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Stats say we don’t need a striker

By Mike Manera


Several people have mentioned recently their worry that much money and time has been spent into recruiting defenders and attacking midfielders believing instead we need a new striker.

But after taking a look at last season’s statistics I would have to disagree.

OK, I get that we can make the same stats have very different meanings but I think our new manager has got it bang on so far, and here is why… !

Let’s start in attack. West Ham finished last season in a flattering 13th position with an ugly goal difference of -20. We had the joint worst goals conceded (along with relegated Stoke City) but scored a very reasonable 48 goals. Outside of the top six (who were in a league of their own last season) only Leicester City scored more goals than us.

For the uninitiated, those stats may make us look like a cavalier attacking team, often caught out at the back but of course we all know nothing could be further from the truth. We were defensive and often dull.

The fact is we were 17th in the league for the “Shots” statistic, with 372 during the season. Only Swansea, Huddersfield and Everton had less shots during the season than us.

Yet we finished eighth best goal scored. What that says is we created little but converted a lot. In fact, we are 6th in the league for shot conversion, with 17.3%. Spurs are behind us in 7th place, and they have Harry Kane.

So, what happened at the back? We let in the joint most goals – very grim.  Yet I, like many people, felt that Ogbonna and Rice had a reasonable season at the heart of our defence. How can that be when our defence is statistically the worst?

We rate in the top 10 for all the main defensive indicators, the ones you want to be in the bottom 10 for. We made the 9th most tackles, the 5th most blocks, the 9th most clearances and 6th most saves. In contrast, champions Manchester City were either bottom or close to bottom for all of those stats and had the best defence in the league (and still scored 106 goals). And yet most of us would not associate Manchester City with a tight defence.

OK Einstein, I hear you think, what does this mean? My interpretation of these statistics is simple. Our defence was busy and conceded because we didn’t have the ball. When we did have the ball, we didn’t create enough, but we did well with the little we did create. Maybe it reads like that to me as it tallies with how I remember last season.

Given that Pellegrini’s main philosophy is “if we have the ball they can’t score” then his recruitment to date makes perfect sense.

Creative footballers to create more and keep the ball, new defenders to stop the opposition when we don’t have the ball. Statistically speaking, it’s what we need.

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About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon

8 comments on “Stats say we don’t need a striker

  1. We need a striker or a 10 – we have no 10 if Arnie plays up 10.

  2. If you look at the conversion rate for individual players last season, Marko Arnautovic who was our main threat had a relatively poor 15% conversion rate.

    Compare that to players at other clubs and Glen Murray at Brighton, Callum Wilson at Bournemouth and Abdoulaye Doucoure at Watford all had higher rates.

    Chicharito’s rate is a lot higher, but his goals per game stats are poor and so are his shots per game. I’d also point out that John Stones scored more goals than him in Russia.

    With Carroll injured again and the threat of departures upfront, I’d rather have another option.

  3. Mike you’ve got a bit of a false economy here, the stats on the successful conversion of our attack last season hide how many strikers were needed to achieve those stats. We used 7 players as strikers Carroll, Arnautovic, Ayew, Hernandez, Sakho, Antionio and Hugill. Considering we have already sold Ayew, Sakho and Hugil is likely to leave and of course Carroll is out injured again. We are definitely short on strikers with only two fit regular senior starters and of course Arnie has played upfront for half a season plus a few random games when needed at other clubs . Even if you made an argument for both Antonio and Yarmolenko and maybe one of Toni Martinez or Marcus Browne we simply don’t have enough bodies with first team experience and natural ability as a striker to repeat those numbers especially when playing a new system that will need time to bed in and potentially requiring two strikers up front.
    MP has said that he’s looking for a Carroll replacement/ cover and with Hugill likely to go there will be 1 striker minimum if not 2 coming in this window. Probably loans, cheap deals or frees but we do need strikers no matter how well we took our chances last year.

  4. To me it says we had a weak midfield that was played through easily on numerous occasions. And had our best defender Reid (when he’s fit) missing through injury. Our goal difference was bumped up by conceding a lot of goals in certain games. It would be interesting to compare how many goals were conceded under Bilic compared to Moyes because it feels like we conceded fewer under Moyes. I might be wrong though.

  5. Mike …..Forget about last season or any in the recent past. West Ham United will be a very different team this coming season with so many new players and a long overdue, positive coaching set up in charge They may take six or seven games to gel, but this is a squad that can challenge for the top six positions and win a cup. This will be the start of a West Ham team we’ve always wanted.

  6. We’ve all heard the expression; Lies, Damn lies and ….statistics…?
    When looking at last seasons games, the defence played well for much of the times, however, we repeatedly got hit on the break and having gone 1 down, were more likely to give away a 2nd and often 3rd and 4th
    Example: Liverpool at home for example, the first 35 minutes we were well in the game, then when pushing for the opener, hit on the break 0-1 down, followed by a capitulation on the 2nd half.
    ManUre Opening day – 1-0 at half time, 2-0 87 minutes then Boom Boom! 4-0 goal difference…
    Others include Newcaslte, Everton and Swansea away, Brighton, Burnley Scallipool at home, all games where West Ham could have had a point……

    Don’t get me wrong, there was some dire football played last year, but to be ‘flattered’ in 13th, I am not so sure…..
    Recall Southampton away (3-2) absolutely shocking refereeing and 2 penalties against us to lose 3 points that were in the bag….?

    Ranting now… 🙁

  7. Mike, I’ve just checked your twitter profile and it says that you’re a comedian. Sorry for being a bit slow, but that probably explains the article?

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