West Ham supporters have been in high spirits in recent times after seeing their side pick up a second consecutive Premier League victory on Tuesday night.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men went into their encounter with struggling Cardiff City off the back of easing past Newcastle United 3-0 at St James’ Park on Saturday, and thus seeking to back that up with another three points at the London Stadium. And they did just that as a brace from Lucas Perez alongside a Michail Antonio effort inspired the hosts to a 3-1 win on Tuesday night, thus moving them nine points clear of the Premier League’s bottom three.
Thus, there have been many thrilled Hammers fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom have been piling on the praise for striker Perez, who came off the bench and made a massive difference against Neil Warnock’s Bluebirds, netting his first two league goals for the club following his arrival from Arsenal during the summer.
And while there is little doubting that the 30-year-old played a vital role in West Ham’s success on Tuesday, £70,000-a-week ace Angelo Ogbonna (as per Spotrac) was the real Hammers hero for his excellent display in the heart of Pellegrini’s backline.
The 30-year-old has fallen behind Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena in the centre back pecking order but was restored to the starting line-up on Tuesday for only the third time in the league this season, and he repaid Pellegrini’s faith with a commanding display against a tough Cardiff team.
The Italy international had 64 touches of the ball against the Bluebirds and finished the clash with a healthy 83% pass success rate (as per WhoScored), with only Diop, Mark Noble, and Felipe Anderson completing more passes for the hosts over the course of the 90 minutes.
So not only did the defender show quality on the ball, he also didn’t lose possession once during the game, but he was up the task off it as well against a strong and sometimes direct Cardiff team, what with Ogbonna winning a team-high nine aerial duels during the match.
Add in one interception, three clearances, and three blocks, and the 30-year-old clearly read the game brilliantly to help negate the threat posed by Warnock’s men, who certainly gave Pellegrini’s men something to think about throughout a goalless first half.
Yet Ogbonna stood up to the task and delivered a solid and accomplished display at centre back, vindicating Pellegrini’s decision to select the Italian ahead of fellow centre back Balbuena, who did go into the clash as a fitness doubt.
Nonetheless, while Perez’s goals proved crucial for the Hammers, it was the defensive resilience shown by Ogbonna which proved he was the real West Ham hero on Tuesday night.
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