By Dan Carter

11th Sep, 2023 | 6:10pm

Alphonse Areola weakness found as West Ham keeper sits bottom of passing charts

Alphonse Areola has been in superb form for West Ham United this season but has struggled to be consistently effective with the ball at his feet.

The Hammers stopper has the worst pass success rate of any goalkeeper in the Premier League so far this season, only finding an Irons teammate with 42.2 per cent of the passes he has attempted in the opening four matches [Whoscored].

Brighton goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen tops the charts in England’s top-flight completing 91.5 per cent of his attempted passes this season and while it seemingly shows a flaw in the West Ham keeper’s game, it may not be that simple.

Areola more often than not will play long passes, rather than opting to play out from the back. So far this season he has attempted 74 long passes compared to only 16 short passes suggesting he is typically told to aim to advance the Hammers up the field.

Of his 16 short passes, the Frenchman has only been inaccurate with one of them, showing that when he is required to play out from the back he is more than capable of it, whereas when aiming for long passes he has missed his target on 51 occasions [Whoscored].

The nature of attempting to hit a 30-yard and upwards pass is that it is much harder to connect with your desired target than it is to roll your studs over a ball to nudge it to a centre-back only five yards away from your penalty area.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

When looking at Verbruggen’s statistics so far this season there is a clear difference in style of play, he has only attempted 18 long passes in his two appearances for the Seagulls but has remained accurate completing 16 of them [Whoscored].

But the bulk of his completed passes have been short balls, already finding teammates with 63 shorter passes this season and like Areola, he has only misplaced his effort on one occasion at close range.

While on the face of it, it may appear as though Areola’s poor passing record is a stick to beat the 30-year-old keeper with, it is entirely indicative of how David Moyes wants his keeper to play to benefit his side.

Unlike Robert De Zerbi’s Brighton, the Irons don’t always tend to build from the back and utilise their goalkeeper almost as an extra outfield player when in possession, instead he’s there as a more old-fashioned stopper focused on keeping the ball out of the net.

So far this season, Areola has done that excellently as well, being one of the best performers in a reasonably complete West Ham side. If Moyes did suddenly decide to change his tactics and become a possession-focused, building from the back team, the Frenchman may struggle, but there’s no sign of that happening any time soon.

Until then, you’d have to imagine Moyes and the Hammers fans won’t mind him misplacing the odd pass while they sit within the Champions League places.

In other West Ham news, Declan Rice has revealed the contents of a three-word message he sent to David Moyes