Striker Javier Hernandez put in a crucial two-goal display on his return to the starting Xl as Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United downed Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United 0-3 at St James’ Park in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
Two days after the Hammers’ first win in any competition in just under a month, we are going to be carrying out a statistics-driven tactical analysis on the Mexican’s performance. We will be analysing his two goals, statistics from his superb showing and his heatmap and number of touches on the day of the thumping triumph. Join us.
If the finishes and the strikes themselves weren’t the most impressive thing about Chicharito’s first Premier League brace since August 2017, it was the timing of the goals, the ex-Manchester United star’s first since the Irons’ last victory, over Burnley at London Stadium in early November.
While both capped off impressive team moves, the first was arguably the more eye-catching of the duo. It arrived just 11 minutes into the end-to-end contest in the North East, getting very close to Marko Arnautovic’s record of the earliest goal scored by the club this season.
As shown in the below image provided by our good friends over at wyscout.com, like many of the stats and graphics in this analysis, the finish from Hernandez was a volleyed one past Magpies goalkeeper Martin Dubravka from close range.
This came after the wonderful cross of Robert Snodgrass from the left (out of picture) as he returned to the side following a suspension. Although the intricate delivery laid the ball on a silver platter for the Mexico man, he still needed to finish it on the half-volley and this he did, steering the ball the other side of the Czech Republic international to break the deadlock.
The second goal would arrive a whole 51 minutes later and similar to the first, was pivotal due to its timing early in the half, essentially putting the match beyond the reach of the hosts in a period of the game where chances were commonplace at both ends.
As you can see above, the finish was a little more straightforward for Hernandez as he poached his fourth of the campaign in all competitions and so was the move. It involved route-one football, with Declan Rice flicking the third ball of a goal-kick onto Arnautovic to head the former Real Madrid star into the clear.
From here, he still had to beat Dubravka and having already squandered a pair of guilt-edged opportunities this side of half-time, the born-goalscorer couldn’t afford to miss. Miss he didn’t, stroking the ball with power underneath the shot-stopper and home to give Pellegrini’s men a two-goal cushion.
For the next phase of our tactical analysis, we will be taking an in-depth look at Chicharito’s key attacking stats from the highly-entertaining affair, provided in the below graphic by Wyscout once more.
While the image also contains his career average attacking figures per 90 minutes, it’s just Saturday’s encounter between two Premier League bottom-half teams we’re going to be focussing on today, but it does make for an interesting comparison.
The first stat we are drawn to from his 97 minutes in the familiar centre-forward position playing alongside and supporting Arnautovic at St James’, is his two goals for the full match.
As aforementioned, these were notched either side of half-time and helped the visitors to gain a real stranglehold on a match that could have gone either way. They also provided the platform for in-form club-record signing Felipe Anderson to round things off in stoppage-time with his fourth in four.
Despite failing to assist for a teammate during the affair, it’s no secret he should have had more than just a brace and this is evidenced by his three efforts, two of which were on target. But there were many more instances where Hernandez couldn’t get a shot away from a brilliant position.
An eye-catching expected goals rating of 0.76 furthers our claim of how much of a threat Chicharito was, though he would’ve been disappointed to have not registered a single shot assist or cross for a comrade.
The one time he did attempt a dribble, impressively, he completed it to give himself a 100 per cent completion rate in dribbling, embroiling himself in a busy 10 offensive duels, but only winning three or 30% of them.
Throughout the match against the team Hernandez has been linked with frequently in recent times, the famous fox in the box with the best goals per minute ratio in PL history, enjoyed four touches in the opposition area.
Whilst the Mexico vice-captain defied his average by not being found offside once, he couldn’t make a single progressive run, however, did manage to draw two fouls for his team of around a year-and-a-half.
There can be little denying, taking into account Hernandez’s poor form, limited opportunities and wealth of speculation linking him with a move away from East London this season, these statistics are terrific as he came back into the team with a point to prove. They tell us that his performance lived up to his two goals of the highest importance.
Heatmap And Touches
Finally, we are going to analyse the 30-year-old’s heatmap and number of touches from just his fifth start of 2018/2019, data we have gathered from the below whoscored.com image.
Chicharito’s heatmap can be found on the right half of the graphic in the West Ham section and it displays just how active he truly was, as a player who is often criticised for his immobility on the pitch. The poacher was quite literally here, there and everywhere, popping up in nearly every area of the field, including his own goalmouth.
Meanwhile, a mere 39 touches was the fourth fewest of any man that started in Newcastle and the second fewest among his comrades, only worsened by his partner and maker of his second goal, Arnautovic. However, having so few touches of the ball along with such a huge decisive impact on the game shows us how clinical he was and how much he made the most of what he had.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that Hernandez’s two-goal display as West Ham made it four league matches unbeaten in five was not only crucial, but one of, if not the deciding factor in a topsy-turvy 0-3 triumph in the North East.
Only given his chance in the starting team because of the ever-worsening injury crisis, the performance, which was statistically superb, would have helped Hernandez win the trust of his veteran manager Pellegrini. But with so much competition behind him, ‘The Little Pea’ will have to keep up this form to stay in the side, starting with Tuesday night’s home Premier League clash with Cardiff City.