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Why Pedro Obiang is West Ham’s unsung hero this season

Why Pedro Obiang is West Ham’s unsung hero this season

West Ham’s recovery and subsequent march back into the top ten of the Premier League may have come unstuck in recent weeks, having not picked up a win since a 3-1 victory at Southampton back in early February, however, there are some positives for Hammers fans to look to.

The late defeat at Bournemouth will have hurt, however, with little left to play for, manager Slaven Bilic – whatever he says – will have been looking carefully at individual performances.

In that sense, there was good news. Michail Antonio, returning from suspension after his dismissal against Watford, looked sharp and played out of his skin for 90 minutes, whilst Sam Byram – who will still be confused as to why (as a recognised right back) he is still on the bench – came on and did well, setting up Andre Ayew, who turned in another good showing, for the equaliser.

One man who has stood out consistently in a more than mixed season for the Hammers is Spanish midfielder, Pedro Obiang.

The 24-year-old, who arrived from Sampdoria in the summer window of 2015, may have only picked up one goal and one assist, both in that win over Southampton, this season, however his overall play has been a revelation.

In terms of statistics, his averages per game for passes completed, forward passes and chances created are all well up on his maiden season in English football.

Furthermore, he is excelling in terms of his own creative play, with take-ons, key passes and shot accuracy all considerably up on last season, on a game-by-game average.

A lot of his improvement can be put down to manager Slaven Bilic showing faith in his industrious midfielder, having already played over 600 more minutes this term than in his first at West Ham, when he made the majority of his appearances from the bench.

The former Spain U21 international is now one of the first names on the sheet in east London and, with a new freedom added to his game, his real talents are only just beginning to show.

At the start of this piece we praised the efforts of Sam Byram in finding Andre Ayew for the Hammers’ equaliser on Saturday. However, the ball to find the substitute right-back, from none other than Obiang, was in a league of it’s own.

Praise, of course still has to go to the former Leeds man for making the run, however, for the Spaniard to spot that movement from a distance and, out of nothing, create the late leveller is sublime vision.

With performances such as those against Southampton and Bournemouth (maybe it’s something in the air down there?), Obiang has only solidified his place in the side further and could well be the standout man over the next season or so.