Date: 11th September 2019 at 7:00am
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OPINION

This season at West HamĀ United has once again seen the resumption of the debate from the last campaign about who is the bestĀ partner for Issa Diop at the heart of the Hammers defence.

That’s been a conundrum that has plagued manager Manuel Pellegrini for some time, but he seems to be getting it right at the minute with Angelo Ogbonna alongside the Frenchman.

However, concern still remains over the sometimes inconsistent Italy international, something echoed by journalist Sam Inkersole on Tuesday. He wrote for Football London that: “Ogbonna especially is a confidence player so no doubt the manager will be drilling into him some words of encouragement to keep his good run of form going.”

Pellegrini surely must follow the Hammers correspondent’s advice and tell Ogbonna about what a great job he has done for the team so far this term.

There have been definite, tangible steps forward from the 31-year-old so far this time round. When you look at the statistics, as per WhoScored.com, you can see that Ogbonna is looking stronger in some key areas.

The former Juventus man has improved his tally for tackles, clearances and blocks per game this season, with the former ballooning up from 1.3 last time out to 2.7 this campaign. His blocks have also improved in a big way, from 4.1 to 6 per outing.

Ogbonna is also being dribbled past less often than he was las time out, something which has historically proven to be something of a problem for him. Plus, his overall average WhoScored rating is now 6.98, up from 6.74.

That’s not to say that he is now an even match for Diop – who is perhaps slightly overrated himself – but this is certainly a superior partnership to Diop-Fabian Balbuena.

To ensure the duo’s fine form continues, though, Pellegrini needs to man-manage Ogbonna correctly, and so the Chilean must do whatever he can to keep the veteran’s spirts high.