Talking Tactics

Kehrer pace makes him perfect partner for Zouma

By Adrian Clarke 27 Oct 2022

Adrian Clarke says the German defender has helped provide balance to the West Ham defence

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 14.

Thilo Kehrer (WHU)

The Hammers’ climb up the Premier League table owes plenty to their terrific defensive record.  

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Struggling to click into top gear as an attacking force, David Moyes has been reliant on the retention of a sturdy shape out of possession.  

Taking very few risks, West Ham United have been so solid that they are one of just two teams, along with Everton, not to have conceded more than two goals in a match so far in 2022/23.  

That consistency will provide the east Londoners with confidence ahead of a trip to fast-improving Manchester United this Sunday.  

A reliable rearguard 

Moyes’ men have done a great job at protecting goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.  

The top two sides, Arsenal and Manchester City, are the only teams with a better Expected Goals Against (xGA) than the Hammers, who rarely gift clear-cut opportunities to rival teams.  

2022/23 xGA
Man City 8.34
Arsenal 10.55
West Ham 11.65
Brighton 11.95
Newcastle 12.15

Shipping just 12 goals overall, West Ham are only two behind Newcastle United for the fewest goals conceded.

Able to set up in a 4-2-3-1 or with a back three, they are capable of restricting chances for a Man Utd side who are yet to hit top form inside the final third.  

They also travel north as the only top-flight side yet to concede from a set-piece.  

2022/23 Set-piece goals conceded
West Ham 0
Arsenal 1
Everton 1
Spurs 1
Liverpool 1

Across the last two-and-a-half seasons West Ham have lost 13 and drawn one of 14 matches away to the Premier League’s traditional "Big Six" clubs.  

Despite performing well under Moyes, the Hammers have struggled to take major scalps away from London Stadium.  

This season they performed well in the 2-1 defeat at Chelsea and the 1-0 reverse at Liverpool, but still ended up losing close-fought contests.  

Kehrer the ideal partner for Zouma

Summer signing Thilo Kehrer will be an important player for them as they target a clean sheet at Old Trafford.  

The 26-year-old defender, signed from Paris Saint-Germain, has successfully acclimatised to Premier League football, and is growing in confidence match-by-match.  

The Germany international is equally comfortable at right-back or centre-back, where he has been an ideal partner for Kurt Zouma.  

Kehrer is not strong in the air, but makes up for that with excellent anticipation, speed, mobility, and defensive acumen.  

He also wins an impressive 72.73 per cent of his tackles.  

The Hammers new boy has quality on the ball too, registering an 88.10 per cent pass accuracy so far.  

West Ham possession stats
  MW1-9 From MW10
Ave. possession 41.10% 52.96%

Earlier this season West Ham were probably guilty of sitting too deep, asking their defensive players to soak up an unnecessary amount of pressure.  

Across the last four matches we have witnessed a change in their approach.  

Moyes has instead asked his players to get on to the ball more often, and control matches through assured bouts of possession.  

They look a better side because of it, and it has helped the likes of Jarrod Bowen and Gianluca Scamacca find their form.  

In the past Moyes has taken a very defensive approach in trips away to the division’s leading lights, but this time around they could enjoy more possession.  

While his team are defensively sound, a more proactive approach might be on the cards.  

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