West Ham United winger Robert Snodgrass is the only player to have featured in all nine matches for the club so far this season, not starting in them all, but playing some part at the very least.
Having moved to East London from then-Premier League Hull City in January 2017 and in the main, struggled to settle in at London Stadium. Amid a loan spell at Aston Villa and criticism over the decision to sign him from the boardroom, he now finally looks to have found his perfect role, under new manager Manuel Pellegrini and today, we are going to analyse it.
The role itself, which Snodgrass has played several times in Claret & Blue already this campaign, is the role of the impact substitute, the player designed to come off the substitutes’ bench and have some kind of positive impact on the game.
At the ripe old age, in footballing terms, of 31, this role seems to be perfect for the Scottish International, and he has already proved it numerous times mainly under the new regime of Pellegrini.
When he enters the field of play from the bench, Snodgrass injects the Hammers with some much-needed energy, is fresh and gives his all in a short burst, putting the tired opponent under vast amounts of pressure, something that worked perfectly during Saturday’s 3-1 win over Manchester United, but we will get onto that later.
He causes these problems from his preferred position on the wing in the attacking third, either the right or left wing and while he impressed at Villa Park last season, starting most games. That was in the Sky Bet Championship and to be effective at the highest level, the veteran now must adapt to useful cameos, something he seems more than happy to do.
Saturday’s Performance In The Role
For the second phase of our tactical analysis, we are going to breakdown Snodgrass’ most recent performance (Saturday’s cameo in the Premier League triumph over the Red Devils) in the role, using statistics from wyscout.com and whoscored.com.
Our first graphic comes from our friends over at Wyscout and is an analysis of all the winger’s key stats from his United performance, which lasted 23 minutes from the bench, after he replaced fellow attacker Andriy Yarmolenko.
While Snodgrass didn’t impact the game in terms of scoring or assisting, the first stat we are drawn to is the number of actions he was successful in, 16 out of 29, that’s an impressive average of 55 per cent.
He didn’t manage any attempts on goal as it was more his work rate and effort that caught the eye, although precision clearly wasn’t lacking as he possessed a 100% record when it came to passes and long passes, completing 14/14 and 1/1, respectively.
Snodgrass did not manage any crosses or dribbles and whilst he only won two in total, the fact that he was involved in 13 duels, 12 being on the ground and one of them being in the air, shows how much he got stuck in to the United players who looked weary and frightened of him.
Sure, the Scot couldn’t register any interceptions, but the one and only time he did lose the ball himself, it wasn’t in his own half and came well away from the danger area, although his one recovery wasn’t in the opposition half.
Next, with the help of our friends over at WhoScored, we are going to look at Snodgrass’ heatmap from the triumphant outing, which really displays the fact that he was here there and everywhere inside the final 20 minutes in East London.
Snodgrass averaged almost a touch every minute he was on the field, showing that he grasped the pace of the game almost instantly after being put on by Pellegrini. The shades of blue in almost every part of the flan that he was operating in speak for themselves, about the legs he had on him and the maximum exertion he put into the huge clash, full commitment.
If stats aren’t enough proof of how well the winger played in this role, his performance even caught the attention of visiting manager Jose Mourinho, as the Portuguese urged his players to be more like Snodgrass.
Speaking to the press post-match, the under-pressure Red Devils gaffer had this to say about his showing:
“Where you could see, for example, Snodgrass coming to the pitch with an incredible attitude that he wants to eat the ball and eat everyone around him.”
His First West Ham Goals
Where there is more reason for Pellegrini to continue using the useful services of Snodgrass is in the confidence that he will be taking forward with him, from the goals he scored prior to the visit of Mourinho’s men to Stratford.
Three days before, in the remarkable 8-0 Carabao Cup Round Three thrashing of Macclesfield Town, Snodgrass scored his first goals in Claret & Blue, one either side of the break and also assisted two, showing the form that the Scotland man has at the moment, and is displaying each time he steps onto the football pitch.
In conclusion, there can be little doubting that, having been kept in the summer by Pellegrini in the midst of plenty of rumours, the Chilean must carry on playing Snodgrass and in his most-suited role today, the super ‘sub.
The wide man is already beginning to repay the faith put in him by Pellegrini with displays of this kind and if he is applied to matches correctly, coming off the bench in the league and getting starting chances in cup competitions, there is no reason why he won’t continue to repay that faith. After much uncertainty, Snodgrass now looks to have found his ideal role in West Ham colours, and he is slotting into it perfectly.