For most of the season, Angelo Ogbonna was arguably the first-name on the West Ham team sheet. Now the Italian faces a tough battle to reclaim his spot in the team once he recovers from his ankle injury.
Ogbonna is set to be out for at least two more weeks and has already missed games against Sheffield United and Tottenham Hotspur. West Ham have won both of those games and put in awe-inspiring defensive performances in both.
Issa Diop has come in as Ogbonna’s replacement and has looked brilliant so far. The Frenchman was signed by Manuel Pellegrini and was largely impressive in his debut season. Jose Mourinho even described him as a ‘monster’ after his performance against Manchester United.
Issa Diop’s recent performances will make it difficult for Angelo Ogbonna to walk back into the West Ham side when he is fit again.
Diop suffered second season syndrome and lost form last season, and fell down the pecking order. This was made worse when he fell down the pecking order after contracting COVID-19 at the start of the season. Craig Dawson and Fabian Balbuena both jumped ahead of him. It was only until Ogbonna’s injury that Diop has been given a chance again.
This chance so far has been seized with both hands by the 24-year-old. Diop has filled Ogbonna’s boots in the last couple of games. Against Sheffield United, Diop showed off his pace as he charged down a bursting Billy Sharpe. The defender also chipped in with a typical headered goal against the Blades.
It may not be bad for David Moyes either. Ogbonna is 32-years-old and won’t be around forever. Diop is significantly younger and has far more longevity. Moyes could decide to stick with the young Frenchman and help him develop into the player fans had hoped to see when he signed.
Ogbonna’s injury came at the worst time for him. At the time, the Italian was in the running for Hammer of the Year, and now he could find himself out of the team due to no fault of his own.