Why Kouyate's performance against Southampton was better than heroics against Manchester United

Cheikh Kouyate's stats were down against the Saints compared to his performance against Manchester United, but his performance was arguably better.

Cheikh Kouyate has been used as a centre back by West Ham United boss Sam Allardyce in the club’s last two games and he’s produced two very good performances.

He excelled against a talented Manchester United attack last weekend and then showed superb strength and grit last night, as the Hammers secured a point away at Southampton, where they were down to nine men at one point during the game.

The stats actually suggest against the Saints that his performance declined in several areas.

  PositionTeamMatchWon TackleOutfielder BlockEffective ClearanceDuel WonAerial WonAppearancesMins Played
Cheikhou Kouyaté MF West Ham West Ham vs Man Utd 3 2 13 9 5 1 90
Cheikhou Kouyaté MF West Ham Southampton vs West Ham 1 2 11 6 3 1 90

That could be easily explained by the fact that he’s inexperienced as a central defender, but there may be more to the dip in the numbers.

Firstly, West Ham were playing away from home and were down to ten men for the last half an hour.

They couldn’t take as many risks considering the quality Southampton possess in possession, which forced Kouyate to be more selective in terms of the way he read the play and when he chose to get stuck in.

Secondly, his better stats against Manchester United could be explained by the fact he was fired up and spurred on by a vocal home crowd.

All in all, he’s doing a good job in the middle of the West Ham defence and his figures bode well for when he’s moved back into midfield.

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