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Long ball, tall story

Filed: Monday, 10th November 2014
By: Staff Writer

West Ham United's five-match unbeaten run is currently only bettered by Chelsea in the Premier League.

Victories against Queens Park Rangers, Burnley and Manchester City - added to the two recent draws against Stoke and Aston Villa on Saturday - have helped catapult Sam Allardyce's side into the higher echelons of the Premier League.

Only the league leaders - who are still unbeaten this season having won nine and drawn two - can boast a better record, although Newcastle - who have won their last four under Alan Pardew - are also unbeaten in five.

* Whilst West Ham have been largely praised for their apparent change in emphasis when in possession of the ball this season, the stats tell a slightly different story.

Almost one-third of West Ham's goals this season have arrived from set pieces - a total of six goals (two at home, four away), the league's highest and a number that only next weekend's opponents Everton can currently match. In contrast, West Ham's total of 11 goals scored from open play is bettered by six clubs.

* As for the long ball tag with which Big Sam has long been tainted, West Ham's average of 66 long passes per game is only the tenth highest in the Premier League.

Strugglers Burnley currently top that particular chart with an average of 73, closely followed by Manchester United and fellow new boys Leicester City (73). Arsenal, with the league's lowest score of 42 can genuinely claim to "play on the floor" - certainly not Southampton, as suggested by their fans last season, who have the fifth highest total on 71.

* Andy Carroll's return to the fold will almost certainly encourage the likes of Aaron Cresswell, Carl Jenkinson and Stewart Downing to fire more crosses into the box. Yet even without the England international, West Ham's average of 26 crosses per game so far this season is only marginally bettered by Arsenal and Southampton (27 each) and matched by Manchester United.

Conversely, West Ham's 313 short passes attempted on average per game is one of the league's lowest; only last weekend's opponents Aston Villa (309), Crystal Palace (236) and Premier League newcomers Burnley (295) and QPR (297) have attempted fewer. Arsenal again lead the way with 567 per match.

* The north London club also lead the average possession chart having enjoyed a shade under 60 per cent per match. West Ham, perhaps surprisingly given the club's overall form are way down in 14th place with just 47.1 per cent - the lowest possession rate outside of the Premier League's bottom six clubs.

Oddly perhaps, Allardyce's side have seen slightly more of the ball away from home - 49.7 per cent on their travels (9th overall) compared to just 44.9 per cent on average (16th) at the Boleyn Ground. Meanwhile West Ham's combined pass success rate of 76.4 per cent is also way down the table in 15th (again, only better than the league's bottom five clubs).

* Given that the opposition have tended to see more of the ball so far this campaign is has been essential that West Ham have been able to rely on their defence. James Collins has been a rock at the back in recent weeks and only Jason Shackell (Burnley, 11.5) and Michael Dawson (Hull, 11.2) have averaged more clearances per game than the Welsh international (11). Winston Reid (with 9.5 clearances per match) and James Tomkins (9.4) also feature in that particular top ten.

* In terms of goalscorers, Diafra Sakho's average of 3.4 shots per game is the league's seventh highest total (led by Man City's Sergio Aguero with 5.2). The Senegal international rises to third in the table if only considering attempts at goal away from home (4.0) with Stewart Downing appearing on that list in sixth place (3.2).

* Finally, despite having make an apparently promising start to his new career at Hull, the Premier League's most dispossessed player so far during the current campaign (3.3 lost challenges per game) is ... Hull City's Mo Diame.

* Check out lots more West Ham statistics by visiting KUMB's Stats Zone.

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