West Ham powerhouse has enjoyed impressive turnaround under Pellegrini this season – 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…

Angelo Ogbonna was West Ham United’s third-choice centre-back last season, but he has turned things around this campaign.

On the chalkboard

The majority of the 31-year-old’s 20 Premier League starts last season came when Fabian Balbuena was injured, indicating that he was firmly behind the Paraguayan and Issa Diop in Manuel Pellegrini’s pecking order.

However, the powerful 6 foot 3 defender has come to prominence this season, having already started half of the games he managed last time around, not requiring injuries to his colleagues for time on the pitch.

The defender was hailed for his performance in the 1-0 victory over Chelsea on Saturday, but this wasn’t a one-off, as he has been consistently solid at the heart of the Hammers defence.

A turnaround for Ogbonna

There can perhaps be an argument made that Ogbonna should be the first-choice centre-back for West Ham, even if Diop has made the most starts this season with 13.

It speaks volumes about Ogbonna’s influence that he comes out on top in three of the four key defensive contributions when compared to his teammates, as shown below.

What also stands out is how efficient the Italian is with his tackling, because as well as making more challenges per game than his colleagues, he commits 0.7 fouls and is dribbled past just 0.2 times per game.

In comparison, Diop and Balbuena both have a combined total of 1.8 in those traits.

Ogbonna has also shown that he is comfortable on the ball, maintaining a pass success rate that is 4.8% higher than that of Balbuena.

When West Ham started their season against Manchester City, Ogbonna was sat on the bench, it is hard to imagine that this will happen too often moving forward after his performances this term.

In other news, one of Ogbonna’s teammates was hailed for their performance against Chelsea.

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