Since breaking into the West Ham side, it is fair to say that Mark Noble has been a key player in the team.
The midfielder has often been the creative force in that midfield over the years, even when they were not regarded as much of a passing side under former manager Sam Allardyce.
However with the arrival of several new faces, most notably Dimitri Payet, one of Europe’s most creative players in the last few seasons, the burden has somewhat been lifted from Noble’s shoulders on the creative front.
Despite that, it seems teams have clearly identified him as a key player to target if they wish to disrupt the Hammers, with stats showing he is currently the most fouled player in the Premier League after four games.
|Mame Biram Diouf||FW||12||4|
Noble has been fouled 16 times in just four games thus far, an average of four times per game. To put that in context, Swansea’s Andre Ayew, Stoke’s Mame Biram Diouf and Aston Villa’s Idrissa Gueye are joint second on the list having been fouled 12 times.
Even Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, who was the Premier League's most fouled player by some distance last season, is currently only on 11.
|Position||Season||Accurate Pass||Successful Final Third Passes||Accurate Fwd Zone Pass||Appearances|
Rather than Noble taking a step back on the creative front then, it seems he has been tasked with upping his role. Indeed, the stats show that he is still an important creative force in the West Ham midfield.
Noble currently sits top of the number of accurate passes in their midfield as well as being top for the number of accurate forward zone passes, while he currently sits second behind Payet for successful final third passes.
Those stats show his importance and it is something that the opposition seem to have picked up on as well; with his aforementioned foul tally showing they have identified him as a key player to target.
Given that importance, it is likely he will be expecting to be fouled much more as the season progresses.