But how has his 2018/2019 season so far helped him earn the contract extension at his boyhood club under Manuel Pellegrini, his ninth different manager in East London? Join us as we find out by carrying out a statistics-driven tactical analysis on the 14th West Ham season of the man known as ‘Mr West Ham.’
The contract extension
Firstly, we are going to take an in-depth look at the contract extension signed this week by Noble, which adds one extra year to the five-year deal he signed in the winter of 2015.
As aforementioned, this will take the club’s longest-serving player through to summer 2021, the end of the 2020/2021 campaign, meaning that he will still be featuring in his beloved Claret & Blue for another two-and-a-half campaigns, at the very least.
However, at the age of 31, this will more than likely be the last contract extension the man with almost 450 competitive West Ham first-team appearances and the most Premier League appearances, will sign at London Stadium.
Should the Academy of Football product who was just 17 when he made his first-team debut in the summer of 2004 see out the entirety of this contract, he will have been playing in the Hammers first team for a staggering 17 years. But he is expected to retire when the deal is up, at which point Noble will have reached the ripe old age of 34.
This season’s position and role
Next in this analysis, we will study the role and position in which the talismanic figure has featured in his fourth season as Irons skipper, with the help of the below image, which has been provided by our good friends over at wyscout.com.
As you can see, the graphic contains, on the right side, a heatmap and position map for the 18/19 campaign thus far, along with some basic statistics from his 11 appearances in all competitions, all of which have come in the league. And on the left side, some brief general information.
It’s just the maps on the right we’re going to be focussing on today, the heatmap telling us that when he’s played, Noble the central midfielder has covered plenty of ground in the central areas of the pitch. Next to it, the position map displays the fact that the 31-year-old has been used in a variety of different midfield roles in different formations this term, including the right-sided central one in the 4-2-2 preferred by Pellegrini in recent victories over Cardiff City and Crystal Palace.
For the main phase of our tactical analysis, and with the help of Wyscout once more, we will be analysing the captain’s key general statistics from this season thus far, which are contained in the below graphic.
As you can see, the image includes general figures for each of Noble’s last ten league outings, but it’s just the averages column at the very top that we are going to be analysing today, although it does make for an interesting comparison.
These per-90 minutes stats will prove how the quality of the former England U21 captain’s performances this season have helped the club come to their decision of triggering his one-year contract extension option.
The first figure we are drawn to, beside another mini heatmap, is total actions and Noble’s rate of success in them from his 11 league appearances this campaign, all of which have been starts.
Here, the skipper is averaging 75.91, an impressive 68.9 per cent of which have been completed successfully. This helps to explain why the PL record holder has always seemed to win his place in the starting Xl back following spells out through injury and suspension, despite the overwhelming quality of the West Ham squad, added to by nine fresh first-team signings by new manager Pellegrini in the summer.
Small injuries and the three-game suspension for a red card collected away at Leicester City have proved blessings in disguise for Noble as these breaks have allowed him to maintain the fitness levels required. But he will have been disappointed not to score so far in such a high-scoring season for the club, hence his average of zero goals and expected goals rating of 0.02, this is in spite of getting half of his shots on target, on average.
However, he has managed to assist, accounting for his average by registering a single assist, teeing up Marko Arnautovic for the third strike in a 3-1 home victory over Manchester United.
Passing has always been one of Noble’s strong suits and this campaign has been no different as he has managed to be accurate with over 65% of his average 51.8 and 6.35 short passes and long passes per 90 minutes. His crossing figures are understandably poor for a central midfielder.
While the star who is West Ham through and through is far from best known for his skill, more his grit and aggression, there is evidence that the stardust of the likes of club-record signing Felipe Anderson has rubbed off on him in recent months. This lies in 1.79 dribbles, 83.2% of which have been completed successfully.
As you can see, surprisingly, Noble has failed to win over 38% of his duels or aerial duels, only averaging 1.39 interceptions, a sign he has been more attack-minded under a more attacking gaffer. A low percentage of Noble’s 8.3 losses have arrived in his own half, while just under half of his 6.25 recoveries have been in the opposition half.
Something that the No16 won’t be too proud of is his disciplinary record since the beginning of August as he has totted up a high 0.3 yellow cards per 90 minutes and 0.1 red card, thanks to being sent off for a professional foul at the King Power Stadium.
Overall, a central defensive midfielder several years younger would undoubtedly be more than satisfied with these figures next to his name, let alone one who is now some way into his 30s. However, this is what Hammers fans have always expected and been delivered over 14 years by Noble, maximum effort, with almost always, maximum results.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that the continued high level of his performances, from a statistics point of view, have helped the old-timer Noble to earn a West Ham contract extension in his 21st year at the club since signing as a schoolboy.
This is without even touching on the attitude, professionalism, longevity, pure ability to bounce back and the example he sets to others that the legend of East London conveys on and off the pitch. There can be little doubting that Noble is now defying his age by flourishing under Pellegrini, but with contracts being extended and no sign of the veteran winding down any time soon, long may it continue.
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