Another week another Mark Noble masterclass in the middle of the West Ham United midfield. The Hammers skipper excelled once again in his side’s 2-0 victory over Manchester United on Sunday.
The 32-year-old bossed the middle of the park alongside his protege Declan Rice, never giving the United stars a moment’s rest, hustling and harrying them into producing a hugely lacklustre effort.
While the majority of the coverage of Sunday’s game has been on how bad the visitors were at the London Stadium, it bears mentioning that that was largely because West Ham neutralised them and prevented them from doing anything positive.
Noble was a key part of that. He set the tempo from the word go and constantly looked to move the ball forward after winning back possession for his side.
The statistics show just how big of an impact he had against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. The Englishman had a shot on target, made a key pass and won an aerial duel [Source: WhoScored].
Furthermore he made 44 passes on Sunday, the second most of any Hammers, while attaining a strong 84.1% pass success rate. Six of those were long balls forward, with half of them being successful. That shows that, as mentioned earlier, Noble was always being positive when in possession.
He was busy defensively, too. Noble made one tackle and committed three fouls. While the latter isn’t necessarily a good thing, it shows that he was in amongst it and keen to disrupt United’s offensive rhythm. It’s safe to say that he achieved that aim.
The big thing now for Irons boss Manuel Pellegrini is ensuring that he manages the veteran skipper correctly. Wednesday’s Carabao Cup clash with Oxford United is an ideal game for him to get a rest, for example.
The festive period, as well, will be key. It’s simply not reasonable to have Noble starting each and every game over Christmas at his age. That’s where Jack Wilshere needs to come in and show his value to Pellegrini.
However, it was the captain who demonstrated his worth on Sunday. He produced a stunning display against the Red Devils. He must be preserved moving forward so that he can continue to play like that as the season goes on.