On Sunday 8th February our twitter feeds erupted with the news that a West Ham fan had brought a ‘Nolan Out’ banner to the game, coupled with a rumoured 3500 fan walk out if he was in the team, opinions were divided online to say the least.
Another argument is that West Ham simply are not the same team with Andy Carroll starting over either Sahko or Valencia. The theory being that with Carroll you cannot so easily play the midfield diamond, with Downing at the point, which had been so successful at the start of the season.
Andy Carroll first returned to fitness as a substitute in the home draw with Aston Villa, West Ham’s 11th point from 5 games, and in the middle of an 11 game purple patch of 7 wins and 3 draws. However, since the December win against Leicester, West Ham have just 2 wins, including the FA Cup against Bristol, leading fans to wonder if his return to the team has influenced the drop off in form.
The statistical truth of Andy Carroll is that while West Ham have a winning percentage over the season of 39.3%, that figure is exactly 40% with Andy Carroll. A negligible difference I am sure you would agree.
The lack of difference does not end there, when you include all results, they have gained 51.1% of points available with Carroll as opposed to 51.2% of points without him.
Kevin Nolan has been even more polarising, with many fans comparing pitch maps showing passes and tackles to other quite average footballers, you would wondering why he starts every week over someone like Amalfitano. You will no doubt be surprised to find out that the win percentage is up a further point to 41.67% when Nolan is in the team. For the purposes of this I have not included substitute appearances or results as they can vary in length and effect on the game.
Statistics can only show you so much, and which such small differences in the numbers its clear that results depend upon, form, location, weather, injuries and one other key thing – quality of opposition. During the hot run of only 1 loss from 11 games I mentioned earlier, Westham only played 1 team who were placed in the top half at the time of the fixture – Manchester City, albeit they beat them! Since the Leicester game there have been fixtures against Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.
Two things I am certain of, West Ham have lost only 3 of the 18 games in which Diafra Sahko was involved, and Enner Valencia is rumoured to be a big money target of Chelsea. I think I know who I would like to start up front!!