Monday, September 26, 2005


Pleat praises Hammers defence

In a critical analsis of the match against Arsenal, David Pleat has spoken in praise of the West Ham back four - and the fullbacks in particular - after they blunted Arsenal's attack and kept a clean sheet. He also suggested that Konchesky is doing himself plenty of favours in regards to the national squad. The former Spurs boss wrote the following, as published in the Guardian.

"West Ham showed how to defend against Arsenal, always retaining their shape and making sure their full-backs were not dragged infield by Freddie Ljungberg and Alexander Hleb's decoy runs to create space for Ashley Cole and Lauren.

If you keep it tight on the flanks against Arsenal you have a chance. Although they don't hit crosses in the air, they like to get Cole and Lauren forward, build from there and sometimes flash low balls across the box.

West Ham funnelled Arsenal into central areas and the visitors' play petered out around the edge of the box with overelaborate passing. They were challenged to thread the ball through the eye of a needle and at the moment they're failing to do that.

Space for them [Arsenal] is often created by the movement of the wide midfielders. But Paul Konchesky and Tomas Repka didn't follow when Ljungberg and Hleb moved inside in the middle third of the field.

When Gilberto Silva had possession on the right, Ljungberg ran infield. But Konchesky would pass responsibility for Ljungberg to Hayden Mullins and would then drop off and make sure he wasn't too far from Danny Gabbidon. If he had gone towards Lauren it would have left space behind for an Arsenal player - probably José Antonio Reyes - to spin into.

This way West Ham kept things nice and tight. Although Lauren and Cole went forward well at times, West Ham coped without real problems.

Konchesky and Repka realised there were times when they had to go with their man. It's important nearer the box, in more critical positions, whether the wide man has the ball or not. And also if the wide man gets possession and goes infield the full-back sometimes has to follow and make a challenge.

I was impressed with Konchesky and I think he has made himself a contender for the England squad. He's less dangerous than Cole going forward but his distribution is improving, his tackling was good, his recovery was more than adequate and he rarely went to ground.

Defensively he is reliable. I had him at Tottenham on loan from Charlton and he sat at left midfield in front of Mauricio Taricco and made us nice and solid. When he returned to Charlton we never defended so well."

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