Kevin Nolan’s services are no longer required at West Ham as the side proved in the thriller against Tottenham on Sunday that they’re a much better team without him.
The Hammers club captain has been a rotation player this term but has still featured in 19 matches in all competitions. When Sam Allardyce has a full roster to choose from, though, it is quite clear that Nolan should get nowhere near the starting XI.
At White Hart Lane the Irons outclassed and outplayed their opponents for 70 minutes before they sat back and encouraged the comeback that ensued. It was Cheikhou Kouyate’s presence in the midfield – over Nolan’s – that made the difference.
While Allardyce has been prone to changing West Ham’s system to accommodate Nolan, usually when Andy Carroll’s also on the pitch, he has tried playing him in the diamond formation that has been so successful this term, too.
Nolan had probably one of his best games of the season in this system during the recent 1-1 draw with Manchester United, to be fair to him, however he simply doesn’t contribute enough to the team on a regular basis.
Kouyate, on the other hand, excels in a midfield three with Mark Noble and Alex Song as they all are very athletic and buzz around everywhere, making tackles, interceptions and getting the ball forward quickly. As we saw against Spurs they are a formidable force and can dictate matches with their power, tenacity and quality in possession.
To put it bluntly, the Hammers are a better team in a diamond system and the diamond system is better without Nolan, which may spell the end for the 32-year-old in east London.
NOT GOOD ENOUGH
In his 19 appearances this campaign Nolan has one goal, one assist, 78% passing accuracy and created eight chances. These statistics are distinctly average and they don’t get any better from a defensive point of view.
While West Ham’s win record with him in the team isn’t much different to without, their performances are certainly more entertaining when he’s not involved as the side looks more balanced.
Nolan often slows the play down or fails to cover the ground needed in the midfield area which can leave the team exposed or vulnerable to the counter attack. This is reason enough for Allardyce to leave his ‘golden boy’ out of the side for the foreseeable future, and perhaps even look to sell him in the summer.
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