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West Ham Season Preview #16: Mark Noble - Mr. West Ham

The skipper looks to recapture old form

Manchester City v West Ham United - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Last season

It was not Mark Noble’s best season in a West Ham United shirt last season. Although the same could be said for just about everyone except Michail Antonio, and Manuel Lanzini.

A Hammer through and through Noble’s place in fans hearts is never in question. However, for the first time I can remember there was a large call for the Hammers’ skipper to be dropped from the first team. Pedro Obiang’s emergence helped fuel those calls.

West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

I personally think the move to the new stadium and the he who shall not be named situation, weighed on the skipper more than anyone in the club. Coupled with a hernia a drop in form is almost a guarantee. Mark Noble was not up to his form of seasons past yet he was also not the worst player on the field as some would have you believe.

A look at statistics show Noble is far and away our most offensively efficient player in the defensive midfield.

It’s his defensive work that suffered the biggest drop when compared to his past seasons and to his competition in the midfield.

Again Noble didn’t have a great season but he was far from the worst player in a West Ham shirt last season (cough, Robert Snodgrass, cough).

Current team placement

I think Noble is going to start in the midfield with Obiang when the Hammers take on Manchester United. However, I think it will be Noble and Kouyate in the starting XI when Kouyate gets healthy. I think the captain will be given a chance to prove it’s his spot in the line up. After the first home game I think all bets could be off and it will be a battle for the midfield spots.

Aiding Noble’s claim to being in the starting XI is that he’s simply the heart and soul of the team.

He’s West Ham through and through and it’s his passion and fire that helps carry the team. He’s a reliable presence on the field and rarely has a disaster of a game. However, at 29 Noble is probably on the down slope of his peak production years. That’s not to say he can’t be a starter for the next couple years as defensive midfielders can have a long shelf life, but he’s not getting younger and he has plenty of competition for his spot.

I think fans have given Noble an unfair amount of abuse and disrespect lately and we have to appreciate what we have with Mark. It’s going to be increasingly rare to see a lad go from academy to starting XI and play with one club his whole career. That’s not to say Mark has been perfect, his defensive play needs to improve this season, but he’s a rare breed that should be appreciated while we have him.

Goals for season

Nobes needs to play better defensively this season. He needs to take better angles to make up for his diminishing pace. Having a high work rate doesn’t make up for taking bad angles and being caught out of position.

If he can do that I think he’ll continue to be the first name on the team sheet. He and Obiang are neck and neck for a starting spot, my heart hopes Mark can hold it down for one more year. However, if he starts to slip we’ll have to make the tough choice and sit him.

I think with a full preseason to get healthy, a full year in the new stadium, and no major locker room distractions will only help Mark.