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Irish Hammer 3:03 Thu Oct 7
Article on Areolas distribution vs Fabinski.
This article has a lot of pictures in it but I can’t post them obviously.

It’s a bit of a read but passes the time anyway.

Areola clever distribution puts pressure on Fabianski in fight for No 1 spot

It’s an ongoing debate among West Ham fans at present.

Who should be the club’s No 1 goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski or Alphonse Areola?

At present, Fabianski is the preferred choice but many believe the 36-year-old was at fault for Yoane Wissa’s late winner for Brentford in their 2-1 victory at the London Stadium on Sunday.

Barring the odd injury, former Poland international Fabianski has been dependable since joining from Swansea City following their relegation to the Championship in the summer of 2018. This is the first time in his three-plus years at West Ham where he has faced this level of competition for that starting berth.

Following Areola’s move from Paris-Saint Germain on a season-long loan, the Frenchman has impressed in victories over Manchester United and Rapid Vienna in the Carabao Cup and Europa League respectively. Many are now clamouring for the 28-year-old to start West Ham’s next league game at Everton a week on Sunday.

Two clean sheets in his two appearances have helped Areola’s case, yet it is his ball distribution that could see him take over as first choice.

When it comes to their style of passing, Fabianski would often try to pass the ball long, with 60.9 per cent of his 731 passes (excluding goal kicks) going more than 40 yards and 80.1 per cent of his 271 goal kicks going long.

Areola, who spent last season in the Premier League on loan from PSG to relegation-bound Fulham, hit only 38.2 per cent of his 752 passes long and just 57.8 per cent of his 249 goal kicks went a notable distance, showing he tended to play it shorter than Fabianski.

Competition between the two is what manager David Moyes wants, but who plays is a call he can’t afford to get wrong.

The Athletic has looked at how the two keepers differ when it comes to their distribution, reflexes and work at set pieces.


West Ham United 1-2 Brentford, October 3

A common frustration with Fabianski is he will often hesitate over making the quick pass when his team have an opportunity to break. In that defeat against Brentford last weekend, there were countless times, especially in the second half, when Said Benrahma would sprint forward and signal to Fabianski to hit the pass.

In the above graphic, Pablo Fornals and Benrahma make advancing runs when the goalkeeper catches a Brentford corner. But instead of passing to either of his team-mates, he holds onto the ball, spurning a great opportunity for the home side to press forward.

As highlighted in the grab above, from earlier in the same game, Fabianski has a tendency to play a long pass towards striker Michail Antonio.

Aaron Cresswell is unmarked out on the left and signals to his goalkeeper that he wants the ball. But instead of playing that shorter, easier pass, Fabianski punts one up to Antonio which ends up going out for a throw-in.

Leeds United 1-2 West Ham United, September 25

Fabianski signed a one-year contract extension in March under the impression he will still feature heavily in Moyes’ plans. Yet it is moments like this one at Elland Road last month that could see the manager turn to Areola.

Central defenders Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna come short in the hope Fabianski will pass to either of them so they can launch their attack from the back. But although he is capable of it, playing from the back isn’t Fabianski’s strength. So instead of passing to either Zouma or Ogbonna, the goalkeeper goes long again towards Antonio.

West Ham United 1-2 Manchester United, September 19

Similar to the example above of Benrahma and Fornals breaking away, Cresswell and Declan Rice are in acres of space here when Fabianski catches a Jesse Lingard cross. It is the 85th minute and West Ham still have time to score a winner. But, much to the frustration of the home crowd, Fabianski delays making the pass out to Cresswell.

West Ham United 2-0 Rapid Vienna, September 30

Before Areola’s arrival, Fabianski had faced competition for the starting role at West Ham from Adrian, Roberto, David Martin and Darren Randolph. The three-cap France international, who was in the squad that won the last World Cup three years ago although he never got a game, is his stiffest competition yet.

The grab above is an example of how Areola slightly differs from Fabianski as a footballer.

Diop signals to him to thread a pass, which the keeper duly does.

It’s moments like this that suggest Areola could help West Ham to play patient possession football this season, as opposed to a long hopeful ball in the direction of their main front man.

Southampton 0-0 West Ham United, September 11

In the late stages of the goalless draw at Southampton, there was more urgency from Fabianski to get the ball forward. But, again, the long balls weren’t having the desired effect.

Fabianski has the intention of finding Fornals here but Tino Livramento intercepts the pass, giving Southampton a great chance to launch a potential match-winning attack of their own.


West Ham United 1-2 Brentford, October 3

In fairness to Fabianski, he has made some brilliant saves already this season. Last term he made 103 of them in 35 league appearances as West Ham finished sixth to qualify for the Europa League, while Areola made 116 for doomed Fulham while playing one match more than the Pole.

These grabs from Sunday’s defeat show Fabianski pushing away Sergi Canos’s close-range shot…

…initially, he appears to make a brilliant double save to also deny Bryan Mbeumo, but goalline technology showed the latter’s strike had crossed the whitewash before he could stop it.

It is easy to blame Fabianski here but Ogbonna momentarily switches off and fails to track Mbeumo’s run.

Manchester United 0-1 West Ham United, September 22

Areola kept nine Premier League clean sheets for struggling Fulham last season — one fewer than Fabianski, who played one less game for Europe-chasing West Ham.

At Old Trafford, in last month’s Carabao Cup win, the loanee was keen to impress on his debut and it was his composure in one-on-one situations which caught the eye. When Mason Greenwood was through on goal here, Areola raced off his line to block the shot with his right foot and preserve West Ham’s lead.

West Ham United 1-2 Manchester United, September 19

The goal Cristiano Ronaldo scored past Fabianski against West Ham in the league meeting three days before the Carabao Cup tie is similar to the opener the same player would concede to Brentford two weeks later.

Ronaldo gets on the end of a Bruno Fernandes cross, which Fabianski does well to keep out first time. But after his save the loose ball falls nicely for the Manchester United forward, who taps home from six yards.


Manchester United 0-1 West Ham United, September 22

Although many believe Areola should replace Fabianski, it appears he has a penchant for punching the ball. Areola made 26 punches in the Premier League last season, the most by any goalkeeper. Fabianski, meanwhile, only punched nine times.

In the above graphic, from the Carabao Cup game, Juan Mata whips in a corner and the Frenchman loses the aerial battle with United centre-back Eric Bailly.

In the grab above from later in that match, instead of making a routine catch when a cross comes into the box, Areola opts to punch despite not being under pressure.

Fulham 1-2 Leeds United, March 19

Areola’s loan spell at Fulham saw him voted the club’s player of the season by their supporters.

But an obvious weakness seems to be his lack of confidence at catching the ball from set-pieces and crosses, as seen above during a home loss to Leeds.

Liverpool 0-1 Fulham, March 7

There are plenty of examples of Areola unnecessarily punching the ball when he isn’t under pressure.

Here, when Andrew Robertson floats in a cross, Areola is more than capable of catching it. Instead, he flaps at it and the ball goes out for a Liverpool corner.

Brighton & Hove Albion 0-0 Fulham, January 27

Once more, this time away to Brighton, Areola has time to catch the set piece but opts to punch it.

It is clear the loanee’s distribution is better than Fabianski’s but those issues at set pieces could see the latter retain his place in the team for the time being.

Yet there is no doubt Fabianski will need to be at the top of his game to see off the threat from his latest, toughest challenger.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Mex Martillo 9:48 Sat Oct 9
Re: Article on Areolas distribution vs Fabinski.
Tricky one isn’t it.
I prefer shorter distribution, but that punching / parrying was a worry against ManU in the cup. I have the feeling Areola would have saved the first against Brentford though.
I guess Moyesey will get it right.
Thanks Irish

Alfs 12:51 Sat Oct 9
Re: Article on Areolas distribution vs Fabinski.
Fabs kicking it long is muscle memory from the Allardyce days.

terry-h 4:02 Fri Oct 8
Re: Article on Areolas distribution vs Fabinski.
Until Areola gets a regular chance in the PL ,we won't know for sure that he is the better keeper under intense pressure especially in away games. I think he is better than Fabianski and hope Moyes agrees with me.

Vexed 3:09 Fri Oct 8
Re: Article on Areolas distribution vs Fabinski.
JayeMPee 1:59 Fri Oct 8

A fine example of abject stupidity that. Well done that cunt.

Ron Eff 2:14 Fri Oct 8
Re: Article on Areolas distribution vs Fabinski.
The unfortunate inevitability with good ‘keepers is they are more often than not kept in for just a touch longer than they should be, such is the longevity prospects of the position, and fans end up frustrated at the natural decline, leading to some forgetting previous seasons.

Fabianski has been superb for us, and is still more than capable, but he should now probably be an exceptional back up, and bit part cup player.

Still, what a position to be in given we previously had an Adrian/Randolph combo, and a Roberto back up to anyone situation.

JayeMPee 1:59 Fri Oct 8
Re: Article on Areolas distribution vs Fabinski.
Sorry Chigwell but Fabianski does give goals away thats the whole point. He flaps at the ball rather than catching it, the Brentford winner showed that whilst a pretty poor effort against manu led to Ronaldo tap in. He has been great, and a favourite, but time for a change as far as I am concerned.

Chigwell 7:09 Fri Oct 8
Re: Article on Areolas distribution vs Fabinski.
The fashion for playing the ball short often puts teams under pressure in their own half. It means that defenders need skills that are not always present, and it can slow a game down. Balance is what is needed: if a keeper sees that a forward has space there is nothing wrong with launching the ball to create a 50/50 just outside the opposition penalty area. Fabianski is still our first choice as he doesn't give goals away and his defenders have confidence in him.

Texas Iron 4:53 Thu Oct 7
Re: Article on Areolas distribution vs Fabinski.
Thanks Irish…

Please ost the source of all your articles…


Vexed 4:48 Thu Oct 7
Re: Article on Areolas distribution vs Fabinski.
Two good goalkeepers, nightmare innit? GSB OUT.

One likes to launch it, the other likes a quick pass out to the CB for them to....launch it.

Don't make much difference really.

Fabianski IN

Sniper 4:10 Thu Oct 7
Re: Article on Areolas distribution vs Fabinski.
Really interesting, thanks Irish

Areola certainly seems to want to get a hand on everything in the area, which will mean coming unstuck at some point. But the distribution thing is very interesting - I often wonder how much is down to goalkeeper choice and how much is instruction - for example, areola didn’t have Antonio to hit long to in the league cup game (there wasn’t any sort of target man) so perhaps he was instructed to play differently.

It’s also hard to use stats comparing two appearances with 8. But the gist of it all does seem pretty accurate

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