During an incredible 90 minutes at the London Stadium, we put West Ham United to the sword to record a 6-0 victory and our biggest-ever Premier League away win.
But just how did we do it? Adrian Clarke has delved into the stats and watched the footage back again to uncover some tactical reasons why we were so dominant:
Leandro Trossard played as a false nine at the London Stadium, and it was his willingness to rotate positions with teammates which completely flummoxed the Hammers. Always on the move and popping up in unexpected areas, the Belgian’s varied movement made his markers feel constantly uncomfortable.
He scored one gorgeous goal himself, but our great strength in this contest was the way others fluidly slipped into the areas Trossard vacated, creating confusion among David Moyes’ defenders.
Bukayo Saka’s run beyond the last centre-back to win a penalty kick was a terrific example. Seeing that Trossard had dropped into his own half to link play, he made a driving run that West Ham weren’t expecting, and our roving frontman picked him out brilliantly.
There were plenty of other examples of how Trossard’s floating runs created space for others inside the final third, with Saka often the main beneficiary. Below you can see Trossard flick a pass to Martin Odegaard ahead of him, who in turn slipped our number 7 in for a shot on goal.
And the next clip shows Trossard draw a defender towards the edge of the box with Havertz replacing him as the ‘9’ inside the danger zone. Odegaard fizzes a pass into him, which the German sets back for Saka, who has a powerful shot well saved by Areola.
Our rotational movement was outstanding in this victory. With each passing game it appears to come more naturally to the players.
A couple of outstanding set-piece deliveries from Declan Rice set us on a path to this record-equalling success. It was not easy to bypass a crowded six-yard box to find William Saliba at the far post for our opener, but the pace and trajectory of his cross was perfect.
Rice’s second assist on his former stomping ground was an unplayable inswinging free-kick aimed for Gabriel. The team set up an intelligent 4v3 that gave them a numerical advantage against their zonal markers, but to make it count they still needed a sublime Rice cross to find the right area.
Our crossing was top-class during the opening 50 minutes in open play too, with several opportunities carved out by quality deliveries. Saka was disappointed not to head home Jakub Kiwior’s excellent cross from the left, and Trossard came close to flicking a devilish Saka inswinger into the back of the net too.
Successful open play crosses before 50 minutes
Our captain was in sensational form, delivering an effortlessly classy demonstration of his passing and vision. Odegaard became the first Premier League player since records began in 2003/04 to complete 100+ passes (109), create at least five chances (7) and assist multiple goals (2) in the same game.
|Passes in oppo half
|Passes in final third
Flitting about the pitch with a supreme air of authority, Odegaard controlled much of this encounter from his favoured berth to the right of centre. Rarely wasting a pass, but also maintaining a quick tempo with everything he did, the Norwegian was a constantly busy presence.
He deservedly claimed a pair of assists after slipping Trossard and Saka into the danger zone with clever, perfectly weighted passes.
Saka was a constant menace, racking up eight shots in just 67 minutes, taking his tally to 17 attempts in two matches against Moyes’ side this term. Remarkably, the only other Premier League match that has seen him enjoy more shots was in our 0-2 loss at home to the Hammers in late December.
Saka’s most shots
The 22-year-old was heavily involved throughout, receiving a healthy 18 passes from the on-song Odegaard, and Trossard also brought the England international into play with a series of excellent passes, totalling eight.
Saka will rue some of his missed chances, but his terrific brace did take him to 10 league goals for the campaign so far.
Rice revelled on return
Rice joined Odegaard, Trossard and Saka in a high-quality shortlist for man of the match, delivering a goal and two assists against his former club. Putting emotions to one side, it was the first time in our central midfielder’s career that he had supplied three direct goal involvements in a single Premier League fixture.
Keeping us on the front foot with his ball retention and progressive passing, our summer recruit was calmness personified throughout.
His long-range strike on 65 minutes crowned a very special reunion with his former club. With two defenders blocking his path to goal he had plenty to do, but as shown below, he fizzed a magnificent strike between them to make it 6-0.
All in all, this was a wonderfully controlled team performance that featured some very special individual displays. From a tactical and technical perspective, we broke our opponents’ spirit with the quality of our football. It has to go down as one of our best-ever away performances in the Premier League.
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