One goal, 88% pass accuracy: West Ham outcast stakes starting claim against West Brom

Can Kevin Nolan fight his way back into Sam Allardyce’s first-team plans?

Nolan has made just three starts this season, and he has struggled to make an impact alongside the talents brought to the Boleyn Ground over the summer.

Cheikhou Kouyate and Alex Song have added strength and technical ability far surpassing that shown by Nolan, and his brand of direct football has failed to fit into Sam Allardyce’s new diamond midfield system. Playing in a three-man midfield against Everton, the 32-year-old struggled to cope with the pace of the play surrounding him, and his performance hinted at no future at the Boleyn Ground.

His performance improved the following week in the 1-0 win over Newcastle as he played in the double-pivot of the midfield, and, with the ageing midfielder returning to match fitness, he excelled alongside Kouyate as the Irons came back from one goal down to defeat West Brom at the Hawthorns. Nolan netted the equalising goal after 35 minutes, and he was unlucky to not add to his tally.

The performance gave real hope that Nolan will be able to work his way back into Alladyce’s plans when the side is back to full fitness, something that is likely to occur this weekend.

  GoalsShotsKey PassesPassesPassing AccuracyTouches
Kevin Nolan 1 3 1 45 88% 71

Nolan netted the equalising goal from his three total attempts, and played one key pass from his 45 completed passes. He completed more passes than any member of the Hammers side, and registered a higher pass completion rate than any of his comrades. Considering he was outcast for being less technical than his teammates, it is impressive to see the 32-year-old outperform the impressive Stewart Downing and Kouyate at the more technical side of the game.

One might claim that Nolan focused his game upon the possession style, rather than the defensive side, and chose to reserve his energy by not helping his team out with defensive actions. And whilst Kouyate did complete more tackles than anyone in the West Ham side, he only completed an equal amount of total defensive actions as Nolan - 11.

Nolan 2 4 4 1

Nolan will be pleased that his performance piqued the interest of Allardyce, and he is well deserving of a place when the Irons take on Swansea on Sunday. With his advancing age, he may not have a long-term place in the 60-year-old coach’s plans, but he is sure to be a key figure as the Hammers look to secure their best ever Premier League finish with European qualification.

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