Much to Irons fans’ relief David Moyes once again guided West Ham to Premier League survival, which renders what would have been a crucial final day fixture for the Hammer against Aston Villa as nothing more than a procession for Saturday’s hosts. Going into the break West Ham were on top against Manchester United courtesy of a Michail Antonio penalty, but it was the man who usually steps up from 12 yards who was once again imperious.
It is a rarity to see anyone other than Mark Noble take a West Ham penalty, after all the 33-year-old has an incredible record of only having missed four of his 31 Premier League spot-kicks. But what has been even more remarkable of late is his tremendous return to form in the Hammers’ starting eleven.
Having provided consecutive assists in the Premier League, Noble was once again a hive of creativity playing six key passes, four more than opposite number Bruno Fernandes. The 33-year-old was central to all of the visitor’s attacking play, attempting 66 passes, 17 more than any other Iron throughout the clash with the Red Devils. Furthermore, only Declan Rice, 88.9, and Jarrod Bowen, 90, kept a higher pass accuracy than Noble’s 86.4 per cent against Moyes’ former side.
His passing statistics show just how integral the West Ham captain has become creatively over the last three fixtures which have seen him deployed in an attacking midfield role. Throughout the Irons’ previous three top-flight fixtures Noble has played 16 key passes, yielding two assist and seven points which have steered the Hammers to safety.
Though the defensive side of Noble’s game has diminished in a more advanced position, as he did not record a single tackle, interception, clearance or blocked shot, West Ham allowed Manchester United just four shots on target.
Overall in their last three matches, the Irons have conceded only two goals, suggesting the captain’s defensive influence is not required with Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice holding in midfield. Instead Noble can strut his stuff by contributing in the final third, that is precisely what he did against the Red Devils playing three accurate crosses and four accurate long balls.
Noble has been a revelation further forwards, and his contribution has helped the Hammers to secure their top-flight status for the ninth season in succession, after promotion in 2012. Given the enormous influence Noble has exerted over the past three matches, earning him an average rating of 7.38, it may be a common sight to see the Englishman filling the role of creator once more next term.