It can’t be denied that West Ham United striker Lucas Perez has made the most of his opportunities when they’ve been given to him in his debut season at the London Stadium so far, following a £4 million move from Arsenal during the summer transfer window.
But just how has the Galicia international done this? Find out today in our statistics-driven tactical analysis, where we will be analysing the chances Perez has been given thus far under Manuel Pellegrini and how he has, in the main, grasped them with both hands.
When he swapped North London for East London on Deadline Day in August, the Spaniard will have hoped that by mid-December, he would have made more than the 10 appearances he has been limited to in Claret & Blue thus far.
Furthermore, only seven of these have come in the Premier League, with three in the Carabao Cup, only two of which have been starts, meanwhile, he has started a league match on just one occasion in 2018/2019.
Many have regarded the ex-Gunner as unlucky to have not played more, with the same parties protesting that, as he has remained fit and waited patiently for his chances all campaign, he should have been rewarded with more game time by Pellegrini before this point.
Perez’s luck certainly seemed to have run out when a brace against Cardiff City was rewarded with a first PL start for West Ham at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday, with his afternoon ending at half-time due to a severe foot laceration. But four goals from 10 games where he’s averaged under 55 minutes is certainly an impressive return, displaying how he has taken his very limited chances this term.
It’s now time for our analysis to take a closer look at those four goals, three of which have come in appearances off the substitutes’ bench, with the help of our good friends over at wyscout.com, from whom the below four images have been acquired.
The first arrived all the way back in September in Perez’s fifth appearance as a Hammer and his second start, the Carabao Cup visit of League Two Macclesfield Town to London Stadium. The striker opened his West Ham account with a controlled volleyed finish as we can see below, from an Aaron Cresswell cross, which put the Irons three to the good. This set them well on their way to an incredible 8-0 thrashing.
The centre-forward, whose career started in Madrid with Atletico, would have to wait well over a month for his next strike, which he notched when given a 38-minute cameo in the next round of the League Cup at home to Tottenham Hotspur. This was another cool finish from close-range, nodding a Robert Snodgrass, who has assisted two of his four strikes, corner into the ground and the roof of the net, pulling a goal back in a 3-1 defeat for the Hammers.
By the time Cardiff made the trip to East London in early December, the frontman had made just a single further appearance but was about to be given a proper chance to shine in the league, 59 minutes to be precise, after Marko Arnautovic’s first-half injury. You guessed it, he took it, and as we can see below, broke the deadlock just after the break with a powerful volley past Neil Etheridge from Snodgrass’ flick.
A mere five minutes later and Perez was scoring his fourth in a West Ham shirt and fourth home goal of his Hammers career, terrorising the Welsh defence in a 3-1 success for Pellegrini’s men. This time, he was slipped through by the superb pass of left-back Arthur Masuaku, calmly finishing below Etheridge on his preferred left foot and into the far corner, giving his team a cushion following a nervy first half which had included a missed penalty for the Bluebirds.
As we’ll find out next in this tactical analysis, there has been more to Perez making the most of his opportunities this season than the quartet of goals he’s scored, the quality of his performances have also been at a high standard.
To help prove this, we have acquired the below Wyscout graphic, which contains the key attacking statistics of the 30-year-old in 18/19 so far, a campaign of mixed emotions for the ex-Atletico Madrid man.
As you can see, the graphic contains Perez’s attacking figures for each of his 10 appearances in the league and cup combined this campaign, but it’s just the per 90 minutes average column at the very top that we’re going to be focussing our attention on today. Although it does make for an interesting comparison.
The first stat we are drawn to beside a mini heatmap detailing the areas he’s most occupied on the pitch this season is average goals, with Perez weighing in with a deadly 0.8 goals per 90 minutes this term. Thanks to his four goals, this record is up there with some of the best in English football.
While he is yet to assist a teammate in 18/19, almost two shots per full game with half of them being on target further conveys how much of a threat the Spaniard is, along with an eye-catching expected goals rating of 0.24.
The striker’s creativity is shown by an average of one shot assist per 90 minutes, coupled with impressive crossing figures that speak for themselves, especially for a forward who is usually only deployed in a central area.
Registering nearly two dribbles and completing 76 per cent of them is a marker for the skill of Perez this season, but he will want to improve on his average of only 36.4% attacking duels won as the campaign progresses.
4.59 touches in the opposition box is enough to make anyone a nuisance to an opposing defence, along with comfortably under half an offside per 90 minutes. The man, who has now plied his trade in England for over two years, has also averaged 0.8 progressive runs and just 0.4 offsides in the opening part of what he hopes will be a long and fruitful spell with the Irons.
Overall, for a player starved of game time and often thrown in the deep end from the bench with very little experience of playing for his new club, one with just three West Ham starts under his belt, these average figures are excellent. It would be hard for any player to beat these scores for the same number of minutes, a testament to the quality of the born goalscorer’s cameos this season.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that the fantastic quality of his performances and his natural knack for taking his chances in the final third and scoring goals has allowed Perez to make the most of his opportunities for West Ham so far in his first season under Pellegrini.
Whilst the forward will be frustrated that his first league start in Claret & Blue five days ago ended prematurely and for the same reasons, he is a doubt for this Saturday evening’s trip to face Fulham at Craven Cottage, Perez can afford to be more than satisfied with what he’s contributed to his new team so far. The focus will very much now be on shaking off his injury as soon as possible and in the absence of the likes of Arnautovic, getting the chances he deserves and carrying on taking them.
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