West Ham Capture Lightning in a Bottle With Veteran Defender

Craig Dawson, West Ham United. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Craig Dawson, West Ham United. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images) /

The recent form of West Ham shows no goals conceded over two matches with four points banked, helped along by the most unlikely hero in the Hammers backline.

The most recent result for West Ham, a 1-0 win over Everton away at Goodison Park, snatched three points away from a team lauded for their 2020/21 form, putting the Hammers just three points behind the top-6 hunting Toffees.

This win was the second consecutive match where West Ham kept a clean sheet, having shut out an impressive Southampton side with Danny Ings pocketed along the way. Both Everton and Southampton have been given massive credit this season for their competitive edge in unsettling the top of the table, but West Ham’s defensive form has propelled them to be level or near-level with these two celebrated teams.

David Moyes’ appointment was always going to instigate a more defensive approach to winning games. By limiting chances against and striking on the counterattack, Moyes-led teams have had sustained success and West Ham have done just that this season.

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The incredible form of Angelo Ogbonna, the resurgence of Aaron Cresswell as a centre-back, the instant settling of Vladimir Coufal, and the embracing of a wingback formation have revolutionized this team defence. That being said, even when not in a five-at-the-back system the team has thrived, as apparent against Everton and Southampton, and individual player performances can be attributed to this success.

No individual performance was more shocking than the back-to-back clean sheets contributed to by loan signing Craig Dawson. Many didn’t believe he’d see the pitch in Premier League action this season and were critical of the club and manager for his decision to pursue this player over a younger more exciting option.

Apologies have been pouring in now with Dawson going two-for-two on clean sheets in point producing matches for the Hammers. At his core, Dawson is a no-nonsense defender who prioritizes clearing his lines and staying defensively responsible over playing with the ball at his feet.

After scuffing a clearance and dropping with apparent pain in his knee, Dawson received medical attention and walked off the scary-looking incident to return to action and playout the rest of the 90 minutes.

His assumption to the first team in the place of Fabian Balbuena was thought to be temporary, but with fixture congestion now relieved and his and the team’s form trending upwards, how can Dawson be dropped?

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Once believed to be a no-consequence backup to the backup signing, Craig Dawson has quietly proven that he is still a Premier League quality player and has found a home in West Ham’s first team. Call it striking gold, getting lucky, or capturing lightning in a bottle, West Ham’s low-risk gamble on Craig Dawson has already paid dividends.