This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Outside of east London Mark Noble is often a much-overlooked figure, but his presence on the pitch has undoubted importance for West Ham, and not just because of his leadership qualities.
He has been a central figure to the Hammers since breaking into the first team and despite the comings and goings of various players and managers, he is always a key cog in the team.
For onlookers, they may judge him by his low return of goals and assists, but he doesn’t base his game on that, and instead acts as a valuable asset to Pellegrini in another capacity.
In his two seasons under the Chilean he has achieved a pass accuracy of 85% in 2018/19 and 86% this term, and that makes him a dependable figure to his manager and the passing philosophy he has implemented – evidenced by their average of 8.6 key passes per game in their last three league matches against Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Manchester United.
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Central to creating chances in the final third is the role Noble fulfils, as without him many of West Ham’s attacks wouldn’t get going.
He is the lynchpin and though at times he seems to just be keeping things ticking over, he often provides a decisive pass to set the attack on its way, launching the more creative players upfield to work their magic.
In fact, such is his effectiveness, he ranks fifth in a list of Premier League players’ build-up contributions.
Build-up contributions are an ideal scope at looking at the players who start moves from deep, and highlights how efficient the 32-year-old is in picking the ball up from his defenders and finding a teammate further forward.
The 24 he has made this term places him ahead of several top-six players, many of whom often receive plaudits such as Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum, whilst Winks is seen as a very effective midfielder but has made only one more contribution than the Irons man.
Also important to note is that no other West Ham player comes near to him, and it is likely that his absence could lead to a downturn in results, or at least the number of chances they produce.
As a result, Noble is a significant contributor to the team and one of the first names on the teamsheet not just because of his leadership attributes, and without him the team would be considerably worse off.