Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Hammer Foils Narcos Kingpin

More International snoozerama last night as England stumbled home after a 0-0 draw against Slovenia with a frustrated Michail Antonio stuck on the bench. Antonio's capacity to shake things up with his uber-direct aggressive style and aerial prowess seemed just the thing that a listless England needed, but Gareth - nice guy - Southgate was playing it much more conservatively on his first outing as stand in manager.

The real Pablo Escobar
Meanwhile, out in South America, Enner Valencia was banging them in again for his native Ecuador. Scoring twice and having another cleared off the line against Bolivia, Enner was on top form as his contributions matched those of Bolivian striker Pablo Escobar!!! One would have thought that Pablo was the one name off the menu for those blessed with the Escobar surname but not so in Bolivia where perhaps they don't get the popular Netflix show Narcos!

What is perhaps more intriguing, however, is the remarkable disparity between Valencia's strike rate at international level (18 goals in 33 games) compared to his tenure at West Ham (10 goals in 66 games). Valencia is 3.6 times more likely to net for Ecuador than the Hammers, but why???

One likely element is his relative lack of physicality - despite being at West Ham for three seasons before moving on loan to Everton, he still finds it hard to hold on to possession against Premiership defenders and at 5 foot 8 inches is small even for a wide attacker.

The relatively narrow pitch at Upton Park may also have limited his success as he thrives on the extra space at International venues. Perhaps things might have been different at the Olympic Stadium but we won't know for at least the rest of this season - except when the Everton Bogeymen come to visit on April 22nd next year.

Meanwhile, it's back to business for the Hammers as we prepare for Palace away at the weekend. Hopefully the break will revitalise our side and we might see the return of some of our absent players with both Andy Carroll and Aaron Cresswell looking at making the bench...COYI!!!


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