In Saturday afternoon’s crushing 0-4 defeat to Pep Guardiola’s table-topping Manchester City at London Stadium, West Ham United’s Arthur Masuaku endured a 45 minutes to forget in his ninth Premier League start of the 2018/2019 season.
Two days after the thrashing at the hands of Manuel Pellegrini’s former club, join us as, with a statistics-driven tactical analysis, we are going to analyse those 45 minutes for the left-back, which came in the first half in East London. This was before he was replaced by Aaron Cresswell at half-time, leaving the field at the break for the first time in English football.
For the first phase of this tactical analysis, we are going to be taking an in-depth look at the Democratic Republic of Congo international’s key general statistics from Saturday afternoon.
To do this, we’ve enlisted the help of our good friends over at wyscout.com, whom the above graphic, which contains all the figures we need from two days ago, has been acquired from.
As you can see, there is a column for the Citizens clash and a column for his career average per 90 minutes for these stats, but it’s just the City game that we’re going to going to be focussing on today. Although it does make for an interesting comparison.
The first stat we are drawn to, alongside a section displaying his left-back positioning and the specific 47 minutes, with added time included, that he was on the field at London Stadium, is total actions and his rate of success in them.
Here, Masuaku could only record a meagre 29 actions inside the first period, just 17 or 59 per cent of which he completes successfully, also failing to score, like his team on the afternoon, assist, register a shot or carry any kind of expected goals threat.
As a more attack-minded full-back, this would have hugely disappointed the ex-Olympiacos man and as we’ll find out, his lack of attacking play in the match was one of the huge shortcomings of his dire display.
The 25-year-old could attempt a mere 14 short and long passes, with just eight of them reaching their intended recipient and no longer passes, displaying how very little he was involved in proceedings in terms of ball-play and how poorly he used possession when he did receive it.
Whether it was the unbelievable quality of the reigning Premier League champions in hemming the attacking defender in on the left side or Masuaku just having an off-day, his crossing and dribbling figures were uncharacteristically abysmal.
Arguably the two strong points of the France-born African’s overall game being crossing and dribbling display how often he is able to do them, but he failed to attempt a single dribble or cross against Guardiola’s world-beaters. Simply and undoubtedly, not good enough.
Two areas where Masuaku did do himself some justice and rather surprisingly, as it isn’t what he’s best known for, were duelling and interceptions. While the relatively short star wasn’t involved in any aerial duels, he certainly was in regular duels and interceptions.
Of the 10 duels the man who swapped Greece for East London in the summer of 2016 entered, as you can see, he won 90% (nine) and also helped his team out at the back by making seven interceptions.
However, it must be noted that, while some of his defensive figures from the encounter were promising, he was largely blamed for each of the visitors’ first three goals for either being beaten too easily or losing his marker.
Masuaku’s next two stats are a pair that contrast each other in relation to comparison to his average, they are losses and recoveries as he manages fewer losses than normal, being on the pitch for 45 minutes less, and fewer recoveries than his per 90 minutes average. Meanwhile, the DR Congo star didn’t pick up a single card in Stratford.
Overall, there can be little doubting that these match general stats are nothing short of atrocious as Masuaku struggled to cope against the world-class quality of the Blue Moon attack. The fact that the majority of these figures fall short of his career average suggests that this performance is one of the, if not the, worst statistically of his five years at senior level so far.
Heatmap And Touches
Next, with the help of the below graphic provided by our good friends over at whoscored.com, we are going to analyse Masuaku’s heatmap and the number of touches of the ball he enjoyed as his side were put to the sword by the mite of the Manchester club.
As you can see from the heatmap in the centre of the image, Masuaku spent most of his short time on the field of play in his own half, rarely venturing down the touchline and into the City half. Regardless of the quality of the opposition, this is unacceptable for a player primarily in the starting Xl for his attacking capabilities.
He could touch the ball a mere 30 times, the least of any starter on the day and two fewer than the man who replaced him at half-time Cresswell. To put that into perspective, in a first period of a fair few chances and attacks for the Hammers, Masuaku had just 30 touches, a staggering 113 fewer than his opposite number Fabian Delph did for the entire match.
Worst Possible Timing
What will, without a shadow of a doubt, be the most disappointing thing about this kind of despicable performance from Masuaku will be the timing of it, coming at the worst possible time for the defender, who controversially responded to a disgruntled fan on the social media after the match.
Having lost his starting place to Cresswell in recent weeks, this was his chance to reclaim it and stamp his name on the left-back position, making his first start since late October. Instead, this performance will have more than likely made up Pellegrini’s mind about the position on the left side of the back four, favouring the man he’s tussled for position with ever since his arrival at London Stadium, for the foreseeable future.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that Masuaku’s 45 minutes to forget against Man City at the weekend were just as severe from a statistics standpoint than they appeared to be from his trio of mistakes. Mistakes that allowed the away side to put the game beyond any doubt before the break.
Cresswell’s introduction at half-time brought an improvement to Pellegrini’s men, but the damage had already been done and the contest was virtually unsalvageable as the second period began. Masuaku’s performance will most likely see him dropped for the trip to St James’ Park next Saturday and could help to push him out of the West Ham door in January, with rumours already swirling.
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