James Collins & Winston Reid
The returning ‘Ginger Pele’ and the Kiwi Reid have been Allardyce’s favoured pairing throughout most of the season, with Tomkins coming in for injuries and being places at right-back a lot. But both Collins and Reid are fairly similar players, good headers of the ball and strong in a tackle, but in those two there is a lack of pace in this choice. It works well against the Stoke City’s and Newcastle’s who utilise the long ball option, but it has been caught out by the fleet footed sides of Swansea and Tottenham.
Winston Reid & James Tomkins
Due to James Collins recent injury, the young pairing of Reid and Tomkins, who fared very well in the Championship last year, have been sprung together. Against QPR the pair looked solid bar the bizarre choice to play the offside trap against Remy, though against Sunderland and Arsenal the two have looked suspect, shipping five goals away to Arsenal and three against Sunderland. Tomkins has time to improve and Reid has been a standout performer in claret and blue the season, so much so he’s first name on Sam’s team sheet.
James Collins & James Tomkins
A pairing we have not seen in the Premier League, mainly because of the form of Winston Reid who has cemented his place in the side. It is really a question of who will partner Reid. If the Kiwi international was to get injured we would see this pairing, and it may be a very good working one. Collins and Tomkins are very different defenders, with the former having a more aggressive style and the latter preferring to nick the ball and play it out from the back.
The best centre-back pairing depends on the opposition, though they say never mess with your back four, against quick and pacey sides we may need Tomkins in the team, and for the strong sides it is best for Collins to come in. One defender I can’t see being replaced is Winston Reid, he has made that position his, after a first season that disappointed all the Kiwi came back and a season in the Championship proved so beneficial and he now looking like a top flight player, who still has many more years to come in the claret and blue of West Ham.