After weeks of West Ham United fans crying out for Ukrainian International and summer signing Andriy Yarmolenko to be given his first Premier League start, he was finally rewarded with it yesterday, grabbing the opportunity with two hands.
The ex-Borussia Dortmund and Dynamo Kyiv man found the net twice inside the first 35 minutes at Goodison Park as Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers picked up their first points of the season, defeating Marco Silva’s Everton 1-3.
Aside from his two excellent first-half strikes, which put the visitors two goals to the good, Yarmolenko was a constant threat in his favoured right-wing position, providing the likes of Marko Arnautovic, who scored West Ham’s third on 61 minutes, with a never-ending stream of support.
In the wake of the outstanding performance of the Ukrainian in his full PL debut and a timely victory that took the Irons off the foot of the table and all the way up to 16th place, we carry out a tactical analysis of Yarmolenko’s display, finding out just how pivotal he was to the first league three points of the Pellegrini era in East London.
For the first phase of our tactical analysis, we are going to take an in-depth look at the two goals that were scored by Yarmolenko, which came in the 11th and 31st minutes, respectively.
With the help of our friends over at whoscored.com, we bring you the below graphic, outlining from which positions the 79-cap Ukraine star was able to find the back of the net, beating England shot-stopper Jordan Pickford.
The line that begins in the centre of the box, just above the penalty spot as we look at it, represents where Yarmolenko opened the scoring just after the ten-minute-mark and the line further out shows us the area from which he doubled the lead, 20 minutes later.
The first goal will undoubtedly go down as one of the Goals of the Season contenders for the East Londoners, a silky passing move and clinical finish of the like that we just haven’t seen from Pellegrini’s men, so far this campaign.
Centre-back Fabian Balbuena won the ball at the back and played it upfield to Pedro Obiang, also making his first start of 2018/2019, he flicked it into the path of Arnautovic, who chested it back to Obiang.
The Spaniard then returned the favour to the Austrian, dinking him in over the top to unselfishly square it to Yarmolenko in acres of space, all that was left to do was to tuck it past Pickford for his first goal in English football.
Strike number two was equally as eye-catching, but for different reasons, this was a much more individual effort and it all started with Mark Noble latching onto a poor clearance from the Toffees ‘keeper.
The returning Hammers skipper laid the ball into the path of Yarmolenko and he drove into the area, dummying defenders with a fake shot and finding space to shoot on the cusp of the box.
The rest they say, is history, as the winger so gracefully stroked an accurate, yet powerful enough shot, into the far top corner, leaving Pickford with no chance and awarding him a delightful brace, to the joy of the travelling Claret & Blue Army.
In this analysis section of our tactical analysis, we will really get into the nitty-gritty of the former UEFA Champions League star’s display, looking at his key statistics and positioning and comparing him to his opposite number.
As we can see from this heatmap, also provided by whoscored.com, of Yarmolenko at Goodison, the area of the pitch that he occupied the most was the right flank, no surprise considering he was positioned there within a modified 4-3-3, from the get-go.
What it also tells us is that, although he spent much of his time attacking Lucas Digne at left-back for Everton, he also popped up in other positions, providing cover for teammates and even mucking in at the back, displaying the overall nature of his busy display.
Our final graphic from the good people over at whoscored.com statistically compares Yarmolenko to the Toffees’ right-winger, ex-England star Theo Walcott, by containing some of the most important stats for both players.
Our first stat is total shots, which we can see is edged by the better performer on the day, the man in Claret & Blue, with two shots to Walcott’s single attempt.
This means that Yarmolenko possessed a 100 per cent record with his shots on goal, both of them troubling the scorers, while the former Arsenal forward had no such joy, Lukas Fabianski saving his only shot from the wide-right position.
The £18 million summer signing also saw more of the ball than his opposite number, enjoying an impressive 3.9% of the total possession, with Walcott only managing 3.6.
Yarmolenko also had a better pass completion rate than Walcott, managing over 80% (82), conveying the fantastic service he provided his teammates with, but Walcott could achieve just 78.
Where things start to change is in the dribbles completed and tackles won columns, where the man from the home team reigns supreme, recording a respective one and three to the away star’s zero.
The Ukraine International was also dispossessed on the ball eight times, although this is more evidence that he saw a lot more of it than Walcott, who was only dispossessed by West Ham players twice.
Apart from the minor stats that aren’t so important in the grand scheme of a football match, the figures tell us that it was a dominant performance in attack by Yarmolenko, one that would have been hard for most right-wingers to trump.
Despite not winning the Man of the Match award on Merseyside, Arnautovic taking that prize, there can be little question that Yarmolenko put in one of the best individual performances of the season so far for the Irons, and perhaps of his career, and what a time to deliver it.
The new man to East London will be keen not to let his first full PL experience be a flash in the pan and his past record and experience would suggest that the 28-year-old won’t, he will be keen to build on it and get even better, starting with next Sunday’s visit of Chelsea to London Stadium.