West Ham supporters have been in high spirits in recent times after seeing their team record a fourth Premier League victory of the season at the weekend.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men went into their clash with Newcastle United off the back of suffering a 4-0 defeat at the hands of leaders Manchester City in their previous league encounter, and thus seeking to bounce back in the North East on Saturday. And they did just that as a brace from Javier Hernandez alongside a Felipe Anderson strike sealed a routine 3-0 success for the Hammers, a result which moved them up to 13th place in the Premier League table.
Thus, there have been many thrilled West Ham fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom have been heaping praise on striker Hernandez, with his two goals ultimately paving the way for the East London outfit to pick up all three points at St James’ Park.
The Mexico international hasn’t always been a regular under new boss Pellegrini, with Saturday just his third Premier League start of the season, yet the former Manchester United man reminded us all of his predatory instincts in the penalty box with two finely-taken goals.
And while the 30-year-old deserves huge credit for the role he played in Saturday’s win over Rafa Benitez’s side, it was the defensive masterclass produced by Issa Diop, valued at £19.8 million by Transfermarkt, which trumped the efforts of the Mexican.
The 21-year-old has made a hugely encouraging start to life at the London Stadium following his move from Toulouse during the summer, what with Saturday his 12th consecutive Premier League start for the Hammers to underline his status as the club’s chief centre back.
And the France Under-21 international produced another commanding display to warrant that status to help Pellegrini’s men to all three points, with the defender winning all four of his aerial duels over the course of the 90 minutes (as per WhoScored), thus playing a key part in negating that particular threat from the Magpies.
Yet Diop was also in command on the floor as well in completing all six of the tackles he attempted, while his tally of five clearances further underlined his excellent reading of the game in not only sensing danger, but then dealing with it accordingly.
Add in three blocks, and the 21-year-old got in the way of a great deal that Newcastle threw at Pellegrini’s side during the course of the match – it was a defensive masterclass from one of the Premier League’s best summer signings.
Special mention must also go to centre back partner Fabian Balbuena, who was again very solid alongside the Frenchman, but there is no doubting just how integral Diop was in laying the foundations for a West Ham victory on Saturday – Newcastle certainly had their moments.
So while Hernandez will get many of the plaudits for his sterling efforts in the final third, it was the exploits of Diop at the other end of the field that deserve mention, with the centre back the Hammers’ unsung hero in victory over Benitez’s Magpies.
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