In the Championship, you can generally afford to miss a chance without it having such disastrous consequences. However, as West Ham found out at the Liberty Stadium last Saturday against Swansea City, in the top flight you miss chances at your peril.
Two individual and uncharacteristic defensive errors accounted for the first two goals for the Welsh side, but the Hammers had more than enough chances to find a way back into the game before the interval. However, their chances went begging, as Marcus Vorm pulled off some top saves, while other opportunities were wasted.
What I want to focus on was the creation of those chances, which coincided with the debut of Matt Jarvis. Jarvis possesses the qualities of an old-fashioned English winger, not afraid to take defenders on, beat them to the by-line before delivering excellent service to awaiting team-mates in the penalty area.
And that is exactly what we saw last weekend in Wales. It wasn’t just in open play that Jarvis excelled either, as the winger also relieved Mark Noble of his corner duties, and the former Wolverhampton Wanderers man’s delivery was top class, resulting in numerous chances for the likes of James Tomkins, James Collins and Carlton Cole.
The former Gillingham man can also play on both wings, as effective on the left as he is on the right, and although the reported fee is £10.75m, the Hammers have only paid Wolves £7.5m up front, and I believe it is money well spent. A quick glance at Jarvis’ statistics from last season, showed he played 31 games in the Premier League for Wolves, creating numerous goals and chances. The England international also managed to score eight league goals too, which is not a bad return for a midfielder playing in a team fighting relegation.
Whenever Jarvis got the ball on his debut, he was looking to make something happen and was a constant threat to the Swansea defence. The former Millwall trainee also provided an outlet for the Hammers midfield, staying tight to the touchline. If we cast our minds back to last season, how many times did we see the likes of Noble and Kevin Nolan look to play the ball out wide, only to find no-one there?
This was down to a lack of personnel in the wide positions – Sam Allardyce was forced to play the likes of Gary O’Neil and Jack Collison out wide. Don’t get me wrong, they are both good central midfielders, but they lack the discipline and to some extent the skill to really hurt teams when they are played out wide. I believe that Jarvis changes that, and he is a player that excites me in the same way that Matty Etherington did when he donned the colours of claret and blue several seasons ago.
If and when Jarvis and Ricardo Vaz Te are teamed together, West Ham will have dangermen on either flank, a key component to the Hammers’ game and strategy, and Allardyce was clearly delighted to have signed the 26-year-old from Wolves.
“From my point of view it is a big piece of business for a terrific young man who will add a lot of quality to our team. From an attacking sense he is on of the best final third crossers in the Premier League and his stats were very good at Wolves. He delivers at the business end of the fi eld and creates a lot of chances. He is a player who can give opposition defences an awful lot of trouble and we are hoping he will produce that for us.”
It was Cole who last season responded to criticisms of the team not taking chances by questioning the quality of the opportunities being produced, saying if the service was not there, the blame could not be laid at the forwards’ door. The striker believed it was down to his team-mates creating the chances for him to take, hinting that he was having to do it all on is own, and anything being provided for him was not good enough.
With Jarvis, that simply won’t be the case, and I am certain the winger will bring an exciting cutting edge to the Hammers’ attack. Only time will tell, but if West Ham avoid the dreaded drop come May, it will have been a club-record signing worth every single penny.