The London Stadium is beginning to turn into a fortress after West Ham took points off another of the Premier League’s top sides in a 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Monday evening.
Manuel Pellegrini’s defensive unit were always going to need to demonstrate a marked improvement from their sloppy, meek and borderline embarrassing performance against Wolves which preceded their Monday night clash – and that’s exactly what they did.
The central defensive partnership of Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna consistently anticipated danger and neutralised a Liverpool threat which has been relentlessly potent for the majority of the season so far.
Diop, in particular, was magnificent. His only mistake of the game arrived when he over-committed at the near post as an offside James Milner delivered the ball into Sadio Mane, but he can be forgiven for his slight misjudgement due to the circumstances of the situation.
The 22-year-old defensive colossus has been a revelation since he arrived from Toulouse in the summer, and his latest outing suggests a massive future at both club and international level is on the cards.
Didier Deschamps should be watching Diop with eagle-eyed intrigue after his compelling opening to life in English football.
The World Cup winning manager is, historically speaking, a tricky man to please. Aymeric Laporte has established himself as a mainstay at the heart of Manchester City’s defence since he signed for the club in January 2018, but an international call-cup continues to elude him.
Laporte will be scratching his head wondering what else he needs to do to get into Deschamps’ squad; if being arguably the first-choice centre-back for the Premier League champions is not enough to get the call, then what is?
One must assume that, for reasons which remain unclear in the public eye, the 50-year-old has taken issue with Laporte, and Diop’s form under Manuel Pellegrini could further cement his status as an outcast of the French national team.
The strength of Deschamps’ options in central defence suggest that Diop will need to be patient in his endeavour to work his way into the national side, but there’s no doubt he should be in the manager’s thinking after another sparkling display against Liverpool.