Unpicking Pellegrini’s key starting XI dilemma ahead of West Ham’s weekend clash – opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

Manuel Pellegrini has a selection dilemma in defence ahead of West Ham United’s game against Tottenham Hotspur, with Angelo Ogbonna and Fabian Balbuena to choose from.

On the chalkboard

There has been plenty of discussion about whether West Ham will have Roberto in goal against Tottenham Hotspur, as David Martin could make his first Hammers appearance.

However, Pellegrini also has a decision to make about who will partner Issa Diop at centre-back – with Harry Kane likely to be leading the Spurs line, this could turn out to be an important decision.

Ogbonna has played more games than Balbuena this campaign, but it is the Paraguayan who has started all of West Ham’s last three matches in the draw against Sheffield United and losses at the hands of Newcastle United and Burnley.

The numbers

So far this season, Ogbonna has edged Balbuena out in terms of tackles made per game, while he has completely blown the Paraguayan out of the water in terms of clearances and blocks made.

The only defensive action Balbuena has completed with greater regularity than the Italian is interceptions per game, as shown below.

It is Balbuena who comes out on top in terms of aerial duels won, averaging 5.2 per game, compared to 3.4 from Ogbonna, while the Italian completes 4% more of the passes he attempts.

So far this season, Kane has played 11 Premier League games, scoring 6 goals and making 1 assist, while averaging 2.3 aerial duels won and 1 key pass per game.

This indicates how complete a performance the striker can give and the challenge West Ham’s centre-backs will face.

The decision regarding who to use will likely be a tough one for Pellegrini, but he should go for Ogbonna judging by the statistics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.