West Ham secure their first away league win of the season with a hard fought 2-1 victory over QPR at Loftus Road . The defeat sees QPR remain bottom on the division on goal difference with just 2 points from 6 games thus far.
The result was earned by through a combination of West Ham’s hard work and domination of the first half aided by Mark Hughes somewhat surprising starting line up which never quite worked.
Mark Hughes made two changes following the away defeat to Spurs. Clint Hill moved back out to left in place of the absent Bosingwa with Stephane Mbia making his Premier League debut in central defence. Further forward, Holiett made way for Cisse.
QPR lined up in a 4-4-2 formation.
The Hammers started in a 4-5-1 formation with an onus on Vaz Te and Jarvis to push forward and support the lone striker of Carlton Cole. Jarvis started in place of Taylor otherwise the team was the same as that which had drawn their last league game at home to Sunderland.
When the line ups were confirmed, it was clear that the key battle would be fought in the midfield area where West Ham had numerical superiority over their hosts. The challenge for the QPR duo of Faurlin and Granero would be to successfully compete against the Hammers trio of Noble, Diame and Nolan.
The Traditional 4-4-2
It shows how far the Premiership has moved on since it’s inception that it is quite unusual to see a team line up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation yet in the first half that is precisely what QPR did. The formation still has a position in the modern game but it’s faults in an attacking sense were clear to see during this game. QPR were far too linear and were easily outmaneuvered in the central midfield area. If the desire to play both Zamora and Cisse was particularly strong, Hughes should have abandoned the flat midfield four and went with a trio, one of who could drop much deeper to reduce the space which Nolan had to operate in. The 4th midfield player could have been Wright-Phillips with Cisse handed the task of playing inward from a leftish starting position to provide balance.
Instead, the midfield struggled to build and Cisse and Zamora were disconnected as a result.
West Ham started at a high tempo, pressing their opponents and seeking to push the ball forward quickly. QPR by contract were more patient, looking to pass their way forward from defence. Faurlin was the deepest of the midfield pairing with Granero in a marginally more advanced position.
To help compensate for the numerical disadvantage and to prevent the side being overrun in midfield, Park tucked in on the left hand-side but he was largely ineffectual neither contributing to defensive or attacking phases. Wright-Phillips remained wide on the right but he was often detached from the remainder of the team.
West Ham’s pro-active start was rewarded with the opening goal after just 2 minutes. Vaz Te was wide on the right and played a one-two with the oncoming Nolan. Clint Hill moved towards the ball and failed to follow the run of Vaz Te who collcted the pass and subsequently cut the ball back for Nolan. Again, no QPR player had responded to the quick movement of Nolan and his badly mishit shot was headed in at the far post by Jarvis.
The second goal was scored by Vaz Te and whilst discussion could focus upon Julio Cesar’s poor goalkeeping given the finish from such an acute angle, questions should also be focused on QPR’s inability to defend a set piece or clear their lines effectively. Following a scramble in the 6 yard box, the ball was poorly cleared along the goal lines and Tomkins quickly returned the ball to the back post where Vaz Te was positioned to score.
It’s worth noting that both Jarvis and Vaz Te cut in and provide an option at the back post. It would be easy for either to remain on the wing when plays develops on the opposite side of the pitch but both moved inward last night, providing the option at the back posts.
Throughout the first half, Nolan repeatedly shuttled between midfield and attack causing QPR problems. Given their surprisingly flat approach, Nolan was often found between the defensive and midfield line of QPR in space.
West Ham remained the dominant force for the remainder of the first half. The problem area was midfield which QPR were unable to take control over. For the opening goal, three QPR players had been beaten by the sharp passing of two West Ham players. This was what QPR were hoping they would do to the West Ham midfield yet failed.
Next Page: Second Half analysis and Midfield Battle Opta Stats!