Daily Archives: August 24, 2012

Tactical View: Swansea v West Ham

Nathan Dyer’s dribbling will give George McCartney problems

Two sides won 5-0 on the opening day of the Premier League season – and West Ham are facing both in the next two weekends. A home game against Fulham awaits, but first Sam Allardyce must travel to the Liberty Stadium, where Swansea only lost four times last season.

In basic terms, this is short passing football versus long ball football. But the situation is slightly more complex than that, and it’s important to note that Swansea seem to have evolved from the way Brendan Rodgers had them playing last season. It may have only been one game, but in the 5-0 win over QPR last weekend, Michael Laudrup had Swansea playing more quickly and purposefully in possession – it was still need and tidy, but only Newcastle attempted more long balls last weekend.

Though Swansea have lost some key men, the signing of Michu has already proven one of the shrewdest moves of the summer transfer window. He was prolific from an advanced midfield position with Rayo Vallecano last season, and he plays an intriguing role. He often seems like a forward played out of position – he likes working with his back to goal, and he takes every opportunity to storm into the box. He won’t score a brace every week, but last weekend’s goals are a taste of things to come.

His goalscoring potential has been recognised already – the odds reflect his threat – but he can also be in danger of picking up bookings. Last season he collected nine yellows and one red card, a high number for an attacking player, and last weekend at Loftus Road he conceded five fouls, more than any other player. Against a physical West Ham side, I think he’ll get stuck in – perhaps going against the stereotype for a Spanish Premier League newcomer, and quite fancy his chances to be shown a card at 5.04/1.

It’s worth noting that Laudrup’s side  scored four of their five goals after the ball was played from deep, central positions towards the ‘D’ on the edge of the box – West Ham will be much stronger in that zone than QPR, who were very open with Park Ji-Sung in a central midfield role. Swansea may have to look wider.

Allardyce’s side is as you’d expect – they’re direct, they hit long balls towards Carlton Cole, and they get midfield runners into the penalty box. Mark Noble has improved his goalscoring ability, while Kevin Nolan has hit double figures in the past three seasons (admittedly, twice in the Championship). With Matt Taylor on the left and Ricardo Vaz Te on the right, West Ham have an unspectacular attacking department, but they’re solid, consistent, and all played together last season. Matt Taylor against Angel Rangel should be an interesting battle, while Leon Britton must watch Nolan’s runs.

I always worry about George McCartney playing left-back against a quick winger, having seen him torn apart by the sheer pace of Theo Walcott a few years ago at the Emirates. Here, he’ll be up against Nathan Dyer, a very tricky customer, and I think he might struggle. McCartney committed three fouls against Aston Villa last weekend, while Dyer won five fouls against QPR, getting Fabio da Silva booked in the process. Back McCartney to be booked at around 4.03/1.

I wouldn’t usually back two separate players to be cautioned in the same game. However,  this match will be refereed by Martin Atkinson, who produced more bookings per game than any other Premier League official last season, and started his campaign with four soft ones at St James’ Park last weekend. The stats indicate cards, and Michu and McCartney seem good candidates.

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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


West Ham Focus – Nolan the man to beat the drop



Kevin Nolan was once on the brink of an England call-up, and while at the age of 30 that chance has come and gone, he still possesses all of the qualities that turned heads all those years ago and is putting them to use for West Ham.


He played most of his career at Bolton Wanderers under Sam Allardyce, and although they went their separate ways for a while they soon found themselves back together recreating the good times in the claret and blue of West Ham. Nolan spent 10 years at Bolton in a successful team that qualified for the UEFA Cup twice, both times reaching the knockout phase. After the departure of Jay-Jay Okocha in 2006 he was appointed captain by Allardyce and excelled as Bolton cemented themselves as a Premier League side.

In January 2009 he signed for Newcastle for a £4m fee but due to the unrest at the club, they were relegated in May. Nolan however played an integral part of the Newcastle side that bounced straight back to the Premier League in style, winning the championship with ease. He was voted Championship player of the season and appointed Newcastle captain soon after.

Back in the Premier League under Allardyce once more, but now at West Ham, Nolan is again club captain and an integral part of the team. If the Hammers are to survive this season he will need to produce match-winning performances week in and week out, whether that includes scoring goals or getting involved in the midfield scraps to protect a lead.

After the victory over Aston Villa on Saturday Allardyce likened Nolan’s ability to ghost into the box to former England captain David Platt. This ability in a footballer is rare – it cannot be coached or moulded and it is hard for the opposition to stop.  It is an attribute that many players long to acquire and while having natural ability and technique is all well and good, finding the time and space on the pitch to use those skills is the challenge all footballers face during a match.

Yet Nolan’s qualities do not solely lie with his attacking attributes. He has the desire and passion to get stuck in with the best and come out on top. His work rate is second to none and it is for these reasons he has become such a favourite with the fans. His experience of playing in Premier League dog fights will be a huge boost for the Hammers over the course of the season. He will guide the younger players as well as the new signings through the tougher months and his knowledge will be invaluable to his team mates.  

Nolan is a special talent and although he never did get that England cap he arguably deserved, his efforts at club level will continue to be cherished by those he played for. And should he manage to keep West Ham up, he will surely be remembered as one of the club’s Premier League greats.

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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


West ham boss Sam Allardyce still keen on pursuit of Liverpool FC’s Andy Carroll

WEST HAM boss Sam Allardyce has not given up hope of signing Andy Carroll – despite spending £10.75m on Wolves winger Matt Jarvis.

Reds manager Brendan Rodgers said he would be a ‘nut case’ to let Carroll go – but that has not deterred Allardyce.

The Hammers boss said: “Many things in the final week of the transfer window  emerge and should it be the case that we would be able to do something then I  think it would probably only be a loan.

“My problem is there may not be funds available for Andy now.

“If Andy became available or anybody became available and they wanted to join  West Ham I would ask the owners. At the moment that is not the case and we just  have to wait and see if and when that situation arises.

“If we play Carlton Cole, Nicky Maynard, Ricardo Vaz Te, (Modibo) Maiga – they are all players that play in the front three wide positions.

“What isn’t there is a proven Premier League goalscorer, apart from Carlton  Cole who can get 10 or 11 goals a season. Nicky, Ricardo and Maiga are not  proven so you hope it will be all right, but you cannot tell until you get eight  or 10 games in.”

The Hammers agreed a loan fee with Liverpool this month with a view to a  permanent deal, but the 23-year-old did not want to move to Upton Park.

England-capped Jarvis is likely to be involved at the weekend against Swansea  provided the deal is completed in time and Allardyce did not hold back in his  praise of the 26-year-old. “Certainly from an attacking sense this is one of the  best final-third crossers in the Premier League,” he said.

“His stats are extremely good and he delivers in the business end of the  field.

“When you are trying to create in the Premier League and score goals, he is  one of those players who can certainly give defences a really hard time and that  is what we are hoping he can do for us.”

Last season’s facts do seem to back up Allardyce’s claims, as Jarvis  attempted the most crosses in the top flight and had the highest cross  completion rate.

Those statistics are even more remarkable given the fact the former  Gillingham man was playing in a side that finished bottom of the table and  Allardyce said: “This is a player of dribbling skills, pace, trickery, that not  only provides chances but also relieves pressure on your  defence.”

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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Uncategorized