After watching the brilliant performances of Joe Cole, Jack Collison and Alou Diarra against Manchester United in the FA Cup at the weekend, it poses the question: Who would be in Sam Allardyce’s best midfield for West Ham United?
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Well, I don’t think there is a definitive answer to this question. With the return to fitness of Collison and Diarra and the signing of Cole, what it does mean is that we have stiff competition for a place in the team. Add to these players, the regulars of Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble, Mohamed Diame, Ricardo Vaz Te and Matt Jarvis and the squad players Matt Taylor and Gary O’Neil and we have a lot of options.
However, the options that we have got means we can play a team to suit the opposition, and it also means we can rotate players within the squad, meaning they can have a rest and hopefully, not pick up injuries.
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Diame and Collison have the ability to break up play and take the ball into the oppositions final third, setting up attacks quickly. Noble and Diarra like to sit in front of the back 4, be tough in the tackle, and play the little passes to the wingers. This may also free up Matt Jarvis to be able to use his attacking ability more, and I hope we will get to see the massive potential he has shown, and turn it into more consistent performances. Joe Cole is hopefully going to become an asset to the side, providing the skill and creativity in the final third that we have desperately been lacking. We saw in his second debut, the quality he has when delivering the ball into the box. Ricardo Vaz Te is his usual inconsistent self this season, one week he looks world class, the next he looks Blue Square Premier – he will always hold a place in our hearts for scoring the winner in the Playoff, but I’m not sure he has the quality to play in the EPL.
Matt Taylor and Gary O’Neil will provide vital cover within the squad, a squad which has been massively under pressure with the amount of injuries we suffered. They are not glamorous players, but they are sort of reliable, seasoned pro that every squad needs to succeed. I will be surprised if they stay in the summer, but lets continue to make them feel part of the club, despite the limited roles they are going to have over the next few months.
I have left one player until last, as he has split opinions amongst West Ham fans since his arrival, and that’s the club captain, Kevin Nolan. Nolan was the first person Allardyce wanted when he first joined the club. With Nolan, you know you will always get a captains performance, and there is no doubt that last season he was instrumental in helping galvanise the squad, restore some team spirit and passion, and of course, popped up with a lot of goals from midfield. However, I can’t help but think that recently, his performances have dipped somewhat. He is still our leader, and I don’t think Allardyce will drop him, but the one thing that he brought to the side was goals, and they have dried up in recent weeks. I still think he is a key player within the team, and I hope to see his form pick up in the next few games, and pop up, like he does, with a goal or two.
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I think it’s safe to say that Allardyce is putting together an extremely good squad, and with the quality and strength in depth we have in midfield, can only bode well for the rest of the season and beyond.
COME ON YOU IRONS!!
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