West Ham supporters have been in fine voice in the Transfer Tavern in recent days after seeing their side produce a wonderful fightback to beat Tottenham in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup at Wembley on Wednesday night.
Slaven Bilic’s men went into their clash with the North London giants having lost 3-0 to Brighton in their preceding Premier League encounter, and there appeared to be some sort of hangover as Son Heung-min and Dele Alli gave Mauricio Pochettino’s side a 2-0 lead at the break. However, the Hammers responded brilliantly and a brace from Andre Ayew and a fine header from Angelo Ogbonna sealed a remarkable 3-2 victory for the East London outfit, who will now travel across London to face Arsenal in the quarter-finals.
Thus, several of our resident Hammers fans have been toasting their side’s sensational win in the last few days, but attentions are certainly turning to a crucial Premier League clash with bottom side Crystal Palace on Saturday, and who manager Bilic may look to start given his team’s display on Wednesday night.
And there’s one man who certainly made a case for a starting role at Selhurst Park on Saturday, namely forward Ayew, and not just because he bagged twice in the comeback win.
The 27-year-old has been on the peripheries of the West Ham first team this season with just four Premier League starts to his name, and just one goal in eight appearances overall has hardly opened Bilic’s eyes to the Ghanaian’s potential.
However, the former Swansea City man produced a wonderful display at Wembley on Wednesday night, and it was the sort of performance that under-fire Bilic needs from all of his players if he is to get the results and ultimately keep his job at the London Stadium.
Ultimately, Ayew was the man that turned things around for the Hammers at the national stadium, with his WhoScored match rating of 9.02 the highest of any West Ham player, with the next best being Manuel Lanzini (8.31) and Ogbonna (7.73).
And when one takes a closer look at his statistics, it’s not hard to see why.
Firstly, all three of Ayew’s shots on Wednesday night hit the target, which is the least you’d expect from a forward but seemingly appears tricky given that Andy Carroll had two efforts on goal, and both missed the target, while the Ghana international also laid on two key passes for his teammates at Wembley, which was only one less than Argentine Lanzini.
Thus, it’s clear that Ayew was making a telling difference in the final third, and more importantly he was carrying a threat and getting involved in play, be it creating or scoring goals.
The joint-most dribbles (three) alongside Lanzini also suggests that the 27-year-old is beginning to grow in confidence once again and as such is willing to take defenders on with his pace and trickery, while his high pass accuracy (89.1%) underlines that he was also showing composure on the ball when the Hammers needed it most.
Above all though, and what will surely delight under-fire Bilic the most, is that Ayew put a huge shift in, with the Ghanaian covering 327 sprint metres during the contest and 1,318 high intensity metres, both of which were more than any player on the pitch.
— West Ham Fan Zone (@WHUFCFZ) October 26, 2017
And when one is struggling, those are the sorts of figures a manager must want to see. It shows a determination to keep going even when things aren’t going well, but also a desire to make a difference and change things for the better.
Ayew did that on Wednesday night.
Add in the confidence he would have gained from such a performance at Wembley against a good side, and the 27-year-old could cause serious problems for a struggling Palace backline on Saturday at Selhurst Park.
After the way he played on Wednesday, the Eagles aren’t going to want to defend against him, so Bilic must bring the £16.2 million-rated ace (as per Transfermarkt) back into the starting eleven on Saturday.
(All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com)
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