I suppose we have been spoiled over the years with Mark Noble as our club penalty taker, with an unbelievable 90.5% of pens scored. The only player who beats this, from the top five leagues in Europe, is Robert Lewandowski with 91.1%.
Noble managed to score 40 penalties from 45 attempts and we are clearly missing this skill. It was evident even last season that as Noble was on the bench for most of the year, we needed to decide on a new taker.
Let’s compare these statistics to the starting XI who were on the pitch during our defeat at Nottingham Forest.
Soucek has scored 10, missed four; Rice has scored once and missed twice; Benrahma has scored all seven penalties he’s taken; Fornals has scored four, and missed twice; Cresswell missed the only penalty he took; Antonio has scored one, missed one.
These stats would suggest that Benrahma should be our penalty taker as he has not missed once.
Honestly, seeing the way Declan ran up to take his spot kick, we need to give the job to someone else quickly. I could see exactly where he was going to aim for by his body shape, and if I can tell, an experienced goalkeeper will be able to tell, and he was found out. It was a poor penalty. I know the classic phrase is ‘any penalty not scored is a bad penalty,’ and while this is true, some are certainly worse than others.
I’ve seen some ridiculous saves from the spot; however, this was not one of them. To be a successful penalty kick taker, you need to be able to go cold, make a clean connection with the ball and not give yourself away.
I don’t think Declan can go cold yet and I do not think he has a clean connection with the ball. I love the guy. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen wearing our colours and I believe could get into most teams in the world, however, the guy isn’t a penalty taker.
So, who should get the job? The clear winner is Benrahma. However, I do want to discuss the other players as well.
Even though Cresswell has only taken one penalty kick, and missed, I would have thought he’d be high up on that list of takers. His free kicks are stupendous, and certainly has a great connection with the ball. I guess the drawback of Cresswell is that perhaps he is too hot headed, which we all saw in the matches versus Lyon and Frankfurt.
Fornals is an interesting one because he has scored more than he has missed, however again he doesn’t strike me as a natural penalty taker. He is skilful and determined but not the cleanest striker of the ball. Then there is Soucek, perhaps the most hated player at the club at the moment? His fall from grace has been shocking, from the highs of the first season to poor form continued on from the second to the current season.
However, scoring 10 penalties and only missing three means he certainly must be in the discussion.
It will be interesting to see who steps up when we next get awarded a penalty because clearly Rice has been made the club penalty taker and this probably should not be the case. I believe the club needs to look at Benrahma, Soucek and Cresswell. The first two have good records, which in turn means that their confidence would naturally be higher.
In regard to the latter, I truly believe his qualities would make him a great penalty taker. My reservation is that he is 32 years of age and if he were going to be a natural, this would have already happened.
Penalties are also a great way to kick off a run of form, or to give players confidence. After such a poor start to the season, with zero goals, scoring that penalty would have been vital to get us off the mark.
I think that Declan has a brilliant career ahead of him, with a lot of success and glory. His attitude, attributes and development so far show me that he’s going to be a world beater. Penalties, on the other hand, I would say let’s keep him away from them.
Benrahma deserves that chance and who knows, a string of scoring could really kick start his West Ham United career and that responsibility could ignite something. There’s a real player in there, Moyes and the rest of the coaching staff need to find a way to bring it out, perhaps this is the way?