weekend, however, Carroll (8) gave the side a real focal point up top (above right), affording his side a more compact shape behind. Looking at the stats comparison between Carroll and Cole in Gameweek 3 and 1 respectively, the difference is marked.
Despite playing 68 minutes against Fulham to Cole’s 81 minutes in the Villa match, Carroll was far more involved in West Ham’s overall play. He made 49 touches overall to Cole’s 29, with 35 touches in the opponents’ final third – almost double the 20 managed by Cole in Gameweek 1, while Carroll also saw nine touches in the opponents’ box, a tally up on Cole’s six.
|Time||Touches||Touches Final 3rd||Touches Pen Box||Passes Final 3rd||Chances Created||Aerial Duels||Aerial Duels Won|
In terms of distribution, Carroll made almost three times the number of successful passes in the final third than Cole (11 to four) and his aerial presence was obvious – he was involved in 15 challenges in the air, winning nine, while Cole won four of nine against Villa. Surprisingly, West Ham made less crosses with Carroll leading the line than Cole (22 to 24) but what was noticeable was the overall balance was better. Against Villa, with Vaz Te stationed so far forward, only 33.3% of their crosses came from the right, whereas the cross distribution was 50% from both flanks in the 3-0 win over Fulham.
Analysing Carroll’s stats from Saturday against his Liverpool figures from last term, it’s already clear to see that Allardyce is utilising him in a more efficient manner. He averaged just 18.3 touches in the final third for the Anfield side in 2011/12 – almost half the weekend’s 35, while he also saw more of the ball in the box (nine to 6.3) and also won more than double the number of headers (nine to 4.3) than the previous campaign. Allardyce is wasting little time in playing to Carroll’s strengths, then, with a clear reliance on the new number eight to step us a key figure in West Ham’s season; while the new boy failed to produce any attacking returns at the weekend, his presence alone has made a definite difference to those around him.
While the above average position maps show Nolan (4) similarly positioned when on the ball over the two home games, the Hammers skipper was far more involved against Fulham. Nolan has 52 touches in the 3-0 win compared to just 31 against Villa in Gameweek 1, an average of 1.8 per minute to 2.4. The midfielder was afforded more space to play in midfield – he received 35 passes in the Cottagers match, compared to only 14 against Villa and also received double the number of passes in the final third (12 to six) with Carroll leading the line.
|Touches||Mins/ Touch||Passes Received||Passes Received Final 3rd||Touches Penalty Box||Goal Attempts|
Intriguingly, Nolan still managed the same number of touches in the penalty area and number of goal attempts in both games (two and three respectively), though with his goal handing the Hammers the lead within a couple of minutes, there was little need to continually bomb forward.
At a glance, the difference between the number of chances created in both home games and the initial position of each opportunity is dramatic. West Ham made just six “key passes” in the Villa game (above left) with three of those produced from a central area in the attacking third.
Against Fulham, however, there was a substantial improvement, with Ricardo Vaz Te, in particular, proving to be a strong creative presence on the right of the front three. The Hammers created 15 chances against Martin Jol’s men (above right), with 10 of those coming in the middle of the final third and a look at Vaz Te’s stats in both games highlights the difference in his role. In the Villa game, he made just seven successful passes in the final third and created two chances – at the weekend, he completed 22 passes in the final third and made seven “key passes” that led to goalscoring opportunities and picked up an assist. Clearly, Carroll’s introduction is not only seeing a positive effect in the Hammers overall play, a better overall balance could well boost the prospects of a number of West Ham options if they continue in the same vein over the weeks ahead.
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