Danalytics: West Ham v. Norwich City Post-Match Analysis
Hello and welcome to the first edition of Danalytics, where I, Dan take you on an analytical deep dive of the previous match. On the 31st of August 2019, West Ham defeated Norwich City 2-0 with goals from both Sebastien Haller (24’) and Andriy Yarmolenko (56’). Despite almost equal possession (West Ham’s 49% to Norwich City’s 51%), West Ham controlled this match after a shaky opening ten minutes. Attacking down both wings, and playing with a high defensive line, West Ham took 18 shots, 8 on target, and converted two of their three big chances (whoscored.com). West Ham’s defense was solid and Fabianski was largely untroubled, albeit one mistake by Fredericks led to a shot on goal. Noble and Rice both had strong games in midfield controlling the flow of the match and protecting the back four. Yet, this match revealed just how dangerous West Ham can be this season with their power, pace and creativity in the attacking third.
If Lanzini is a magician, Anderson is a Wizard. West Ham’s South American duo of Anderson and Lanzini were at their best and gave West Ham fans a glimmer of hope as to what the duo can do when playing together. As evidenced by their heat map below (sofascore.com), the duo is given the freedom to roam, and both players pushed the ball toward the Norwich City net with power and precision, evading would be defenders (successful dribbles 12/14) and crafted a combined 7 passes that led to shots; half of the teams total.
Both Lanzini and Anderson should have been on the score sheet if not for excellent saves from the Norwich City goalkeeper, Tim Krul. Lanzini, unmarked just outside the six yard box, connected with his head (expected goal of .42) requiring a reaction save from Krul in the 79th minute on what should have been Masuaku’s second assist of the evening. In the 80th minute, Anderson powered through the Norwich City defense, laid it off to Snodgrass who then set up Felipe for a one timer (.03 expected goal) into the outstretched arm of Krul at the bottom right hand corner.
West Ham not only relied on their creative players in Lanzini and Anderson, but also utilized their fullbacks in attack. Both Masuaku and Fredericks routinely overlapped with Anderson and Yarmolenko and were able to pump balls into the box.
Fredericks, arguably the fastest player on the pitch each week, is easily able to get in behind opposing defenses, but his balls into the box do not connect with attacking players moving into the box. Against Norwich City, Fredericks only completed 70% of his passes and did not connect on either of his two crosses into the box. However, he did complete one pass that led to a chance on goal.
Masuaku on the other hand, was the highest rated West Ham Player and named to Alan Shearer’s Match Week 4 Team of the Week. Masuaku connected on 92% of his passes and created two big chances, one of which led to Sebastian Haller’s third goal of the season. In the 24th minute, Masuaku beats his man down the left wing and hits a perfectly weighted through ball to a streaking Haller who cannot miss from that position (expected goal of .61) and nets his third goal of the season and his first in front of the fans in the London Stadium. Masuaku’s other key offensive contribution was his cross that connected with Lanzini in the 79th minute, but was saved by Krul at point blank range.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the number of shots inside the 18 yard box, the majority of which coming in the second half. As shown by this graph from understat.com, West Ham dominated their attacking third and were able to get to vulnerable spots in the Norwich City defense with ease. In the 54th minute, Yarmolenko connected on a cross from Noble that hit the post (expected goal of .07) and just moments later after a Norwich turnover, Yarmolenko volleys home (expected goal of .08) an errant deflection from a Noble pass to make the score 2-0. From that moment in the game, West Ham put their foot on the gas and attacked Norwich City’s defense and created fourteen goalscoring opportunities in the second half. A large part of this is due to the excellent hold up play of Sebastian Haller. West Ham’s new striker is not only getting on the score sheet, but is also getting teammates involved in the game. Although they’ve only been playing together for three matches, Haller and Anderson have an innate connection that allows them to play off each other like they’ve been playing together for ages. If not for great goalkeeping from Krul, West Ham could have easily won 4-0.