Matt Jarvis is one of those players that in 10 years time, fans will reminisce about and remember the big price tag that led to high expectations and perhaps a less than exciting return. But this season, Jarvis has impressed with his efforts, especially in the few games he has had a chance to play with Andy Carroll.
He came from Wolves just over 18 months ago and broke the club’s transfer fee record. As is the norm with such a signing, half of the fans utter the words “waste of money” and the other half optimistically chirp that this is going to be his big break. Jarvis had already made an appearance for England, albeit brief and in a friendly. In 2011, he failed to make the field in a Euro qualifier against Wales, then made his 20 minute debut against Ghana. Not glittering, but I guess it’s more than some get and probably pushes up his valuation.
In his first season in claret and blue, he helped West Ham to actually get to the top of a table; the best crossers. As a team, we had the most crosses and also the highest percentage of crosses that found a team-mate (up to April).
As an individual, Jarvis had the most Premier League crosses with 171 and the most that were successful with 42. Despite his 32 league appearances last season, he wasn’t really a player that I noticed. He just got on with the job and didn’t stand out to me as one of the personalities of the squad. Perhaps it was his famous magazine front cover that made him more memorable, but this season I feel like he is becoming more a part of the team.
You might have seen the recent stats that show our Matt in a less than flattering light. Sky helpfully titled these stats ‘Top flops’ – though why they didn’t go with ‘Top of the Flops’ I’ll never know. Jarvis has had a pretty poor season in terms of crosses so far, which when you consider that was his selling point, is disappointing.
The facts are that Jarvo has knocked up just three assists so far this season, and only 18 out of 109 crosses has found a claret and blue shirt. Probably the most shocking stat is that he has given the ball to the opposition with almost 40 per cent of his touches. That doesn’t really set him aside from any other player I guess, but this is the kind of thing that needs sharpening up. Is it his fault? Well, ultimately, yes.
We can look to the manager and coaching staff all we like, but he kicks the ball. I’m pretty sure they’re not telling him to give the ball away. But maybe he is getting mixed messages. Should he be running down the line, should he be passing through midfield or should he just stick to his position and simply cross? I’m glad though that I don’t seem to be alone in having noticed Matt’s impressive work rate this season.
Admittedly, I’ve seen less of our football than I would have like this year, but in what I have seen, I’ve picked out Jarvis, Carroll and Nolan as a deadly trio. In one or two games, I’ve noted that Jarvis hasn’t had the credit he’s deserved for his attitude and awareness. He scored one of our nine February goals, his came against Southampton. It was great to see him score at the end of the month after coming into his own in February. With Carroll absent, Jarvis still linked up well with Nolan and you could probably bring Downing into the mix too.
He also performed well against Villa, pinging in a few crosses that were unlucky not to become assists. His pace and ability to visualise play came to light just when the other nine outfield players seemed to be on form, making February unforgettable. So although his statistics don’t offer a glowing report, I think his recent performances show a pick up in form. I hope that for the rest of the season Jarvo will continue to show us what a worker he is, and I hope for his sake as well as the club’s that his stats pick up.