After a poor showing in the 2017/2018 season, and the departure of one of the most creative players the club had seen in a long time in Dimitri Payet, it’s no surprise that the West Ham fans expected something to change.
In comes signing after signing as well as a new manager and things were looking rosy at the start of August when the new season started. Cut to 4 weeks later and the team were right at the bottom of the table with 0 points and all the money and hope seemed lost.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men have managed to turn things around and now sitting in 9th position. This is off the back of 4 straight wins. The team is obviously beginning to click, and one player who is shining the brightest has to be Felipe Anderson.
So what is behind this surge in form? When the £35 million man first arrived the main worry for fans was that he had a history of laziness. It seems, however, that is something that fans have not had to worry about. In fact, he is ranked 10th in the league for overall tackles made, an amazing statistic! Registering an incredible 7 tackles in the match against Manchester United earlier in the season, the defensive aspect provided has been a real boost.
A heatmap from the most recent game against Fulham shows the defensive cover that Anderson can provide. Combine this with his 72 touches, the most of any West Ham player on the pitch and 2nd overall
Offensively Anderson has been quite clinical, scoring a goal every 4.17 shots, a better ratio than Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Eden Hazard. The Brazilian has clocked up 8 goal contributions, more than Romelu Lukaku and Sadio Mane.
His average passes per match is another stat that shows Anderson is not just a player who dribbles simply relying on pace. As shown in the graph below, when compared to the top 20 scorers in the Premier League this season Anderson is 2nd in the number of passes per game (42.88) behind only Eden Hazard (51.07)
One thing Anderson needs to work on is his assisting and chance creation. The attacking midfielder has created only 4 key passes this season, very low when compared to the likes of Hazard (11), Ryan Fraser (15) and Mohamed Salah (9). Before the game against Fulham, Anderson had only created one assist, back in August in the 3-1 defeat against Arsenal, however with a great assist and a key cross against Fulham, maybe he is starting to work on that aspect of his game.
The hard work seems to be paying off, and the desire to be a pivotal member of the team and not just collect his weekly wages is showing. All it took was some time to click and perhaps adapt to the English game.
Overall, after a rocky start to the season for Anderson and West Ham as a whole, things seem to be settling, and the delight of watching Anderson at his best is something that stats can’t quite capture.