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Talking Tactics

Aerial specialist can get West Ham ahead

Adrian Clarke 9 Jul 2019
Declan Rice, West Ham

Adrian Clarke says Hammers can improve in 2019/20 if they up their game in the air and from crossing

Adrian Clarke looks at key areas where each Premier League club can improve ahead of the 2019/20 season.

West Ham United

Manuel Pellegrini has a wealth of creative options heading into the new campaign.

New signing Pablo Fornals plus Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere, Robert Snodgrass and Mark Noble are all capable of unlocking Premier League opponents.

The key for Pellegrini now is to bring in a couple of deadly finishers after the departures of Marko Arnautovic, Andy Carroll and Lucas Perez.

Top target

West Ham are particularly missing a front man who poses an aerial threat.

Aside from winger Michail Antonio, the club’s forwards rarely attempted headed efforts on goal last season.

West Ham forwards in 2018/19
Player  Headed shots Mins/headed shot Headed goals
Michail Antonio 14 149.9 3
Andy Carroll 8 56.9 0
Chicharito 6 222.8 2
Marko Arnautovic 4 499.7 1
Andriy Yarmolenko 1 460 0

With so many technical midfielders capable of clipping accurate balls into the box, it is vital the Hammers seek out a new target man.

If they can also add another striker noted for his pace and sharp runs, their attack will have the right kind of variety.

Freshening up the full-backs

Pellegrini did not settle on a preferred full-back pairing in 2018/19.

Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell shared duties on the left flank, with 19 and 18 starts respectively.

And Pablo Zabaleta and Ryan Fredericks also switched regularly on the other side, making 23 and 12 starts.

Defensively they all struggled at times but they also lacked an end-product in the final third.

There was a particular shortfall in service from the right flank.

In a combined 35 starts, Zabaleta and Fredericks only produced 13 successful crosses.

West Ham full-backs 2018/19
  Starts Succ. crosses Key passes open play Assists
Cresswell 18 11 13 1
Masuaku 19 4 13 1
Zabaleta 23 8 6 1
Fredericks 12 5 3 0

So while Pellegrini’s No 1 priority this summer may be to sign an attacker, one other area that can be improved at London Stadium is at full-back.

Tomorrow: Clarke on Leicester City

See: Adrian Clarke on how each club can improve

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