West Ham United left-back Arthur Masuaku was widely criticised for an unimaginative display which included a goal-costing error as Manuel Pellegrini’s side exited the Emirates FA Cup at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday evening.
Two days after the devastating 4-2 fourth-round defeat to Wally Downs’ men at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, we are going to be carrying out a statistics-driven tactical analysis on Masuaku’s much-maligned performance. Looking deep into his big mistake, his key stats from the giant-killing cup tie and his heatmap and positioning. Join us.
The big mistake
Firstly, we will look at the undoubted biggest talking point from the showing of the Democratic Republic of Congo international, which saw him stay on the pitch for the full 96 minutes in south London, having replaced Aaron Cresswell in the starting Xl. This is, of course, the former Olympiacos man’s big mistake.
It came less than 40 seconds into the second half of Masuaku’s 19th Hammers appearance of the season in all competitions and only his second of the year, having lost his place in Pellegrini’s regular team at the back end of last year. At this point, the Wombles were only two goals to the good, with the visitors still firmly in the contest.
In order to analyse the costly error, we have acquired the below four images from our good friends over at wyscout.com, which contain the sequence of events that ended in Masuaku making yet another FA Cup round-four mistake. As you can see from the first, a home attack straight from the restart moved the ball out to star striker Kwesi Appiah out on the left wing. Already, the left-back is not close enough to his marker Scott Wagstaff with a cross clearly in the offing, sooner or later.
By the time the former Ghana international and AFCON scorer Appiah is able to beat half-time substitute Ryan Fredericks and deliver the ball into the box. Masuaku is still ball-watching and yet to notice Wagstaff creeping into the area on his left. Even if the France-born African has seen him, he’s clearly not doing enough about the attacking midfielder’s presence.
As Appiah’s delivery reaches its intended target of the danger zone, the inevitable happens, as we can see below, with the journeyman Englishman Wagstaff getting to the ball comfortably ahead of Masuaku. All the 25-year-old attack-minded defender can do now is try to put off his opponent and hope and pray he can’t hit the target.
Not only does Wagstaff find the target, but buries a low effort into cup ‘keeper Adrian San-Miguel’s bottom left-hand corner, one he can do nothing about. A pretty impressive finish from an awkward opportunity from the two-time Sky Bet League One champion for the current third-tier basement boys. It all happens because of Masuaku’s simple and highly-damaging mistake of failing to track or even properly mark his marker throughout the move, allowing him to get goal-and-ball-side and score.
At 2-0, the Irons still had a promising chance of avoiding a ‘David and Goliath scoreline’ in the second period, but 3-0 was a different kettle of fish and a very steep hill to climb. They managed to pull two goals back through super subs Lucas Perez and top-scorer Felipe Anderson, ultimately succumbing 4-2 and being knocked out of football’s oldest competition in the fourth round by a League One team for the second campaign running.
Next in this tactical analysis, it’s time to start analysing Masuaku’s overall display, with the help of his general statistics, found in the below Wyscout graphic from his second taste of FA Cup round-four football. Following a sending off in his first for a spitting offence at Wigan Athletic, almost 12 months ago to the day.
As you can see, the image also includes the player’s career average general statistics as well as those from Kingsmeadow. However, it’s just the figures from Saturday that we’re going to be focussing on today, although it does make for an interesting comparison.
The reason we have chosen to show you Masuaku’s general stats and not his defensive ones is down to the fact that the base of the star’s game is his attacking play. Whilst he was operating in a left-back role and does so primarily, he will always try to do more attacking than defending and two days ago was no different. Often, the France-born African is even tried out as a wing-back or left-winger.
The first full stat we are drawn to is the former UEFA Champions League player’s total actions and rate of success in them, an area he didn’t actually fare too badly in, in his second Wimbledon trip of 2018/2019. Masuaku managed 85 actions and completed an above-average 71 per cent, or 60, to be more precise.
But as we move onto the more attacking figures, the cracks start to appear with the full-back not registering a goal or assist, or even a single shot, carrying zero expected goals threat on the night. Though, in contrast, his eye-catching and impressive passing and long passing stats make up for it as they speak for themselves.
He will have been highly disappointed with his crossing figures, crossing the ball a poor two times, with only one of the duo of deliveries reaching its intended target. Meanwhile, a mere two out of five, just 40%, of Masuaku’s dribbles saw him not lose the ball.
The one-cap DR Congo man, as we can see, also won below 50% in another stat, duels, coming out on top in a measly 16 of 33 and losing both of his aerial duels. In addition, Masuaku weighed in with a below-average four interceptions, in return, losing the ball when he started off with possession, on five occasions.
To his credit, the winner of three cups in his spell in Greece under current Everton boss Marco Silva did make 15 recoveries in the match, albeit only four of them came in the opposition half. Whilst Masuaku was booked by referee Anthony Taylor for diving in the box under slight pressure from Wimbledon’s Anthony Wordsworth in the 78th minute. Failing to go one better and replicate his red card at the same stage of last year’s competition.
Overall, when looking back at this embarrassing affair for his team, Masuaku will be ashamed at some of the statistics he produced, especially when you consider they came against a side eight points adrift at the bottom of League One. The odd strong figure here and there is cancelled out by too many sub-standard stats that simply weren’t good enough.
Heatmap and touches
We finish this analysis by taking an in-depth look at the heatmap and number of touches from the player who’s spent most of the term so far jostling for position with ex-England international Aaron Cresswell. They are displayed in the below image, by whoscored.com.
Before we analyse his number of touches, the heatmap is first up, found in the right centre of the graphic, and it conveys our points from earlier. Masuaku spent most of his time on the pitch out of position, but also not attacking and getting into dangerous positions as much as Pellegrini would have liked, caught, and often stranded in the middle of the pitch. Either side and on top of the halfway line.
The fact that we can see the Valenciennes academy product enjoyed 69 touches of the ball in the London derby tells us he had plenty of opportunity to produce much better match stats and have more than a negative impact on the match for his side. 69 was the fourth most of any player on the night, only bettered by the 77, 92 and 82 of teammates Michail Antonio, captain Mark Noble and Robert Snodgrass.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that Masuaku’s sorry showing in West Ham’s disastrous round-four FA Cup loss to opposition a whole 57 places below them in the English football pyramid. Was not only unimaginative, however, well below-par and contributed to the 4-2 defeat.
Pulling a poor statistical and positional display out of the hat, to go with contributing next to nothing positive in the match from his 69 touches as his team dominated possession with 66.7%. Will only help to put Masuaku further back in Pellegrini’s mind when it comes to team selection. And to think, it was a day he could have really won his club back over after being dropped, instead, not taking his chance in Cresswell’s temporary absence.
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