Tuesday, February 14

Kouyate is a good player — but not a right-back

One thing to come out of Saturday's game was that West Ham still need a right-back. In fairness, Cheikhou Kouyate had been struggling with a knock before the game, but he never looked at home as an emergency right-back. 

Kouyate's a fine player as a midfielder or centre back, but he's no full-back. He was nutmegged for Albion's first goal and was twice culpable for the equaliser. He took the poor throw-in that resulted in WBA regaining possession and getting down the field and then gave the fateful corner away when he could have jockeyed his man on the edge of the box. Kouyate tried hard, but when he did get forwards his crosses usually failed to beat the first defender. It would be be much better to see his athleticism and strength in midfield or defence. 

Sam Byram was on the bench and has presumably recovered from a knock sustained against Man City. He did fairly well against Palace and Middlesbrough, and even if he was exposed against Man City he now deserves a run of games. We don't have any other right-backs apart from the ageing Arbeloa, who has returned to training, so we might as well try to give Sam the experience he needs and the chance to cement the position between now and the end of the season. 

The only other alternatives are the unimpressive Havard Nordtveit, who is another midfielder being played out of position,or playing Antonio as a wing-back. Though it's still a mystery why the club didn't sign a right-back in the window, particularly as Carl Jenkinson turned down Palace and would surely have fancied a return loan to West Ham. 


Max Willow said...

The sooner that Bilic gets Kouyate back into a holding midfielder position, the better.
He just doesn't have the turning ability in tight spots to get the ball away effectively. By comparison, he is far more effective when he has more room to move in, and also, is an effective runner with the ball into free open spaces.

Pete May said...

Quite agree Max, we need a specialist full-back. You don't get many players of his size who can play full back, as you say he's much better running into space from midfield.