A few weeks ago, when I was discussing the players to watch for West Ham this season, I highlighted Mohamed Diame as a “steal”. So how has he performed this season so far?
Well, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that his style is “combative” and to use that horrible football cliché, “he’s got a great engine”. Of course, this style of play can lead to problems: after the match against Arsenal, his goal and subsequent yellow card caused him to be more cautious, affecting his play and effectively making his game redundant. It was also his loss of possession that created two of the three Arsenal goals, but one rash tackle and he would have been sent off.
However, overall, he’s adding a touch of much-needed steel to the side and it was great to see him score his first goal against Arsenal. It was a shame that the team succumbed to the 3-1 defeat, but over the course Mo Diame – his season so far Words: Geoff Hillyer of the last few matches, he’s already established himself as one of the key components in the West Ham midfield, adding some protection to the likes of Mark Noble.
What helps him is that he seems to “slot in” to the midfield very easily. A look at the stats from the recent win at QPR suggests that whilst Kevin Nolan likes to break forward and support whoever is up front, and Noble tends to flit between attack and defence, Diame is very defensive minded – he won more tackles than anyone else in that particular match, and kept his passing simple and accurate, a feature of his play over recent games. So, what about Diame’s impact, versus our other new signings?
Well, clearly Andy Carroll will play a key part this season – his influence at both ends of the pitch against Arsenal was absolutely massive, even if he ended up on the losing side. Matt Jarvis also seems to be growing into this West Ham team and will have a hugely important role to play. But James Collins has a point to prove; we’ve seen very little of Modibo Maiga so far – with the exception of a couple of League Cup goals; the jury is still out on Jussi Jaaskelainen; and we haven’t seen much of Alou Diarra, who’s only made fleeting appearances.
I think Mo Diame will become an increasingly important part of the jigsaw as the season progresses. His steel will be needed, particularly if we hit a dodgy patch of results, as he has the capability to dominate the defensive side of midfield, and if we don’t concede, we don’t lose. The key will be for him not to get banned through yellow cards (or worse!) because of his physical style of play, but if he can stay on the pitch, he’ll help the team win important points and will be a key signing for Sam Allardyce this term.