A successful substitute?
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 26 September 2019 at 8:38pm
Written by : @JGriffithJourno
Unbeaten in the league since the first game of the season, 3 clean sheets in a row, a side willing to work for each other and a free-flowing attacking line up. Luck is finally on West Ham’s side as everything is fitting into place nicely to set up an exciting season. Oh, what’s that? Manuel Lanzini, our best player this season, is injured for a month? It seems our luck isn’t changing after all.
Lanzini had been excellent prior to his latest injury, which has to be a cause for concern given how long he spent on the side-lines last term. Lanzini was creating three chances per 90 minutes, making him the third most efficient creator in the league, behind only Kevin De Bruyne (4.5) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (3.8). These numbers show exactly how important Lanzini is to West Ham as he has finally taken Dimitri Payet’s place as the club’s chief playmaker.
Lanzini will be a big loss as he is our main creator – although Felipe Anderson is not far behind – and we could see a change of formation in his absence. Jack Wilshere may be reinstated into the starting XI to play alongside Mark Noble to create an additional driving force from midfield. However, Pellegrini is a creature of habit and another tactic will be his plan.
In the past, an injury of this stature would cause turmoil at the London Stadium. But things are different this time round, as we have a very adequate replacement waiting in the wings. This man is Pablo Fornals. Admittedly, he has endured a difficult start to his career in East London – but then so did Felipe Anderson and Michail Antonio and they ended up being alright didn’t they?
He has only played 254 minutes this season which means he has featured in less than half of the club’s minutes this term. The reason for this limited usage is the fact he has struggled to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, just as many Europeans do when they move to England. He is given far less time on the ball here, but we must stick by him.
Persistency pays off and Fornals will come good. His skill-set is magnificent, as shown by his outstanding displays at the U21 European Championships this summer.
Lanzini’s injury could be just the opening he needed. His best football is played through the middle, although he is not exactly a ‘number 10’ like Manu. Fornals is more effective playing in a midfield 3, so hopefully we see Pellegrini experiment with this in order to get Fornals on the ball more frequently in order to drive us up the pitch with his exceptional dribbling talents.
Fornals is lacking confidence, so let’s get behind him and not label him a ‘flop’ just yet. He has the raw talent to be a success, so give him time and we will be sure to reap the rewards!