As we approach the halfway point of the 2018/2019 West Ham United season, there are four clear front-runners to the club’s prestigious Hammer of the Year award, which will be handed out at the annual West Ham United Player Awards in May.
While there have been many examples of superb individual performers as the Hammers sit ninth ahead of a busy festive period in their first campaign under Manuel Pellegrini, wingers Robert Snodgrass and Felipe Anderson, striker Marko Arnautovic and goalkeepers Lukasz Fabianski have stood out from the rest. Today, with a statistics-driven tactical analysis, we are going to find out who is truly leading the race to become Hammer of the Year for 2018/2019.
If you asked many a member of the Claret & Blue Army the question we’re going to be answering today, many would point to our first candidate Snodgrass. He has won the hearts of fans with an immense turnaround in fortunes this campaign.
As we are going to do with each player in our analysis, we have brought to you the below graphic, provided by our good friends over at wyscout.com, like all the images and infographics we’re going to be looking at today.
The image contains Snodgrass’ key general average statistics for this term so far and the 19 matches he’s played in, only missing a single game in all competitions thus far, through suspension. These figures will help paint the picture of how well the Scottish international has performed in 18/19.
Not much hope of a future at London Stadium was held out for the wide man when he returned from a season-long loan at Aston Villa in the summer. However, with the help of the faith put in him by new manager Pellegrini, he has been able to push himself firmly into the reckoning for the Player of the Year award at the halfway stage.
An average of 77.53 total actions per 90 minutes with a 60.3 per cent success rate has helped the 31-year-old to do this, along with an average of 0.27 goals and 0.41 assists. His figures in both these departments have been boosted by being heavily involved in five goals in the Hammers’ run of four wins in their last four matches.
This has allowed Snodgrass to carry an average expected goals rating of 0.17 whilst featuring most on the right wing. Meanwhile, other highlights have included 83.6% short passing accuracy and 59.6% long passing accuracy for the man currently atop the Sky Sports Premier League Power Rankings.
However, the one thing Snodgrass will want to improve on as the season progresses and we edge closer to the handing out of this award is his disciplinary record. He has the most cards among his teammates and an average of 0.41 per 90 minutes.
Overall, whilst these stats fail to paint the full picture of the experienced wide midfielder’s season so far, they do put him in a very strong position when compared to comrades, including those in the Hammer of the Year running.
Our second Hammer of the Year candidate is club-record signing from Lazio in the summer transfer window Felipe Anderson. The Brazilian has spent most of the season playing as part of a front three, hence why we are showing you his average attacking statistics below, although he has recently moved to the opposite wing to Snodgrass within a midfield four.
Another player who has been instrumental in the four-game winning run, scoring twice and assisting one, Anderson has averaged 0.34 goals per 90 minutes in his first season in English football.
In fact, he is the East Londoners’ top scorer in all competitions with six, all of them coming in the league and it’s these goals that have aided him in entering fans’ minds for the award. But it hasn’t been easy for the 25-year-old, having to recover from a tough start to life in Claret & Blue to hit a rich vein of form in the last two months.
The former Brazil international is a constant threat to opposition defences, whether that be scoring or creating, as we can see from the stats. On average, his expected goals rating stands at 0.2 and he tries his luck at goal almost twice per 90 minutes, impressive for a winger.
Anderson’s dribbling skills have made waves across the league, averaging 6.77 dribbles and completing almost 70% of them, though he also hasn’t been one to shy away from the physical side of the game, entering 11.3 attacking duels per 90 minutes. In summary, however, if you’re a lover of flare, this South American will be your Hammer of the Year so far.
The third front-runner to the Hammer of the Year in our tactical analysis is another of the nine first-team summer arrivals in East London. It’s goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, the firm favourite for the award prior to the recent PL winning run.
Above, we have the Poland international’s average per 90 minute goalkeeping figures from Wyscout after he has spent the whole season as No1 in the Premier League, ahead of Adrian San-Miguel.
Should Fabianski win Hammer of the Year in his debut season, he would be the first player to do so since Arnautovic in 2017/2018 and the first shot-stopper since Robert Green in 2008. But two ‘keepers have finished runner-up since in Jussi Jaaskelainen and Adrian twice. Let’s take a look at why he’s being considered so much.
In spite of only keeping three clean sheets, all coming away from home, Fabianski has conceded just one goal on eight occasions, though his average conceded goals and expected conceded goals numbers are eye-catching. For the wrong reasons.
Recording an average of almost four saves per 90 minutes and having to put up with 5.14 shots against him per 90 minutes, it’s no surprise he has conceded 25 strikes under Pellegrini, exactly the same amount as his team have scored in the league. It’s the way the goalkeeper has kept the Hammers in matches this season and his individual displays that has caught the imagination, making him as strong a contender.
The one thing that makes our fourth and final front-runner different from all the others is the fact that he has won this award before. As aforementioned, he picked it up in his first campaign at London Stadium last season, for his crucial ten goals that kept the side in the top-flight under David Moyes.
The main reason for the Austria and West Ham vice-captain getting himself in the running to win back-to-back Hammer of the Year awards and become the first player to do since Scott Parker in 2010 is the way he’s continued that form into this season. As evidenced by his above average attacking stats for 18/19 in all competitions.
As we can see, Arnautovic, who is expected to be out until the new year after picking up a hamstring problem in the home victory over Cardiff City at the beginning of December, has carried an excellent average of 0.41 goals per 90 minutes and 0.16 assists.
His expected goals rating, so high due to the five goals he managed to notch in the league in the opening part of the campaign with his last coming against Burnley in early November, stands at a fearsome 0.43. It’s up there with the best in the most competitive league in world football.
5.39 touches in the opposition box is evidence enough of how much of a nuisance he is to the opposition defence, but many believe he should have scored more and taken more chances in the early stages of the season. It will depend on whether he can hit the ground running when he returns from injury. However, if Arnautovic can, he’s going to take some beating to this crown, which he already holds.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis has found that every member of this quartet of front-runners, if they can carry on in this way, has a fantastic chance of being crowned the 61st Hammer of the Year by the time that May comes around.
However, we feel that statistically, due to the way he has battled back from obscurity to greatness in a Hammers shirt and his relationship with the supporters, Snodgrass is leading the way at present. Although it must be noted that his competition extends far beyond just the other three names mentioned in today’s analysis.
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