West Ham United youngster Grady Diangana was hauled off at half-time by manager Manuel Pellegrini during last Saturday afternoon’s 1-1 Premier League draw with David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium.
The decision from the experienced gaffer was met by much criticism throughout the football world as Diangana was replaced by Javier Hernandez with the Hammers 1-0 down. This statistics-driven tactical analysis answers the question of whether or not the Academy of Football product deserved to be taken off at the break in the game that the East Londoners would eventually draw courtesy of a late Felipe Anderson equaliser.
Firstly, in our initial bid to judge the quality of Diangana’s first-half performance and whether it was deserving of him spending the second period sat on the substitutes’ bench, we will analyse his key general stats from the even encounter.
The stats within the above graphic have been provided by our good friends over at wyscout.com and contain all his figures from West Yorkshire, as well as a per 90 minutes averages column for the whole of Diangana’s season at senior level thus far. It’s just the Terriers clash column that we will be focussing on today.
The first stat we are drawn to of the 20-year-old who’s capitalised on injuries to make his first five Premier League appearances this campaign with three being starts, is total actions and his rate of success in them.
On Saturday, he could only successfully complete 19 of his 41, also failing to register an assist and not getting his name on the scoresheet for the fifth match in a row after a brace on his senior debut, an incredible 8-0 Carabao Cup thrashing of Macclesfield Town at London Stadium. Hence his zero expected goals rating.
His passing accuracy figures were excellent for his 45 minutes on the pitch as he completed over 80 per cent of his short passes, 11 of 14 and the only long pass he attempted. Diangana delivered no crosses, despite being positioned wide on the right flank.
Of the two dribbles the skilful and pacey youngster took on, he came out of the other side with the ball still at his feet in one of them, disappointingly only winning a quarter of his duels and none of his aerial duels, although he was only involved in the one.
The attacker who has been with West Ham since the age of 10 could only muster up a below-average one interception in Huddersfield, but did only lose the ball on six occasions. However, most of them or roughly 66% came in his own half and Diangana could only recover once on a bitter remembrance afternoon, that was in the opposition half, also being shown no cards.
Overall, while these statistics clearly tell us that the first half four days ago was not Diangana’s best in Claret & Blue, there are still enough positive stats mixed in with the negative ones to warrant the starlet being kept on for the second half. Undoubtedly, these figures are hardly deserving of being hauled off at the break for an attacker who has been playing in a game where his team had mostly their backs to the wall, up until that point.
Heatmap And Touches
Next, we will look at Diangana’s heatmap and number of touches on his first-ever trip to the John Smith’s. The below image and the rest of the infographics in this analysis are from our good friends over at whoscored.com.
First, we will analyse his number of touches as he could only manage 29 in the 45 minutes or so. While this may seem like a low number, as aforementioned, the member of the front three alongside Marko Arnautovic and Felipe Anderson did have to watch his side defend for much of the half.
Nonetheless, some of these touches were pivotal ones, such as the early through-ball to Arnautovic to give him a golden opportunity that he couldn’t convert. The heatmap in the middle shows us that Diangana was very energetic and covered a lot of ground, bursting up and down the right flank and spending much more time than he would have wanted in his own half or the centre of the field, even in his own box, displaying the fact that he did get back to help his teammates out.
Finally in this analysis, to attempt to determine one last time whether or not the man with a very bright future ahead of him deserved to be hauled off at half-time, we are going to compare him to his opposite number on the day, who did stay on the pitch for the full 98 minutes.
The man playing in the wide right position for Wagner’s hosts was Swiss international Florent Hadergjonaj and the stats at the bottom of the graphic form the base on which we will be comparing the duo.
It must be noted that the image suggests Diangana was operating on the far right side of a midfield five, when he was, in fact, playing on that same side, but in a front three within the trademark 4-3-3 West Ham formation of Pellegrini.
When it comes to our first stat, WhoScored match rating, bearing in mind he played over 45 minutes more than him, Hadergjonaj is the clear winner, with 6.83 out of ten to Diangana’s 6.39.
The Switzerland man also beats the England U20 international, having been called up for the first time by Paul Simpson this international break, in share of the overall possession, enjoying 3.4% to his low 1.9.
But Diangana does come roaring back to take the next two stats, which are pass completion and attempted dribbles, with 88% to his 72% passing accuracy and two dribbles to his one.
Being the taller of the two, it’s no surprise to see that Hadergjonaj wins more aerial duels with three to the Hammer’s one. Meanwhile, they both committed to a single tackle and Diangana dispossessed an opponent twice, something his opposite number failed to do once in a scrappy affair.
When we total the scores up, with each star being awarded one point for winning a stat, they are tied on three each. The fact that Diangana statistically performed equally as well as a player who played 45 more minutes than him in the 1-1 stalemate speaks for itself.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that, according to the stats and analysis of his performance, Diangana was not deserving of a half-time substitution by Pellegrini on Saturday and that if the change had to be made, another player should have been sacrificed instead.
As he has only been on the Premier League scene for around a month, it is not known whether the Chilean took Diangana off to protect him in what had been a below-par team performance in the opening 45 at the John Smith’s, or he was sacrificed based on his own display, wrongly. Whichever it was, the move was bound to have hurt the youngster’s confidence, but with a possible international debut to pick him up and the unbelievable quality he possesses at just 20, he will be fully expected to pull through and emerge a better player for it.