Mark Noble could be the perfect number 10 for West Ham, with Downing and Nolan continuing to struggle

Mark Noble

Mark Noble has proven enough to suggest that he could be a perfect number 10 for the Hammers.

Earlier this season, things were going rather well for West Ham, with Noble playing in a diamond midfield alongside Alex Song, Cheikhou Kouyate and Stewart Downing.

Noble was the willing runner in that system, harrying opponents on the ball, and creating the off chance. However, main playmaking duties were left to Song - in the deep-lying midfield role - and Downing, who was the number 10.

This led the East London club up the Premier League table, and won head coach Sam Allardyce some deserved plaudits.

However, injuries and a loss in form to Downing and Song have resulted in just two victories for the Hammers in 2015, and a top 10 placing looks out of the question. Obviously these issues are not down to any specific person, although the continual inclusion of Kevin Nolan raises a few eyebrows.

Playing as the number 10 following Downing’s loss in form, Nolan looks off the pace when asked to perform weekly in the top flight. A great servant of the club, his time is surely up, and it begs the question of who can take his place as the teams main playmaker.

Nolan is past his best, Downing himself is ageing, and it creates a huge tactical issue for Allardyce.

However, Noble has all the abilities to play in that advanced role, and it arguably suits him, and the team, better than his current position.

Noble plays the second most key passes in the entire Hammers squad - 1.4 per game to Downing’s 2.4 - whilst possessing a higher pass accuracy than the former Liverpool man. He also, surprisingly, completes more dribbles than Downing and draws more fouls than the winger.

His attacking play is impressive, especially considering his usual deep-lying role restricts his effect in the final third, and just imagine how effective he would be if let loose from his defensive responsibilities.

Speaking of these responsibilities, Noble is also a far better option in the number 10 role than Downing when it comes to pressing from the front and the need to win the ball back early.

The 27-year-old completes 2.5 tackles per game and two interceptions per game, far better than Downing, and even toning these down to increase his attacking efficiency would make him a far better all-round number 10 than Downing.

Downing and Nolan have enjoyed successful careers as playmakers, but it looks as if their time at the top of their game is coming to an end. Rather than persevering with the ageing duo, Allardyce should look towards Noble as his main creative outlet, with the tireless midfielder potentially a fix for a key tactical issue in the Hammers current set-up.

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